Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Everything Granola

I went a little crazy with this last batch of granola.

I had the INTENTION to make a batch of apple-cinnamon granola, but stuff just kept getting tossed into my bowl. 

My overall plan was to chock this batch full of nutrition and I think I did just that. This granola is full of nuts, seeds, fruit, and flavor with just a hint of sweetness. Though it does contain both dried apples and cinnamon (in the pumpkin pie spice) it's entirely different from what I said I would make. Oops. All well. There's always next time! This method of making granola is the way I usually see it, only they bake it in a slow oven. I'm not that patient so I crank it up and toast it until it's golden. Be careful though, baked granola browns pretty fast.

For this bunch I also mixed in a few cups of whole-grain puffed brown rice to bulk it up a bit without adding a lot of calories or fat (plus, it's a whole grain and it's good for you). However, I would recommend using a different cereal, such as Cheerios or Chex because them puffs are a little chewy. I like chewy though, so it's all good. I often use this as a topping for my bowls of goodness and my yogurt (have I mentioned yet that Whole Soy and Co. yogurt is pretty much my favorite in the world? I got the courage to try it from Vegan Sunshine's blog).

So, as with all granola, feel free to add or subtract as you wish! 

Everything Granola:
3 1/2 c. dry cereal
1 1/4 c. rolled oats
1 c. dried apples, torn into small pieces
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/3 c. coconut flakes
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds
1/4 c. wheat germ
1/4 c. chopped almonds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/8 c. sesame seeds
1/4 c. coconut oil, liquid
1/4 c. liquid sweetener
1/4 c. boiling water
1/8 c. packed brown sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. whole golden flax seed
1 Tb. shelled hemp seed

1. In a large bowl, combine the cereal, oats, apples, cranberries, coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, almonds, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds. Mix thoroughly.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut oil, liquid sweetener (like agave), boiling water, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and vanilla.
3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until everything is completely mixed and coated. Spread onto a baking sheet that has been covered with a piece of parchment paper sprayed with some nonstick.
4. Bake at 325F for about 20 minutes or until nice and golden.
5. Let cool for a little bit and stir in the flax seed and hemp seed (toasting them causes them to lose their omegas).  Granola will crisp as it cools.
6. Store in a closed airtight container.

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chip Pumpkin Bread

As I just recently mentioned, I've been meaning to make something gluten-free. A couple of months ago I bought tapioca flour and potato starch to make some homemade egg replacer. I wound up having a lot of both so I set it in my pantry until I could decide what to do with it. As I was browsing some recipes I noticed that I had most of the ingredients. Last week, I went to Whole Foods and I got some bulk rice flour and some xanthan gum to actually get something made. I forced myself to spend the money on the xanthan gum (eek! $10!) but now that I have some, I can create gluten-free stuff to my heart's content (I've been secretly wanting to try out some of HEAB's protein ice cream too, except I need to get some guar gum). 
I actually wound up using most of my (GF) all-purpose flour for this recipe, but since I'm so excited to keep baking gluten-free I'll probably buy some more. I really want to make that cornbread! 

This recipe was adapted from the pumpkin bread recipe from Peace by Pastries. It's awesome, but of course, like the cook that I am, I just can't leave good enough alone! I made a few minor changes to her recipe. Basically, I halved the baking soda, xanthan gum, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. I also used only 1/2 cup of maple syrup, since I used up all my agave a couple days ago. Then (as if I haven't changed up enough already) I used only one cup of pumpkin. The main reason I made this was to use up some pumpkin that had been hanging around my fridge for a couple of days. If I had had the full amount I would have used it, but I didn't. So there. Ha! I also didn't put any walnuts in it... and I added 1/4 tsp. ginger... 

I've moved many, many, many times in the last couple of years, so both of my loaf pans have disappeared. For this recipe, I used two 9-inch rounds, but I probably only needed to use one. I oiled them up beforehand and since my lazy butt didn't want to wash the unused one, I just dumped that batter into both of them. That's just how I roll. As a result, my cake is only like, one-inch high, so I just slice it into wedges and enjoy it that way. I also added chocolate chips to one pan. It was heavenly. It was the first time I tried the pumpkin-chocolate combo, and I'm pleased to say that it was a winner (and why haven't I tried it before?)! I prefer the Enjoy Life brand of chocolate chips because they're vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free. They're also reasonably priced (around $3) and they're tiny! Who doesn't love tiny chocolate chips??

Anywho, this bread has very good texture. It's not gritty or sandy like some gluten-free baked goods can be. My mom and my sister really enjoyed it as well, and they didn't even question its origins... I will definitely make it again!

I also would've taken a picture, but it was all ate up before I got around to it! So here you go, my pumpkin bread recipe based on Peace by Pastries pumpkin bread recipe based on Babycake's banana bread recipe. Awesome.

Gluten-Free Chocolate-Chip Pumpkin Bread:
2 1/2 c. gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 c. coconut oil (liquid)
1/2 c. maple syrup
2/3 c. almond milk + 1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (mine is strong, you may need to double it)
2 Tb. ground flax seed + 2 Tb. warm water
1 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. gluten-free, vegan chocolate chips (I recommend Enjoy Life)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Lightly oil a loaf pan with some of the liquid coconut oil and set aside. Mix together the ground flax seed and warm water and set aside. Mix together the almond milk and lemon juice and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder, soda, salt, xanthan gum, and spices.
4. In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, almond milk mixture, vanilla extract, flax "egg", and pumpkin puree. Stir until well combined.
5. Add the pumpkin mixture and the coconut oil to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.
6. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and press down into the pan. The batter will be very thick.
7. Bake for about 30 minutes, rotate the pan, and then bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
8. Let cool in pan before removing.

If you don't have any gluten-free all-purpose flour, you can easily mix up a batch of your own. Sift together:

6 c. brown or white rice flour (or a mixture of both)
2 c. potato starch
1 c. tapioca flour

Store in an air-tight container. This is the recipe I use when I make gluten-free goods.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How to Roast a Pepper

I made up this post a long time ago, to go with my White Bean Chili with Rajas post. In order to make this chili, you need rajas, and if you wanna make rajas, you need to roast some poblano peppers. Luckily, roasting peppers is super easy. Don't stop with just this kind though, you can roast red peppers the same way! 

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Wash the peppers, dry them, and then give 'em a good ol' rub down with some olive oil.  Place them on a small baking sheet and let them blacken in the oven for about 30 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, turn the peppers over occasionally so they can blacken on all sides. You want them black because it's this roasting process that really brings out their flavor.

2. Remove the peppers from the oven and place them in a small dish. Cover them and let them steam for about 15 minutes or so.

3. Once the peppers are done steaming, you can easily peel off the outer skins and remove the seeds and stems. They actually come out rather easily.

So peel, peel, peel that pepper. Pick out the seeds and stems. Feelin'... aww, nevermind. 

4. Slice the peppers into strips and you're ready to finish making the rajas (or anything else involving roasted poblanos).

Just a hint: when you're shopping for these babies, pick ones that are nice and shiny and squeak when you rub them together. You don't want a soggy pepper.

This is why it takes me so long to go grocery shopping. If I'm not reading the labels or figuring up the prices, I'm out there squeaking my peppers. Geez. 

On an unrelated note, I've somehow acquired a large assortment of gluten-free flours so in an attempt to get them out of the kitchen, I'll be experimenting with a little gluten-free baking. I envision a post on gluten-free cornbread, butter beans, and greens sometime soon as well as a quiche. And potatoes. Lots of potatoes.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A CCK Post: Pumpkin Creme Brulee Oats!

I've got another breakfast-themed recipe for you all, but this time it involves an ingredient that's been making its rounds in the vegan blogworld: pumpkin.

I love pumpkin, though like everyone else, I'm a seasonal eater. Every year I get excited about fall, it's something about all the pumpkin and squashes and root vegetables I get to indulge in. I love it.

So anyway, I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Creme Brulee Oats on Chocolate Covered Katie's blog. I had never tried pumpkin in oats before, but I knew that it was a good idea!

Actually, it was an awesome idea!

I changed her recipe up a little bit, mostly by adding 2 teaspoons of brown sugar as a sweetener and halving the spices. I bought some vanilla flavor stevia drops yesterday, but I'm still a little nervous about what to do with them, so I set them aside for now. I also went ahead and used the full 1/4 cup amount of pumpkin. The result was a creamy, delicious bowl of pumpkin oaty goodness that left me seriously full by the time I finished it!

It also tasted especially good with a cup of black coffee! So thanks, CCK, for your delightful recipe! I'll be making it again and again (I gotta get my vitamin A from somewhere!! Lol).

Of COURSE there's coconut on it!

Also, if you didn't know already, Chocolate Covered Katie is hosting a giveaway on her blog for some nut butters, you should definitely check it out! I drove an hour and a half away to my nearest Whole Foods and they, along with Amazon, only have one or two of these flavors. I secretly wonder if I'll ever be able to taste raw macadamia nut butter... Anywho, check out her blog! The recipe for the Oats is included in the hyperlink above.

Pumpkin Creme Brulee Oats:
1/2 c. oats
1/4 c. canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 c. almond milk
1/2 c. water
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
dash of salt
1 Tb. cannned coconut milk

1. Combine the oats, pumpkin, almond milk, water, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl.
2. Nuke in the microwave about four minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove from the microwave, stir in the coconut milk, and top with any nuts, coconut flakes, etc. you might enjoy.

AND ONE LAST THING!! Before I forget, tomorrow is my birthday so I'm going to help my mom veganize a dessert for me. I got two hints for you: it involves pumpkin and it's not a pie. Yay!  

Friday, October 22, 2010

Favorite Breakfasts

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I'm pretty "traditional" when it comes to breakfast food. I like toasts with toppings, hot cereals with toppings, coconut or soy yogurt with granola and fruits, pancakes, veggie sausage and hashbrowns, biscuits and gravy... the list goes on and on. In fact, sometimes I can't get enough breakfast so I just eat it for my other meals as well! You will also notice that I drink a cup of coffee every morning. I'm a coffee snob and I love and enjoy every home-brewed cup. You will also notice that I like my coffee like my wardrobe... Black.

Moving on... As of lately, I've been in a sort-of bowl-o-goodness phase. Somedays I eat toast with it (I butter it with Smart Balance Light because it's cheaper than Earth Balance and just as tasty. Not all Smart Balance spreads are vegan though, so check labels), somedays I don't, but I always try to include a fruit of some sort. I also tend to add a little bit of vanilla rice protein and/or Amazing Grass to them for a little bit of a boost. Here's a sampling of some of my recent breakfasts:

Cream of Wheat with White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter, golden flax seed, dried coconut, coconut butter, and a mashed banana.

Cream of Wheat with made with some chocolate almond milk, toasted almonds, mashed bananas, and golden flax seed. This one is similar to my Energy-Packed Super Breakfast.

(Left): Cream of Wheat with coconut milk and chopped, toasted almonds, a slice of (vegan) buttered whole wheat toast, and a banana.

Oatmeal (I usually use old-fashioned or rolled oats, but I'm trying to use up the last of my mom's quick oats) with brown sugar, currants, coconut butter, toasted almonds, and dried coconut.

(Right): Cream of Wheat with coconut milk, homemade almond-currant granola, buttered whole wheat toast, and a plum (Does anyone else imagine Fez from "That '70s Show" saying the word "plum" as they type it? No?).

(Left): Overnight Oats (made with rolled oats) with almond milk, chia seeds, golden flax seeds, dried coconut, and a hint of real maple syrup. Served with a banana and another hot cup of coffee.

So there's a couple breakfasts for now. Although, since I eat one everyday I'm sure I'll be coming up with a few more delicious combos (especially now that I'm about to make a batch of homemade apple-cinnamon granola and I have apricots and dried cranberries to toss in the mix!).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Super Awesome Seitanic Fajitas

You know how you get really excited because it's pay day and you're like, "yeah, now I got that cash to get all the good stuff!" and you don't have to live off two-day old beans and peanut butter and the apples from the back of the fridge anymore?

Well, this past yesterday, that happened to me. I got paid. Immediately, I went to the grocery store. I had a small list (really, it was), but the meals that I'm making turned out to not be so small. Now I'm having a mad dash to try and figure out what I'm going to make because stuff starts to turn. I think I've got it figured out, and here's my recipes to prove it!

Today I made some seitan fajitas, they were awesome and they totally fulfilled by fajita craving. Aside from the standard veggie fajita, I think seitan is the way to go. It has the best texture, it can be cut into strips, and you can marinate it for some truly zippy flavor.

These fajitas are marinated overnight and then sauteed up with bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, and served with avocado slices and green salsa. I like to stuff a little lettuce in there too, just for good measure. I was really effing hungry when I came home and made these, and in less than 30 minutes I had dinner on my plate. I was prepared to eat like, three or four, but I could only eat two (and from then on, only one!). That seitan is seriously filling! This recipe makes quite a few fajitas, probably enough to feed 4-6 people.

Seriously. How do you photograph a fajita?

Super Awesome Seitanic Fajitas:
     Juice and zest of 1 orange
     Juice and zest of 1 lime
     1 jalapeno, minced
     1 Tb. garlic, minced
     2 Tb. olive oil
     1 tsp. cumin
     1/2 tsp. oregano
     1/8 tsp. salt
     1 lb. seitan, sliced into thin strips (or chunks, I just prefer thin strips)
1 onion, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 red pepper, sliced
1/2 yellow or orange pepper, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced into wedges
1 avocado, sliced
Green tomatillo salsa
Tortilla shells

1. Mix the marinade ingredients, add the sliced seitan strips, stir to mix and coat the strips, then cover and allow to marinate for a few hours or overnight.
2. Brown the seitan strips in a large skillet sprayed with nonstick. Once they're nice and toasty, take them off the heat and set aside.
3. Clean out any brown bits, respray the skillet with nonstick and return it to the heat. Add the onion, bell peppers, and tomatoes and saute until the veggies are crisp-tender and the tomatoes are slightly broken down, about five minutes.
4. Add the seitan to the skillet to heat through and combine with all the other veggies.

To serve: Place the seitan and fajita veggies on a tortilla, top with avocado slices, green salsa, and lettuce. Enjoy!

My mom, who's not vegetarian at all, actually munched on my fajita mix and enjoyed it! That's the second time she's tried seitan. It makes me proud!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Long-Forgotten Falafel

Yesterday I realized that I've never posted my recipe for falafel on here. It kind of blew my mind. I mean, here I have this awesome vegan recipe and I've never even bothered to mention it!

My old roommate turned me on to falafel. I don't think I would have tried it if it wasn't for her, just because it would be one of those recipes that I'd "get around to" eventually. Well, I'm glad she got me to make them because they're awesome. I've made this recipe dozens of times, it's one of my keepers, and better yet, I now pronounce the word "falafel" correctly!

The first time I made these, I didn't have a food processor. I hand-mashed the chickpeas in a large bowl with fork. I later put the recipe away for a time when I could get one. However, $3 and two garage sales later I had myself a fancy new food processor and the recipe was pulled back out with much fanfare (I put out a need in the universe... it's the thrift store mantra. Ask and ye shall receive!).

In my recipe, the falafel is baked instead of fried. I've never really ate fried food, it's not my thing. My mom never made it as a kid and we never went out to eat, so it wasn't really around. I'm not gonna lie either, I could fry stuff in those big restaurant fryers, but when it comes to frying at home I don't know what to and I don't care to learn, so that's that! These babies are baked!

This recipe makes about 24 falafels (is that right? With the "s" on there like that?) and I usually do three falafels per pita.

1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tb. tahini
1 Tb. flax seed meal + 2 Tb. water
1 tsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. parsley 1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tb. minced onion
1/4 c. fine (vegan) bread crumbs

Yogurt Sauce:
1 c. plain soy yogurt (or yogurt of choice)
1 Tb. lemon juice
1/2 Tb. cumin
1/4 tsp. parsley
1/4 tsp. grated lemon peel

Pita bread, warmed
Red onion slices
Tomato slices
Cucumber slices

1. Pulse chickpeas, tahini, lemon peel, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, coriander, chili powder, and salt in a food processor until mostly smooth, but still chunky.

2. Transfer chickpea mixture to a bowl and stir in bread crumbs, onion, and parsley.

3. Make small meatball-sized balls and placed on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake at 325 for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the outside. Be sure to flip it over once while baking and flatten it down.

4. To make Yogurt Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl.

To serve: Fill warm pita halves with a few falafels (is that right? Falafels?). Then stuff the filled pita with lettuce, tomato slices, red onions slices, cucumber slices, and a couple tablespoons of yogurt sauce. Enjoy!

1. To make this falafel gluten-free, simply sub 1/4 c. gluten-free breadcrumbs. Alternatively, you can toast about two slices of GF bread in the oven at 350 until browned and pulse into fine crumbs using the food processor (do this before you make the falafels). You may need to put them on a baking sheet back in the oven for a couple minutes to toast them a little more. You'll also need to sub out the pitas. I like to use romaine hearts and serve it in romaine "boats". You could also use GF pitas (there's a recipe here, but I have yet to try it).

2. To use fresh parsley in the falafel, simply sub the dried for one cup of fresh (stems removed). You'll need to give the food processor a few extra whirls to get it chopped and incorporated.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Energy-Packed Super Breakfast!

I like to make my breakfast powerful.

Very powerful.

I like it full of good stuff and lots of tasty goodness.

That's right, my recipes are based on a scale of tastiness, from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the most tasty). This recipe right here is about a 9.0, and it's one of my favorite ways to start the day. I am in class all day long, and some days I don't really get a lunch, so I need something that can satisfy me and keep me going for awhile (at least until my midafternoon LaraBar and ginger kombucha... aww, yeah).

This recipe does just that, not only is it packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, and fiber, it's got chocolate it in.

But before I give you the recipe, I'd like to share an ingredient with you:

Amaing Grass Green SuperFood in Chocolate.

I was really nervous about trying any sort of "green" powder, mostly because I was nervous at how it would taste. The stats were so impressive though, it's full of enzymes, minerals, vitamins, beneficial phytochemicals, prebiotics, and so on. It's also gluten-free and 100% vegan.

Here's the ingredients:
Organic and All Natural Whole Food Ingredients:
Amazing Grass Green Food Blend 3252Mg: Organic Wheat Grass, Organic Barley Grass, Organic Alfalfa, Organic Spirulina, Organic Spinach, Organic Chlorella (Cracked Cell-wall), Organic Broccoli

Chocolate Blend 3068Mg: Organic Dutch Cocoa, Organic Redwood Cocoa, Organic Cacao, Natural Chocolate Flavoring

Antioxidant Blend 295Mg: Organic Acai, Organic Maca, Organic Carrot, Organic Beet, Raspberry, Organic Rose Hips, Pineapple, Green Tea, Acerola Cherry

Efa Fiber Blend 833Mg: Organic Flax Seed Powder, Organic Oat Fiber, Apple Pectin Fiber

Digestive Enzyme and Active Culture Pre & Pro Biotic Blend 440Mg: F.o.s (From Chicory Root), L. Acidophilus, Alpha and Beta Amylase, Protease, Lipase, Lactase

Cellulase Energizing Herb Blend 20Mg: Siberian Eleuthera Root, Peppermint

Other Ingredients -Organic Sea Salt
Amazing Grass's Website

Okay, so now that you know the important stuff... IT TASTES AWESOME. I was so pleased with the taste of it that I'm going to buy the large container when I run out. It had a 5-star rating on Amazon, and I'm very glad I decided to trust those reviewers. I also give it five stars!

You know you want me.

I was convinced by Chocolate Covered Katie to make Brownie Batter Pancakes with a dose of Green SuperFood in them, and I'm going to do that, but first I'm going to enjoy my Cream of Wheat:

Energy-Packed Super Breakfast:
3 Tb. dry hot farina cereal (like Cream of Wheat)
1/2 c. chocolate almond milk (sweetened)
1/4 c. water
1 banana
1/2 scoop Amazing Grass Green SuperFood
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used the 8gram Amazing Grass scoop, so about 1/2 Tb.)
1 Tb. hemp seeds
1 Tb. granola of choice
1 Tb. canned coconut milk (opt.)

1. Combine the farina cereal in a bowl with the chocolate almond milk and the water. Cook according to package directions (basically, three minutes stirring every 30 seconds after the first minute until it's all nice and fluffy).
2. Mash the banana in the cooked cereal and mix it in, though if all else fails you can just slice the banana in there.
3. Stir in the Chocolate SuperFood powder and protein powder. Stir in the coconut milk if using.
4. Top with hemp seeds and granola.

I also eat this with a piece of fruit and a hot cup of coffee and sometimes with a piece of buttered toast.

In total, this meal adds up to be about 15 grams of protein, including the coconut milk, and not including any toast. You could also make this recipe the exact same, but substitute some rolled oats for the farina. That will increase the protein a little bit. Also, because I use sweetned almond milk I didn't add any additional sugar (I didn't need to). You might have to adjust the sweetness for your taste.

It's not pretty, but it sure is tasty (and good for you!!).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Coconut Cream Pie Pancakes

I love coconut. In fact, I'm pretty much obsessed with it. It's weird. If I could grow a coconut palm in my backyard, I totally would. But I can't cause I'm in Missouri, so I make up for it by keeping a constant supply of products in my kitchen. I have coconut flavoring, dried coconut, coconut milk, coconut water, coconut oil, and coconut butter in my kitchen right now! When I was a non-vegan little kid, I used to ask my family for the coconut chocolate in the box of chocolates because I knew that would be the one they'd take a bite of on accident and throw away. I wasn't having that!! Literally, when I found out about Artisana coconut butter, I almost died. Then, when it finally arrived in my HyVee a year later, I bought some, took it home, ate it on a slice of peanut butter toast, and danced around my house. Luckily, this kind of behavior is expected of me.

There. Now you know about my coconut obsession...

Anywho, I'm pretty sure I've been promising you this pancake recipe for like, a year now. It is one of my all-time favorites, and I make it whenever I have a little bit of canned coconut milk left in the fridge. I modified my original recipe to create a "healthier" version (though, I'm being honest here, it's still a tasty, tasty pancake). I even reduced the calories a little bit without reducing any of the flavor. It's awesome.

I added the water because I wanted a thinner pancake this time around, but you can leave it out if you'd like. The banana helps to give some sweetness and body (and to serve as an "egg"), but if you aren't feeling fruity today, you can leave it out. In fact, I almost never add the banana to this recipe. With pancakes, you don't really need an "egg", but I think the next time around I'll make a flax seed egg, just for the nutty flavor.

So here you go, for the pancake-lover in you:

Coconut Cream Pie Pancakes:
1 1/3 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
2/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 c. shredded coconut, toasted, unsweetened
1 Tb. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. almond milk
1/2 c. coconut milk
1/2 c. water
1 very ripe banana, mashed (optional)
1/2 tsp. coconut extract/flavor
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and coconut. Whisk to combine.
2. In a medium bowl, mash up the banana and add the brown sugar, almond milk, coconut milk, water, coconut flavor, and vanilla extract. Mix well to combine.
3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until just combined.
4. Place about a 1/4 c. amount of batter on a hot skillet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cook over medium until bubbles form in the center and it's dry around the edges.
5. Flip pancake over and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until golden brown. Repeat process with all the batter, spraying with nonstick spray occasionally if needed.

I just can't make a joke about nuts. So here... pancakes.

I really enjoy these pancakes topped with Artisana coconut butter, a touch of maple syrup, and some of the leftover toasted coconut, but fruit and sweetened coconut cream are also a super tasty topping!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

I had a bunch of homegrown butternut squashes just hanging out in my kitchen. I usually wind up roasting it with some potatoes and onions, but I wanted to try something new. Since the weather has cooled dramatically here (dropping almost 15 degrees in about three weeks), I've decided that it's time to start rolling in the autumn food. So, I've decided to use half my squashes for roasting, and the other half for making soup!

I love butternut squash soup. It's very creamy and filling, and nothing beats it with a hunk of fresh bread. This particular recipe has been veganized from a very highly-rated Alton Brown (of Food Network fame) recipe.

Remeber when I said that I would post my failures as well? Well, this is one of them. I love butternut squash, but I did not love this soup. It winds of being a sort-of sweet soup and I should've known better and made it more savory, that's just the kind of girl I am. However, if you enjoy butternut squash soups that contain a sweetness, this recipe would be for you! Next time I'll just make mine with vegetables and herbs.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup:
2 large Butternut squashes, cut into 2" chunks (about 6 cups), with seeds and strings removed
1 Tb. Earth Balance, melted
1/2 Tb. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground white pepper, plus 1/2 tsp.
3 c. vegetable broth
4 Tb. agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/2 c. coconut cream (scooped from a can of full-fat coconut milk)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place squash pieces on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Brush the pieces with the melted Earth Balance, and sprinkle with the 1/2 Tb. kosher salt and 1 tsp. white pepper.
3. Roast 35-50 minutes or until the squash is soft.
4. Scoop the flesh from the skin and place into a blender. Blend all the squash with some of the vegetable broth (enough to make it smooth), then place it into a large pot. If you happen to have a hand blender, you can just put all the squash in the pot and blend it from there.
5. Add the rest of the stock, the agave nectar, and the ginger. Stir to combine. Bring the soup to a simmer, and the coconut cream, and season to taste with the kosher salt (if needed), 1/2 tsp. white pepper, and the nutmeg. Simmer until it's completely heated through.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Kombucha is Back!!

Finally, after a long hiatus (thanks, FDA..). My organic raw kombucha is back on the store shelves!!

No kombucha mushroom people were harmed in the making of this tea.

When I went into HyVee today to pick up some Tofurkey Brats and sauerkraut (which was awesomely tasty, by the way), I noticed that my beloved Gingerade flavor of kombucha was back on the shelf. Yeah, I know, I know, it's easier and cheaper to make it yourself at home, but I don't think my parents would enjoy the idea of a large mushroom growing in their kitchen (and furthermore... where would I put it?!).

In case you might not know, kombucha is a culture (kind of like a muchroom, but not really) that is fermented about 30 days. During this time, amino acids, active enzymes, polyphenols, antioxidants, and viable probiotics form. The brand I drink (GT's Organic Raw Kombucha), mixes this fizzy kobucha water with plant extracts and/or flavors. I prefer the Gingerade flavor (ingredients: raw kombucha, ginger juice, love!). It's sometimes cultured in tea, so that where the term "kombucha tea" comes from.

It's weird. When I first drank kombucha I was taken aback by it's strong flavor (it's sort of vinegary due to the natural acetic acid found it in), but after that first sip, I started to CRAVE it. It was like my body was saying, "I NEED IT NOW". These past four months without it have made me sad, but that's over and it's back to old habits!

GT's Kombucha website (for more info)

And here's the bullcrap reason why it was pulled off the shelves: it could be subject to alcohol laws.

Here's a little article from someone who knows a little more about what they're talking about than I do (LOL):
Reformulated Kombucha Back in Stores

I also noticed that the new kombucha was a little smoother when I first tried it, but when all that sold out at the grocery store and the next case moved in, it seemed to taste more like the original. Fresher, prehaps? Hmm...

Lentil Soup with Red Wine

I really enjoy a big ol' bowl of lentils. Amazing, I never had them growing up. As a new vegan, I decided to expand my culinary palette by trying lots of new foods, and lentils was one of them. One of my favorite food combinations is lentils and greens, and believe it or not, I actually had some greens on hand when I made some this time around! This soup was definitely one of those moments where I was pretty much tossing everything into a pot (at least when it came to the veggies). However, the broth is enhanced by the addition of red wine.

I'm not a drinker. I just want to say that up front. A couple times a year I might drink half a good beer or half a glass of wine, but it general I just don't like filling my tummy up with alcoholic liquids. I will, however, cook with them occasionally. Alcohol is destroyed by heat, so keep in mind that anytime you add beer or wine to a recipe the alcohol will literally evaporate out of the dish, leaving behind a nice tasty flavor. Red wine is very good in "dark" broths (broths that are traditionally beefy) and white wine is good in "light" broths (broths that are traditionally chicken). In going with the idea of a hearty stew, I decided to use a semi-sweet red wine and a rich vegetable broth to give this dish flavor. The wine really perks up your taste buds.

Just be sure to use a vegan wine, preferably local, to keep this dish cruelty free. Also, if the wine doesn't taste good when you drink it by itself, then it won't taste good when it's cooked either!!! Don't cook with it if you won't drink it!! Also, DON'T use anything labeled "... Cooking Wine" (such as red cooking wine, or red sherry wine). These wines are super, super salty, and they will most likely ruin the flavor of the dish. If you choose not to cook with wine, simply add more vegetable broth.

Also, in this dish I used French lentils. They take about an hour to cook. If you have green or brown ones at home, you can use those just as easily and they cook in about 45 minutes. Just adjust the recipe as necessary so the lentils and vegetables get done at the same time. Since tomato paste is acidic, I usually wait and add it (and the salt) and the end with everything else is already cooked. Lentils will toughen if too much acid is in the pot.

Dare I say that that's health in a bowl?

Lentil Soup with Red Wine:
3/4 c. French lentils
1 c. potatoes, diced
1/2 c. yellow onion, diced
1/2 c. celery, diced
1/2 c. carrots, chopped
1/2 bunch kale, tough stems and veins removed, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 Tb. tomato paste
1/2 Tb. agave nectar
3 c. vegetable broth
1 c. good red wine (I used a semi-sweet wine)
Sea salt to taste

1. In a soup pot, rinse and sort lentils. Add the vegetable broth, wine, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer about 20 minutes.
2. Add the potatoes, onion, celery, carrots, kale, garlic, bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and white pepper. Let cook for 40 more minutes or until lentils are done.
3. Once the lentils are done, add the tomato paste, agave nectar, and salt to taste. Let simmer a few more minutes. Acidity and salt will cause the lentils to toughen, so I usually add them at the end. Once all the vegetables and lentils are done, remove from the heat and enjoy! Tastes great paired with some whole wheat peasant bread!

Man, I wish I had some more of this right now! Those leftovers went pretty fast...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Rant About Waste and Arugula Pesto

I really hate wasting food, so I avoid it at all costs. I feel very blessed that I'm able to have a continuous supply of healthy food, so I am most careful to eat it all up and avoid any unneccesary tossing of food.

There are a few ways I keep food waste down:

1. I only buy enough produce to last me about a week at a time.

I realize that this isn't practical for everybody, but it's always a good idea to be mindful when you're getting groceries. Try not to buy more fresh items than you think you can reasonably use (though this is easier said that done, especially when all the good stuff is on sale!).

2. I use the stuff that tends to go bad first before other foods.

For example: kale stays crispy and tasty for most of the week while mild lettuces (like Boston or Butterhead lettuce) get nasty in about two days. I always try to use the faster spoiling food items first.

3. I rotate and label my pantry.

It sounds like work, but it's actually just me writing on a glass jar with a sharpie marker when the stuff expires. I'm a foodie so I tend to have a lot of different food items lying around: a few different kinds of nuts, a medley of grains, an assortment of flours... when you don't use something that often you tend to forget about it. When I inspect my pantry now and then I'll pull an item to the front that needs to be used up, and I'll use that up before going back to my newer stuff.

4. If it's about to go, I cook it.

Bananas getting too brown? Freeze them for smoothies or make some banana bread. Spinach doesn't have much life left? Make some Palak Tofu (vegan Palak Paneer) or another cooked spinach dish. Grains needing to be cooked up? Toss in a soup. Not only does cooking extend the life of a food for a little bit, but in some cases (like in cooking spinach) you can use up the whole bag before it spoils. If all else fails, cook and freeze it (or just freeze it!).

All this ranting brings me to my recipe. See, I had a point!

I had made the Walnut Pate Sandwich with Pears and Arugula from this month's issue of Vegetarian Times (it was alright by the way... just alright). I was left with almost and entire package of arugula and I started to freak out a little bit. Arugula is pretty strong tasting and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be enjoying any arugula salads unless they were all fancied up and I don't have the cash for that (but to clarify, the organic arugula only cost me $2.50, so that was pretty awesome). I knew it needed to be used up and it needed to be used up fast. So what did I do? I googled that bitch.

After recipe browsing I finally decided that pesto would be the way to go because I had all the ingredients and because I could use up the entire package of arugula. Once the pesto was made I stuck it in the freezer, so that I can make some pasta with it later on (I'm thinking... arugula pesto pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red peppers... it sounds fancy, right??). I believe it will also stay good in the fridge for about a week if you cover the top of it with a thin layer of olive oil. I mixed the nuts because I didn't have enough to use just one kind, and I used some fresh basil to balance out the peppery arugula.

Arugula Pesto:
1 (5 oz) package arugula (I believe it's around 2 cups packed)
1/2 c. fresh basil, packed
1/4 c. walnuts
1/4 c. pine nuts
1 Tb. minced garlic
1/3 c. olive oil (good quality)

1. Toast walnuts and pine nuts in a 350F oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes. You could leave the nuts raw, but toasting brings out their flavor.
2. In a food processor, pulse the nuts and garlic until crumbly. Add the arugula and basil to the food processor and combine with the nuts. You will need to work in a couple of batches. Add the oil between batches to help keep everything moving.
3. Once everything is added, process until everything is well combined. Store in the fridge or place in the freezer. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

White Bean Chili with Rajas

I thought I'd stop for a moment and do a little bit of a recipe review.

I've mentioned before that I'm a devoted subscriber to Vegetarian Times. I've subscribed for years, and one of the main things that keeps me with it is the fact that almost every recipe I've tried from them has been a winner. Their recipes often help get me out of a food rut and they encourage me to try new foods and flavors that I might otherwise pass up.

In this month's issue I found a section on poblano peppers. Poblanos are great because they pack a lot of flavor without a lot of heat. Roasting them brings out their flavor even more, and this white bean chili uses the depth of the roasted rajas to give it a lot of substance. Rajas is a mix of roasted poblano peppers, onions, garlic, and oregano. It's used in this chili, but it's also good as a topper for tostadas, nachos, or burritos (hello, Mexican breakfast burrito!).

I was skeptical of this recipe at first because it doesn't have very many ingredients, but once I started making it, I realized that sometimes simple IS better and this chili fits that bill. This chili, mostly made up of white beans, rajas, corn, and a few spices was exactly what I was looking for in a meal. To serve it, I topped it with some toasted pumpkins seeds like the recipe suggested, but I left off the melted goat cheese topping to make it vegan. To make it a little more hearty I served it over some baked Yukon Gold potatoes, which I thought went hand-in-hand with the chili, making it quite a substantial meal.

My only complaint was that I made a half batch instead of a full one (but I usually do that when I'm trying something new). I will definitely make this again. So, go pick up this month's issue of VT and check it out!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I think I've stressed before that pancakes are a fifth food group for me. I LOVE them, and since I'm always switching up the ingredients, flavors, and toppings, they never get old. This particular pancake recipe is very super lazy, weekday morning pancakes. You know, for those days were it's chilly outside and you want something a little more substantial, and a little out of the ordinary.

The batter is made up the night before, that way all you have to do in the morning is heat up a pan and cook yourself up a batch. In fact, you don't even have to make them all at once. You can just cook what you want and put the rest back in the fridge.

Another time saver is to use already-prepared pancake mix, but since you're making them the night before, it's up to you.
I prefer to add my chocolate chips to the pancakes as they're baking (like in the picture below), but you can also stir them into the batter the night before. This is what is directed in the recipe. I just didn't want them to be too rich, because I still planned on topping them with some Earth Balance and real maple syrup!

Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes:
1 1/3 c. buckwheat pancake mix (I used Arrowhead Mills)
2/3 c. almond milk
2/3 c. water
4 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. chocolate chips

1. In a medium bowl, combine the pancake mix, almond milk, water, brown sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chips. Stir well to combine, cover, then place in the fridge overnight.
2. The next morning, add some more water or almond milk to get the water to your desired pancake consistency (less water equals thicker pancakes, more water equals thinner ones).
3. In a skillet sprayed with nonstick, place about 1/4 c. batter onto the skillet. If you decided not to stir the chocolate chips into the batter the night before, you can sprinkle them onto the pancake like so:
My pancakes are better than your Golden Grahams, biatch.

Don't worry, they won't make your skillet all chocolatey. Once the edges become dry and there are bubbles in the center of the pancake, flip them and allow them to cook on the other side for a couple more minutes.
4. You can either respray the skillet with nonstick and keep going, or you can place the batter in the fridge and come back to it later. It's up to you!

I like these served traditionally, with vegan butter, syrup, and a hot cup of coffee. After having chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, I'm totally ready for the long day ahead!

A note: you can use this method with pretty much any pancake recipe, though depending on the ingredients some will come out more spongy (such as ones with buttermilk), or thinner. You don't need an egg for this recipe (or practically ever for pancakes), but if you wanted to add an "egg" made out of mashed banana which would actually be really tasty in this recipe, I would add it that morning. I assume it would get all brown in the fridge overnight (but I could be wrong!).

Monday, October 4, 2010

Kale and Onions

I LOVE kale. It stays crunchy when you cook it (unless you cook it for a really long time), and it has a flavor that isn't too bitter or peppery. It's awesome as some greenery tossed in a soup or even as a glorious side dish on it's own (which is what I've done here).

I've seen some raw recipes that include kale, but your average raw kale is very broccoli-smelling. It doesn't really taste like broccoli once it's cooked, but I assume it would raw. The kale most often used for raw smoothies and salads is Lacinto kale, which has smaller, more slender and tender leaves. It's not found around here, so maybe one day I'll try this regular stuff raw in a salad. Maybe...

Also, Kale can be dehydrated or oven-baked to make kale "chips". It sounds crazy, but they're awesome. You put a little oil and some seasoning on them and they crunch right up and are completely addictive. I've usually made them in the oven, but I'd like to make a batch in the dehydrator because I think they might hold their shape a little better. I'll post a recipe for them and I'll weigh in on the different methods. I still got half a bunch of kale in the fridge right now that's speaking to me.

And now for those nutritionistas: Kale is a nutrient-packed green. In a 1 cup serving of chopped (raw) kale you'll get a decent amount of calcium, about 90 mg or 9% of your RDA, plus 206% of your RDA of Vitamin A, 134% of your RDA of Vitamin C, 2 grams of protein, no sugar, no fat, and only 33 calories. It's also a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, iron (and all us ladies need our iron), folate, magnesium, and phosphorus. It also has a very low glycemic index and is a strong anti-inflammatory. One cup of cooked kale winds up equaling about 2 cups of raw. (Source).

Anywho, this is what you really came here for, a recipe, right?

Kale and Onions:
1/2 of a large bunch of kale, tough stems removed, ripped to pieces, and washed
1/2 a yellow onion, very thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or 3 tsp. minced)
2 Tb. olive oil
1 1/4 c. vegetable broth and/or water
1/4 c. chopped almonds
2 Tb. balsamic vinegar
Sea salt to taste

1. In a large pot, saute the onion over medium-high heat until soft and golden brown. Add the garlic and saute 2-3 more minutes or until fragrant.
2. Add the kale and the vegetable broth, cover, and let simmer for about 30 minutes or until kale is tender and broth has evaporated.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 and toast the almonds until golden brown. About five minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
4. To serve, top half the kale with 2 Tb. almonds, 1 Tb. vinegar, and sea salt. Can add more vinegar according to your preferences. Makes two nice-sized servings.

Ahh, kale. Tasty, tasty kale.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Almond-Currant Granola

I've been meaning to make some homemade granola for some time, but it finally became a plan for action today when I was looking at the packaged granola for my breakfast. Instead of paying over $5 for a small package of all-natural granola, I spent about $1.50 for the same sized amount. Not only that, but it has everything in it I like, and nothing I don't!

This granola is quick and easy to make and you can just use it as a guideline to making your own variety. In the future I'd like to make an apple-cinnamon variety, a wild blueberry-vanilla variety, and a chocolate-hazelnut variety.

That's right... I'm just getting started!

Anywho, in these recipe I used currants, which are a dried berry that taste a lot like raisins. You could just use raisins if you'd like (or whatever small dried fruit you want). I also waited until after the granola had come out of the oven before I added the flax seed since heat destroys the Omegas found in it.
This recipe winds up making about 3-ish cups of granola.

Almond-Currant Granola:
2 c. rolled oats (NOT quick oats)
1/4 c. chopped almonds
1/4 c. shredded coconut
1/4 c. currants
3 Tb. coconut oil (liquefied)
4 Tb. real maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 Tb. golden whole flax seed

1. Preheat the oven to 425.
2. In a small bowl, combine the rolled oats, almonds, coconut, currants, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until well-combined.
3. On a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, place granola in a single, even layer.
4. Bake for 10 minutes, then give the granola a good toss.
5. Bake for 5-10 more minutes or until granola is golden brown.
6. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, then add the flax seeds. Stir to combine.
7. Let cool completely before storing the granola in a covered container. It will crisp as it cools.

I've also decided that my blog won't just be for recipes, but for the day-to-day stuff I eat too. I like to read other people's blogs and I like to see all the regular everyday food they eat, so I might as well do it on mine. I might even share my failures... maybe....