Saturday, August 27, 2011

Herb Greens & Kabocha Summer Salad

Haven't heard of kabocha squash? Neither had I, until about a month ago. I found out about it through a site called Kabocha Fashion - which may not sound like a recipe or food site, but it does in fact have some good vegan recipes!

There are apparently many ways to cook kabocha squash, including cutting it up and baking or roasting it, steaming it, or braising it, or even just shoving it whole into the oven- you can actually eat the outside skin (it's actually very good for you)! This page has some useful information about kabochas.

For the above salad, you can see I actually did leave the skin on- I was pretty enticed by the nutritional value and just the oddity of essentially eating a pumpkin peel (kabocha, in fact, is often described as a mix between a pumpkin and a squash, or a Japanese pumpkin). I'm a little embarrassed to admit I picked the easiest possible way to cook the squash, and, yes, just put the darn thing whole in the oven, at 400 degrees F. (I washed the skin first and rubbed it with a little olive oil). Cutting through the whole raw squash is no joke; I figured I'd let it soften a bit before I used my muscles on it ;-)

It took a loooong time to cook- after about 40 minutes I took it out, quartered it and scooped out the seeds, covered it with tin foil (shiny side inside), and brushed the skin with more olive oil. I cooked it for another 40-45 minutes. It may have still been a little fleshy and the skin slightly too hard, so next time I may try another cooking method, such as this (as recommended by Nicky):

Peel the skin, cut into inch-sized pieces, spread on a cooking sheet, spray with cooking oil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

OR, I may have another go at leaving the skin on, since it's so good for you, and just cover it more fully throughout cooking and be prepared for a long bake ;-)

Ingredients in the pictured salad include:
  • Organic herb salad mix (A new find at the store! Contains raddicio, red & green romaine, red leaf, chard, frisee, baby arugula, dill, parsley, and cilantro)
  • Steamed asparagus, chopped
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Kabocha
  • Chopped dates
  • Chopped figs
  • Tomatoes

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sweet & Tangy Brussels Sprouts & Tempeh

Not too long ago I discovered the secret to yummy Brussels sprouts made at home - roasting 'em. So when I saw this recipe from Lux Hippie, called "Bitchin' Brussels Sprouts," I knew I had to try it out. She had me at bitchin ;-)

Recipe adapted from Lux Hippie's Bitchin Brussels Sprouts
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 4 oz tempeh cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/3-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Sea salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, brown sugar, red pepper, and salt, and mix well.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss until well coated.
  4. Spread on large baking pan and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Roasting always gives veggies a wonderful flavor, but the sauce in this recipe adds so much to it - slightly sweet, slightly tangy, with a tiny kick from those red pepper flakes. It all blends so well. A new, easy dinner fave!

Thanks to Mandi from Lux Hippie for this kick-ass recipe!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Vegan Ginger Muffins

Vegan Muffins Rock!

I found a great recipe for Gingerbread muffins from kabochafashion. As usual, I edited some things just a bit- I split the mix in two and added the nuts to half, and MORE dried fruit to the other half- including chopped dates, figs, and dried cranberries (totaling maybe an extra 1/4 cup dried fruit for half the recipe). I really recommend the mixed fruit version for a power-packed little muffin! I also made these as mini muffins, since I love having little bite-sized snacks.

Recipe adapted from the adorable Nicky from The Kabocha Fashionista

Makes ~24 mini muffins, or about 12 regular-sized muffins
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 medium to large ripe banana
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp almond milk (I use Trader Joe's unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk- it's awesome, and only has 40 calories per cup!)
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped-AND/OR 1/4 cup chopped fresh dates, figs, and/or cranberries. (Figs go especially well in these.)
  • 1/4 cup crystalized ginger, chopped in small bits
  1. Mix together dry ingredients in large bowl: flour, bran, salt, cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Mash the banana in a small bowl. Add in the almond milk and molasses and mix. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix.
  3. Fold in chopped ginger, nuts, and raisins (and additional dried fruit if using).
  4. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a muffin pan or use liners, and add a spoonful of the batter into each, filling about 3/4 of each muffin well.
  5. For mini muffins, bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. For regular-sized muffins, bake for 20-30 minutes.
These may not be the prettiest muffins I've ever made...that blackstrap molasses is soooo dark! I won't say what the little brown heaps of muffins look like uncooked... ;-) BUT they are tasty! The ginger and dried fruit make such a nice combination- that little kick of spice makes for such a great flavor. I froze about half of the batch to save for later!

PS- Ginger is supposed to be good for soothing the stomach, and these muffins are packed not only with the ground and crystalized ginger, but also use only whole wheat flour, and bran (yay fiber!- plus more fiber if you add in dates & figs, which taste so good in these), as well as NO dairy products. Well hello there, healthy little muffin. I think I will eat you!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Polenta Stacks with Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Greens

Even though my experimental "vegan month" is over, I'm still testing out great new vegan recipes. This one is a KEEPER for many reasons - It's pretty easy to make, not that time consuming, doesn't require a ton of ingredients I don't have, and it's delicious! I FINALLY found something wonderful to do with polenta. Usually when my husband or I have made it in the past, we pan cook it with olive oil, and it always comes out too oily. We never really had great ideas to serve it with, and end up just slapping pasta sauce on it. Boring polenta no more! Enter Gina from Choosing Raw's EXCELLENT POLENTA STACKS!

(Original recipe here)
  • 1 tube organic, prepared polenta
  • 2 large yams or sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 Tbsp mellow white miso (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Earth Balance
  • ~2 Tbsp almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp agave
  • 1 head of kale or Swiss chard (or a mix of the two), washed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Peel and quarter the yams. Heat a large pot of water to a boil, and boil the yams until they’re fork tender.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. While the yams cook, spray a pan or cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut the polenta into 1/2 inch rounds, and line them evenly on the tray and place in oven. Cook for ~10-15 minutes on each side, or until polenta is golden brown.
  3. Remove yams from water, and drain. Using a potato masher or ricer, mash them with the miso (if you have some & want to add it!), cinnamon, Earth Balance, and almond milk. Use only enough milk to achieve a thick consistency (you can actually omit the milk altogether, as I did, and it comes out just fine! I did add just a tiny bit of agave though). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  4. Place drained beans, 1 minced clove of garlic, cumin, coriander, agave, and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor, and process roughly, so that the beans look a bit like refried beans.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet and add the other small clove of minced garlic. Stir garlic for about 1 minute, then add chopped greens. Cover for two minutes and then sautee until just wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Assemble the stacks: I placed a bed of the greens on the bottom, then the polenta cake, followed by the beans, and finally the yams on top. (Gena's version has the greens in the middle). However you stack them, you just want to eat all the components together- everything pairs so amazingly!
Some notes:
-The original recipe calls for double the yams and beans and ingredients to go in them; since I was making dinner for two, I knew that would be way too much. We had plenty for plentiful stacks, plus extra for leftovers. (Side note: I tend to slip and use 'yams' and 'sweet potatoes' interchangeably- I pretty much always mean the darker more orange version!)
-I DID NOT add the following ingredients: milk (whoops! all out of my non-diary milk!), coriander (haven't ever used it!), and the miso (darn! I actually had this one in my fridge and was planning on making use of it, but then forgot). Despite forgetting a few things, the dish tasted amazing and flavorful- sweet from the yams with cinnamon, savory from the polenta (which was cooked perfectly and not at all oily), spices (and protein!) from the bean spread, and even more flavor from the greens. Speaking of which, I used a combo of red Swiss chard (YUM!) and mixed kales (I LOVE you Berkeley Bowl for having such an array of kales- not to mention other veg). I had to remind myself to take it easy on the kale (flashbacks to eating too much raw kale during my coo-coo for kale episode). I am proud to say I did not have an entire head of kale while making this dish ;-) But seriously, chard and kale really complement the other ingredients here.

This dish feels homey and warm but exciting all at the same time. Make it. Eat it. Love it.

What a yum dinner!

And leftovers like this are the cherry on top ;-)

This WILL be a vegan recipe I show off at a dinner party! Thanks to Gena!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

White bean burger with sweet potato fries

vegan white bean burgerAnother great recipe identified through Finding Vegan's amazing photos. This one came from the blog, "What the hell does a vegan eat anyway?" which I think is a great name! Click for the original post.

  • 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. rosemary, minced
  • salt & pepper to taste
  1. Drain the can of beans and transfer to a bowl. Mash the beans (using a potato masher works well)
  2. Add the flour & yeast and mix well.
  3. Chop the onion, garlic, and rosemary, and add to the mix.
  4. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Form into burger patties (mix will make about 6-8)
  6. Heat 1-2 Tbsp olive oil in pan and cook the patties about 5-6 min each side, until browned.
The rosemary adds such a nice flavor! And I love cannellini beans. But when I made these I couldn't find nutritional yeast, so I just used regular yeast. Because I wasn't sure that was right, I added less of it. Neither of those mistakes helped- the burgers still tasted pretty good flavor-wise, but were a little too mushy in the middle. I think making the patties fairly thin will help with that, and, of course, sticking to the recipe ;-)

For the sweet potato fries, I used my spiralizer to create the slightly thicker than shoestring curls of sweet potatoes, tossed them in some olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and put them in a 400 degree oven for maybe 20-30 minutes. If anyone has suggestions on how to make the perfect baked fries (that come out crispy and not burned), I'm all ears- mine could be a little crisper.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vegan post-run brunch: tofu scramble breakfast burrito

vegan breakfast burrito
Along with my husband and a few friends, I ran the San Francisco half marathon this Sunday (the first half, which goes across the Golden Gate bridge). Aside from waking up at 4:30 AM, it was great! Very hilly, though. After 13.1 miles of running up and down and all around San Francisco, I was craving a nice big breakfast! I have to admit, I was reaaaaaaaally jealous watching my husband eat his egg & cheese bagel, but I'd made a commitment to go vegan for the month of July, and it was July 31! I couldn't give up on the last day!

So instead, I waited until we got home and whipped up this vegan tofu scramble. It's sooooo easy to make, and, I was pleasantly surprised, made me just as happy as an egg & cheese bagel would have.

Vegan tofu scramble (my take):
Ingredients (for 1 burrito):
  • 1 serving firm tofu, drained and cut into pieces
  • 1-2 Tbsp sun dried tomatoes in oil & herbs, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 small avocado
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • olive oil
  • 1 flour or wheat tortilla, burrito sized
  1. In a small pan, saute the shiitake mushrooms in some olive oil, and then set them aside.
  2. Heat about 1 Tbsp olive oil and add tofu.
  3. Once the tofu is beginning to brown, add the sundried tomatoes and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted. Add the rosemary and mix.
  4. Heat the tortilla for about 10-15 seconds, and add the scramble, mushrooms, and sliced avocado. Enjoy!
(I just might have added ketchup to this too!)

I also enjoyed a vegan mini muffin with my post-race brunch!