Monday, January 31, 2011

Hearty Seitan Chili

I have been on a crazy mission to save money. I am literally trying to save up as much money as possible before April of next year because I've got some serious plans. I'll divulge these plans at a later date, because right now I'm still very much in the planning phase (and it may or may not involve the state in the picture to the left).

Anywho, one of the main things I spend money on (other than school and gas) is food. I admit I'm a foodie. Food is a hobby for me and people tend to spend money on their hobbies. But, since I'm aiming to be so tight with money that I squeak when I walk, I'm clamping down on my food budget. Any alotted monies I don't spend on food at the end of the month goes back into my savings, to NOT BE TOUCHED until April of next year. Whew!

This recipe is a very good example of food on a budget. The seitan was homemade. I made one very large batch here and then froze it into three 16-oz. portions. Seitan freezes very well. Upon thawing, there isn't any change in texture or taste. Homemade seitan saves a bunch of money. I would never pay for it in a store. Also, chipotle chiles freeze very well. You usually get quite a bit of use out of one small can because most recipes only use 1-2 chiles at a time. I place them in a freezer proof container and dig them out when I need them. They also chop better when frozen, in case you were curious... The mushrooms were bought in bulk, because not only does that save money it keeps me from buying any Styrofoam. I abhor that stuff. The tomatoes and tomato paste were bought at Big Lots. Stuff like spices and liquid smoke last a long time, so I always have them on hand and dried beans are a God-send. About $3 bought me about 3 pounds of beans. That makes many meals. Vegan Worcestershire can often be found next to the regular Worcestershire, so there's no need to buy expensive health food store brands. The only item on this list that's expensive is my maple syrup, so I mostly use it for pancakes and recipes that call for amounts less than 1/4 cup. For most baking, unless I want the specific maple flavor, I'll use other sweeteners or even reduce the sugar or add in natural sweeteners like no-sugar-added applesauce. I'ts plenty sweet and not that expensive (plus... you can eat it for a snack... lol).

As a side note... Big Lots... I LOVE that place. From now on, I'm going to start my grocery shopping there. Seriously. Tomato paste $0.25. Canned tomatoes... Well, I'd tell you the price if I remembered. Lol. They always have canned beans there too, often organic, for lower prices than regular grocery stores. They even have stuff like whole wheat pastas (sometimes alternative grain and gluten-free), nuts (like Wonderful in-shell roasted pistachios for $3.50), cereals (often organic), and aseptic containers of soymilk. Just this past week I found my one of my favorite flavors of ClifBars (Maple Nut) for $0.70 each. That's more than $0.75 off the regular price per bar. I stocked up! They also have weekly specials. Last week's included jars of Nutella... If you have one, check it out!

Click here for a Big Lots store locater.

Hearty Seitan Chili:
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 Tb. minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced (about 1-2 Tb. minced chili plus about 1/2 tsp. adobo sauce)-
1 1/2 c. baby bella mushrooms, finely chopped
3 c. homemade seitan, chopped (or pulsed in a food processor)
1 (15 oz) can petite diced OR crushed tomatoes
1/2 a small can tomato paste
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
3/4 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 - 1 tsp. liquid smoke (depending on how much you like it)
1 c. dried black beans
1 c. dried kidney beans
1 c. dried pinto beans
1 c. carrots, chopped
2 Tb. low-sodium tamari
1 Tb. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tb. real maple syrup

1. In a large Dutch oven, combine all the dried beans, sort and pick through them, then add plenty of water to cover and allow them to soak 8 hours or overnight.
2. The next morning, drain the beans, add fresh water (up to about one inch over the beans) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3. Meanwhile, saute the onions in a skillet sprayed with some nonstick over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Add the garlic, minced chipotle chili, mushrooms, and seitan. Saute another five minutes or so. This is mostly to get the seitan a little browned and crumbly. Add the smoked paprika, chili powder, celery salt, and cumin and saute until fragrant, about 1-2 more minutes. Set aside.
4. Once the beans are done, drain off most of the cooking liquid. I only kept enough to just cover the beans and it was the perfect amount. Once drained, add the sauteed seitan mixture, as well as the can of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, liquid smoke, carrots, tamari, Worcestershire sauce, and maple syrup. Give it all a nice, big stir.
5. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes or until the carrots are done. Enjoy with crackers or cornbread!

I was gonna make some cornbread to eat with this, but I ran out of time. If I decide to make some, I'll definitely post the recipe. For some reason, I can never remember to put my cornbread recipe on here! Also, just in case you'd like to know, this chili has 24 grams of protein and only 1.5 grams of fat per each one-cup serving!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tamari-Miso Tofu and Veggies

There's something about winter that really makes me crave miso.

Well, actually, let me rephrase that... There's something about this winter that has really been making me crave miso. I haven't tried very much Japanese food at all. There aren't any Japanese restaurants around here and I usually get distracted by making a lot of Thai or Korean food instead (Kimchi warms my soul). However, one of the things I have tried is miso, and I truly love it. I've only tried the white, mild miso, because that's all I can find, but I'm really curious to try chickpea and red miso. I'm sure that when I buy my first jar I'll let you all know!

Anywho. Now that my salad phase is over (it's been over for awhile), I've been eating a lot of stir-fry. And noodles. I recently broke out of my stir-fry bubble though, and I've added a few new items to "the usual".

First off, edamame. Edamame is super tasty in stirfry. It's also nice when you're lazy because you don't have to press it or anything. You can just throw it in the skillet and get an awesome protein punch. I didn't use it in this stir-fry, but I did in my last one.

Another thing I tried: zucchini. I love zucchini. I have no idea what I haven't thrown it in a stir-fry, considering I see it on Chocolate-Covered Katie's blog all the time. BEST IDEA EVER.

I also skipped the green pepper. I used to like green pepper a lot, and although I still do, I've found that I've started shifting toward the riper bell peppers.

Greens + Stirfry = An even more awesome stirfry. Hiding in there is some bok choy, though I think I'd like to maybe make one with some savoy cabbage. I'll have to buy one the next time I get groceries (assuming I can find one). They're in season as well.

And one last thing (and probably the main one here), I also broke out of my box and made this here stirfry with some of my miso!

Although this stirfry isn't the most picture-worthy (I was way too hungry to spend any time making it look pretty. Also, I was too lazy to make my tofu cubes crispy and golden brown. Hehe), I really enjoyed it, and I'm going to be making it again in a day or so! I also served it with thin rice noodles, because I associate them with restaurant meals and eating them make me feel fancy (also 4 minutes to cook!). You can adjust the veggies as necessary, but I think these here are an awesome combination.

Tamari-Miso Tofu and Vegetables:
1 zucchini, sliced into rounds
3/4 a red bell pepper, sliced (you can use a whole, I just didn't have a whole...)
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 c. bok choy, sliced (about a third of the bunch)
2-4 baby bella or white button mushrooms, sliced 
1/2 a yellow onion, sliced
1/2 pkg. firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes 

Tamari-Miso sauce:
1 1/2 Tb. tamari or Bragg's
Juice of half a lime (about 1 Tb.)
1 Tb. rice vinegar
1 Tb. vegetable broth
1/2 Tb. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tsp. siracha chile paste
1 tsp. agave
1 tsp. white miso
Enough arrowroot/cornstarch to thicken it (I usually just sprinkle the stuff in the skillet 'til it gets as thick as I like it).

1. Press the tofu about 15 minutes, draining occasionally, then cut into cubes. Spray a skillet with nonstick and then cook over medium-high until golden brown (I just went with about 5 minutes here. I didn't mind my tofu on the softer side). Set tofu cubes aside. Wipe out skillet, then spray with nonstick for the stirfry.
2. Meanwhile, prep veggies and mix together the tamari-miso sauce. When skillet is ready to go, add all the veggies at once (no broccoli to slow down cooking time) and the tofu. Let cook over high for about three minutes. Then add the sauce. Stirfry for about another minute or two, or until the veggies and tofu have some time to absorb the sauce.
3. Serve with rice noodles, a slice of lime, and some additional siracha and maybe some additional Bragg's (if you made the sauce with it). Enjoy!

I just might up the white miso when I make this again, and maybe make it a little spicer...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup

My friend, Ally (the Wandering Hen), mentioned to me the other day that she found a Chipotle Butternut Squash soup recipe that sounded amazing. Since soup, butternuts, and chipotle chiles are some of my favorite foods, I knew I had to make that soup. I was also pretty happy because it wasn't a sweet squash soup. After my other butternut soup disappointment, I decided I would go the savory route from then on.  

So thank you, Ally! Without you this soup would not be possible! Who knows how many years would have passed before I stumbled upon such an idea!

I got this recipe from Vivek's Epicurean Adventures. It's a very meat-centered blog that, to be honest, I'm not really that interested in, but this recipe (with the except of the optional dollop of cream) was accidentally vegan. However, due to his blog I found a link to Enjoy Indian Food. It's a seriously authentic Indian food blog and I will definitely be coming back for more of that!

Anywho, about the only addition I made to this soup was to leave out the cilantro and add in some great northern beans for some protein. They're kind of a mild bean so I figured they'd blend in quite well. I'm also forgoing the ancho chili powder and lime zest, because I don't have any and instead graced the soup with some toasted pepitas.

I had been waiting on this soup all day long! I couldn't wait to get out of class and start working on it. I'm so excited to be eating it at the moment I'm typing this!

Chipotle Butternut Squash Soup:
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 Tb. garlic, minced
2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 (15 oz) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Toasted pepitas
Sea salt and white pepper to taste

1. Saute the onions, carrots, and celery over medium heat in a soup pot with a little nonstick spray or oil.
2. Add the garlic, chipotle chiles, and cumin seed and saute until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
3. Add the butternut squash, beans, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is soft. It's okay if there's not a lot of liquid in there. That's how you want it to be.
4. Once the vegetables are soft, use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the soup smooth. You may need to work in batches.
5. Return the soup to the pot and allow to reheat a little if it's gotten too cool for your liking. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top each bowl with toasted pepitas. Enjoy!

Just a note: Chipotle chiles are spicy, so if you don't like that much heat you can reduce the chiles down to one. However, if you're like me and you like to sweat while you eat, you can add more. I used three, but I wouldn't recommend any more than that, otherwise it gets a little bitter.

I served this soup with some homemade whole wheat cloverleaf rolls! Rolls are super easy to make. I'll post that recipe within the week. I'm also going to be making some seitan chili and some smoky split pea soup (with more of them there chiles!). Have a great night!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Protein-Packed After-Workout Sunshine Smoothie!

I'm real fond of my after-workout smoothies. Normally, I do a berry one, but I decided to buy some frozen peaches last week and they totally kicked my smoothie making up a notch! It was like sunshine in a glass (which is exactly what I need in the dead of winter)! I thoroughly enjoyed the raspberry-peach flavor combo and I don't know why I didn't do it sooner!

You could also add 1/2 Tb. of coconut butter in here for an extra tasty treat. I love putting coconut butter in my smoothies! I'll also go with the excuse that it helps you absorb the Vitamin A and E in your ingredients. Lol! You could also add some greens but it won't make a pretty color.

Raspberry-Peach Sunshine Smoothie:
1 c. frozen peaches
1/2 c. frozen raspberries
1/2 a frozen banana (unfrozen would work as well)
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c. silken tofu
1 Tb. hemp seeds
1 Tb. chia seeds
1/2 - 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder of choice
1 to 1 1/2 c. water to get it to smoothie consistency

Place the tofu on the bottom and layer the heavier ingredients on top. Blend until completely smooth, then add the protein powder while the blender is running (I do this so I don't get clumps). If you used more fresh fruit than frozen, feel free to add some ice and then blend for about 30 more seconds. Enjoy!

Protein count!
Peaches: 1 g
Raspberries: 1 g
Banana: .5 g
Almond milk: .5 g
Chia seeds: 2.5 g
Hemp seeds: 5.5 g
Tofu: 6 g
Protein powder: 12 g.

The value for the protein powder varies depending on the amount and brand of protein powder you used. I used 3/4 scoop of VegLife African Vanilla soy protein powder. I usually use the rice kind because soy gives me killer migraines, but I hardly have any left and I don't wanna waste it (it only gives me a headache if I use it consecutively for a few days). I recommend the soy kind though, it's pretty tasty. This smoothie recipe also makes way more than what's shown in the picture. I had just drank most of it when I realized that I needed to take a picture (mostly because I'm now out of raspberries and it would be awhile before I could post a post with a pic!).
Look at that pretty pink color!

TOTAL: 29 grams

I kind of subscribe to the idea that only around 30 grams of protein are absorbed at any one sitting. I tried to find some scientific articles on this to determine the validity of this claim, but I couldn't find anything.

However, I did find an article on iron absorption from plant foods (so excuse me while I geek out a minute). An article from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that they found evidence that the oxalic acid found in plants such as spinach and beet greens doesn't inhibit iron absorption. Even though less iron was absorbed when the spinach was eaten, it wasn't statistically significant, and it might be due to spinach's calcium content (kale doesn't contain anywhere near as much calcium as spinach). It also mentioned how beneficial vitamin C is at helping nonheme iron be absorbed (it was described as "powerful"!). Of course, more study needs to be done on this subject. 

Bonsmann S, Walczyk T, Renggli S, Hurrell R. Oxalic acid does not influence nonhaem iron absorption in humans: a comparison of kale and spinach meals. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition [serial online]. March 2008;62(3):336-341.

The healthful-ness of my smoothie helped balance out my supper. It was pretty processed, but I rarely eat processed foods (especially things I consider "freezer foods"). It consisted of Alexia spicy chipotle sweet potato fries and Gardein not-chicken tenders. My HyVee just got them in so I had to try them, especially since everyone in the blog world keeps mentioning them!

The fries and tenders were baked until nice and crispy (super nice and crispy...) and then served with spicy mustard and BBQ sauce, because that's how I roll. I really liked the Gardein tenders, but they're kind of pricey, and only 10 come in the bag. I ate 5 at one sitting (225 calories for all of those). I will probably only buy them when I have a serious nugget craving or a coupon. However, them sweet tater fries are glorious!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quick n' Easy Asian Veggie Noodle Bowl

I'm a rotator of my greens. The past two weeks it was spinach and before that it was kale. I've now moved on to bok choy. It was super green and vibrant-looking when I was getting groceries the other day. Bok choy is in its peak season during the winter months and since I've had a full-on noodle craving for like, a week now, I decided it was meant to be.

Bok choy is a Brassica, so it is related to cabbage, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, etc. Choose it just like any other leafy green. Avoid bunches with wilted, broken, or spotty leaves. It will stay for a few days unwashed in your fridge, and when preparing it, you don't have to cut off all the white stalk, just a little bit (enough to make it easy to clean). Bok choy has a mild and pleasant flavor and it's super awesome with noodles. I needed the emphasis...

It is super low in calories (one shredded cup has only 10) and it's high in Vitamin A, C, and K. It also has 7% of your daily calcium and 12% of your daily folate in one cup. 

With this glorious bok choy I made a noodle soup consisting of ramen noodles, broccoli, edamame, and bean sprouts. It was a very green soup! It was also super fast to make and packed with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. I really wanted some tofu in there, but I didn't have any on hand. I tried edamame for the first time and I really liked it! I am no longer apprehensive about making edamame hummus!

Bowl-o-Brassica goodness.

Asian Veggie Noodle Bowl:
1/2 a package Chili flavor ramen noodles (yes, they're vegan)
1 c. broccoli florets
1/3 c. frozen edamame (without the pod)
1 c. chopped bok choy
1/2 c. mung bean sprouts

Bring 1 cup water to a boil and add the broccoli, edamame, and bok choy. Return to a boil and add the ramen noodles. Boil for three minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in half the chili seasoning packet and top with bean sprouts. Enjoy! Oh, and drink the broth, it's got them vitamins in there!

You could also make this with rice noodles to make it healthier, because they cook in about the same amount of time and have less calories and fat (and crazy ingredients). However, I don't know if you know this, but the chili seasoning packet is AWESOME. I wish I could just buy it by the jarful. Lol. I'll probably make this today with the rice noodles and then steal a packet of seasoning from some of my boyfriend's ramen. Bwahaha.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Moroccan-Stuffed Acorn Squashes with Zucchini Salad

This is another Martha Stewart recipe that I veganized. One day, while I was browsing the recipe section, I found this recipe for Moroccan-Stuffed Acorn Squashes. At the time, I had almost all the ingredients, so I picked up a squash the next time I went to the grocery store so I would have it on hand when I made it. A couple of, um, weeks passed before for I finally got around to making it (thank goodness for long-lasting winter squashes!), but when I finally did I had a lot of fun making it!

I halved the original recipe, but I still wound up having an additional two servings of stuffing leftover. I didn't mind though, I just heated it up as it was with some more of the zucchini salad. Martha's version called for golden raisins (I subbed regular) and hamburger (I used chickpeas). I also seriously upped the spices because the original had like, hardly any in there. Reviewers of the original recipe claimed it was bland, but I like my Moroccan food with flare so I think I fixed that problem! My Mom absolutely loved this dish, and she's requested that it be made again!

I also happened to have some zucchini on hand so I was able to make a Morroccan side dish. The zucchini salad recipe came from "Saveur" magazine. "Saveur" is a very NON-vegan gourmet foodie magazine (in fact, I've only seen them at Whole Foods. My Borders don't even sell them) but I read it because a) I love food, b) many of the articles are actually articles with a recipe section at the end,  c) the food is ethnic authentic, and, d) I love the challenge of veganizing dishes! This recipe happened to be accidently vegan, so I didn't change anything at all! 

Moroccan-Stuffed Acorn Squashes:
1 acorn squash, halved, pulp and seeds removed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
a few shakes cayenne
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 small onion, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/2 Tb. garlic, minced (2 cloves)
1/2 c. bulgur wheat
1 c. water and/or vegetable broth
1/4 c. currants
2 Tb. toasted pine nuts

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray nonstick spray on the cut side of the squash halves and lay them cut-side-down on a baking sheet. Bake under tender, about 45 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a skillet sprayed with some nonstick, saute the onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cayenne, and saute until the spices are fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

3. In the same skillet as the onions, combine the bulgur and water/broth. Cover, then let simmer for 20 minutes on low until soft. Drain off any excess water and let stand, covered, for 5 more minutes, then fluff with a fork.

4. Once, the squashes are done, scrape them out into the the bowl with the onions, making sure to leave enough squash to the skin that you're able to stuff it. To this mixture, add the dried parsley, fluffed bulgur, salt, currants, and nuts. Combine, and then add the stuffing back into the squash halves (you'll have leftover stuffing). Return halves to the oven, and then bake another 12-15 minutes, or until heated through.

When making the salad you cook the zucchini slices in boiling water. They're still pretty crunchy when you make the salad. I decided I like my zucchini a little more soft, so when I went for the leftovers I steamed them for a couple minutes to get them how I like them. That's purely personal preference though, so if you like them crunchy, just follow the directions exactly. If you like them softer, you can skip the whole boiling water step and just steam them for 3-5 minutes.

Zucchini Salad:
3 medium zucchini (about 1 lb.)
1 minced peeled clove garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tbsp. olive oil

1. Slice zucchini into thin rounds. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, add zucchini, and cook until tender but firm, about 1 minute (or do the steaming as I mentioned above). Drain zucchini and rinse under cold water. Pat zucchini dry.

2. Mix together clove garlic, cinnamon, paprika, lemon juice, white vinegar, and olive oil in a bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix in zucchini. Serve at room temperature, though warm with the stuffed squashes is recommended!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cinnamon Puffins

It's been super cold here lately. Yesterday's daytime high was 11 degrees, but rather than complain about the cold I warmed up the kitchen with a nice 350 degree oven.

Aahh. Works every time!

I found a recipe for "Cinnamon Puffins" in one of Mom's cookbooks. It looked super easy to make and super easy to veganize. They look like a muffin, but they have the texture of a coffeecake, and the taste of one of those old-fashioned donuts with the cinnamon-sugar coating. Could a simple muffin be any more awesome?? I was trying to think of a creative name for them, with a mishmash of the words "coffeecake" and "muffin" but all I got was "Cinnamon Muffakes" and "Cinnamon Coffins". Haha. Neither was a winner!

Pictured: Cinnamon Coffins. And please ignore the tablecloth...

Anywho, like the good little health conscious girl I am, I subbed part of the white flour for whole wheat pastry flour. The pastry flour is finer and isn't as coarse as regular whole wheat so it's good for light baked goods. I wouldn't have used refined sugar either, but I'm running low on both my precious agave and maple syrup. The next time I make them I will definitely use an alternative sugar. On another note, the recipe calls for beating the batter, so go ahead and beat it. They really aren't like muffins so you don't have to worry about over-mixing it. Be prepared to make these for family, friends, and boy/girlfriends on a regular basis!

And one last thing... DO NOT FEAR THE NUTMEG!!!!

Really. It makes the muffin! Or com-uffin?

Cinnamon Puffins:
For the muffin:
1 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. non-hydrogenated shortening
1/2 c. almond milk
1 Tb. milled flax seed mixed with 1/4 c. warm water
1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the cinnamony goodness:
1/4 c. vegan butter, softened
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

For the muffins:
1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Mix together the milled flax seed and warm water and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the white flour, wheat flour, baking powder, sea salt, and nutmeg. Stir with a whisk until well-combined.
4. In a large bowl, beat together the sugar and shortening until fluffy. Add the flax egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Then beat in the almond milk.
5. Add the flour mixture to the bowl with the wet ingredients and beat until combined.
6. Spray a 12 count muffin pan with nonstick and filled the cups about 2/3 full.
7. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

For the cinnamony goodness:
1. Combine the softened vegan butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

To finish up the muffins:
1. Take the hot muffins out off the pan and place them on a plate.
2. Cover each one of the muffins with the cinnamon spread. It will get hot and melt all over the place, but that's good because you want to allow the goodness to coat the sides as well.
3. Go ahead and put on some more of the cinnamon spread. You want a lot. That's what makes this amazing.
4. Allow the muffins to cool. Hot muffins are messy, but once they cool off you get the most perfect crispy cinnamon-buttery crunch to the outside. They're glorious!

And no-one knows they're vegan...


This juice was quite tasty! I was surprised because unsweetened cranberries tend to be very tangy (for lack of a better word!). The orange in this drink added the perfect amount of natural sweetness. As someone you used to drink plain, unsweetened cranberry juice by the liter, I think that this is a much better idea. 100x more enjoyable! 

Cranberry-Orange Juice
2 c. fresh cranberries
1 orange, peeled

Run the cranberries and the orange through your juicer. Give a swirl before drinking and enjoy this juice's protective benefits on your um... urinary tract health. Yes.

Coming up: vegetable stew and dumplings (like the chicken kind, only without the chicken)! and I'm starting to get a hankering for some pancakes...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Oven-Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

This is just another quick post. I've been kind of busy (been growing some algae down at the school...), but I've still had plenty of time to cook myself up some nutritious food! Between all these roasted veggies, green smoothies, tofu scrambles, salads, juices, and hot breakfast cereal, the least thing I've been is hungry! Actually, I'm going to do a whole post on a certain hot breakfast cereal I've been eating, because it's truly amazing (and no, it's not another bowl of Cream of Wheat! Lol).

Anywho, I don't usually eat cauliflower, but I rather enjoyed it in this dish. Also, those fancy onions were on special at my HyVee, but feel free to use regular onions (white or yellow). Those cipollini onions really did have their own taste. They're onion-y and are a bitch to get the skin off (and still make you cry), but once cooked that have an unparalleled sweet onion flavor. I'm a fan! Also, I tossed three of them (unpeeled) in a batch of homemade vegetable juice and they added just the right amount of onion flavor without being overpowering.

Also, I just thought I'd let you know that this recipe is based on a Martha Stewart recipe. That lady sure has some good recipes! I have a whole bunch from her magazine that I'd like to veganize.

 Still naked veggies. 

Oven-Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette: 
For the veggies:
1 large head regular cauliflower, cut into small florets
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 lb. (-ish) of Brussels sprouts, halved
1 c. cipollini onions, halved
3 Tb. olive oil
Kosher salt black pepper

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 c. pomegranate juice (make sure it's real squashed pomegranate and not a watered down blend)
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 c. pomegranate seeds

1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
2. Toss together the prepared vegetable with the olive oil in a large bowl, and then season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Spread the veggies evenly on a large baking sheet (you might need two) and roast until golden, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes to an hour.
3. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette by placing the pomegranate juice in a bowl. Pour the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.
4. Just before serving, drizzle the vinaigrette over the warm veggies and toss with pomegranate seeds. Then enjoy!

This recipe will make you plenty of veggies. I hope you like leftovers!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Super Easy Italian Salad

Just take a look at this tasty salad:

Please excuse all the nooch. Lol. I love that stuff!

My boyfriend's Mom made this salad for us on Christmas Eve when I was having dinner at her house. It's super easy to make. My salad still isn't as good as hers (you know how that is... it's always better when someone else cooks!), but nevertheless, I've ate it for lunch the past two days. The olives add a nice oily, salty touch that makes up for any need of dressing. The only thing I do to finish off this salad is sprinkle it with nooch and lemon juice. I made this salad once with plain romaine and once with an "American blend" that had romaine, iceberg lettuce, carrots, and purple cabbage. It tastes MUCH better with the American blend! Also, I used nooch, but you can use vegan Parmesan (or even nothing) to your tastes.

Also, as a note, some people are dead set against eating raw mushrooms, so feel free to leave them out. I'm completely aware that the common button mushroom contains small amounts of hydrazines, but that's why I only eat them very rarely and why I top them with lemon juice. DO NOT eat any other species of mushroom raw, and especially not wild ones. As I was looking up hydrazines, I read a story where a bunch of people in California got sick eating raw morels (which grow around here). I was dumbfounded. Like, for serious? Even us Missouri folks fry them bitches up, and we all know what happens when we eat too many of the cooked variety... I couldn't imagine eating them raw! That's just no bueno! I also realize that many raw food recipes utilize shiitakes and portabellos, but they're usually dehydrated long enough at a temperature high enough to destroy those compounds.

So, anywho, what I'm saying here is eat raw mushrooms at your own risk. Do your own research and decide for yourself!

And now, here's this tasty salad. This recipe makes one huge bowl o' salad, perfect for lunch. I like to serve it with a nice slice of crusty bread buttered with some Smart Balance Light. Yum.

Easy Italian Salad:
1/2 bag "American blend" salad mix
1/3 c. canned artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and chopped (not the marinated kind)
10 black olives, sliced (I like olives, but they sort of "top out" in terms of enjoyment if I eat too many).
1 tomato, chopped
1/8 of a red onion, super thinly sliced
1-2 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 Tb. lemon juice (estimate, just the amount in a slice or two)
Nooch or vegan Parmesan to taste

In a large salad bowl, toss together everything except the nooch/Parm, then sprinkle it to taste.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My First Green Smoothie!

I just got a short post today, folks, but it was so exciting I just had to share it!

I tried my first green smoothie today!!

Only... it's not green because I disguised it with blackberries... hehe.

I had put off trying a green smoothie for a long time, just because I didn't think my blender could handle mixing up the greens fine enough for it to be palatable. Apparently, my blender has a "high" and a "low" setting and when you put it on high it mixes it up just fine. I've had this blender for a year and I just noticed that... It worked good...

I used this smoothie as an after-workout protein/nutrient blast. It was SUPER tasty. You couldn't taste the spinach at all! I was really surprised. Of course, I think that blackberries did a good job of hiding it. I finished up the entire rest of the bunch of spinach in this manner and I plan on getting some more spinach the next time I get groceries!

After-Workout Blackberry "Green" Smoothie:
1-2 c. spinach, ends trimmed, washed
1 frozen banana, sliced
1/2 (6 oz.) carton vanilla soyogurt
1/2 c. unsweetened almond milk (trying to up my calcium)
3/4 c. frozen blackberries
1 Tb. hemp seeds
1/2 Tb. chia seeds
A few ice cubes
1/2-1 1/2 c. water or almond milk for consistency.
1/2-1 scoop of protein powder of choice (plain or vanilla)

Load the blender with the spinach on the bottom and the heavier ingredients on top, but not the ice or protein powder. Blend on high until all the ingredients are blended. Add the protein powder (I usually do this as it's running to get it to mix well). Stop it, then add the ice and blend well. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Spaghetti Squash How-To

I love winter squashes. They, along with sweet potatoes and grapefruits, are one of the main reasons I look forward to winter produce. I've made spaghetti squash before, but I cooked it in a different manner. In fact, the last time I tried baking it, my old glass pan completely overheated and shattered in my oven. I decided the glass-garnished squash would do better in the trash and I hadn't bothered ever cooking another one.

 Yep. It looks about like that.

Until now.

I found an old recipe in Vegetarian Times for Spaghetti Squash with Orange Gremolata. It was a microwave recipe and more of a side dish. I wound up baking the squash in the oven (because that's just what feels right... also, my microwave takes four minutes to heat up a bowl of room temperature soup. Cooking a squash in there was just crazy talk!).

I tried using the gremolata as a marinade for some tofu to make this recipe more of a main dish, and I think it would work if tinkered with it. There just wasn't enough umph in there to make the tofu really stand out. However, I've been wanting some orange marmalade-marinated tofu for like six months now, so I'm sure I'll get to play with that idea again.

Here's some nutritional info on spaghetti squashes for those that are curious:
1 cup (cooked - baked or boiled) has 42 calories, 0 grams fat, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, and 1 gram of protein.

It is a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Potassium and Manganese. I'm not sure why I always capitalize my chemical elements and such...

How to pick out a squash:
1. It should be heavy for it's size.
2. It should be nice and orange. If it's green it's still unripe.
3. The bigger the squash the sweeter it will taste. I like to get a small one and use it in savory recipes.
4. You can store it uncut at room temperature for about a month.

Now preparing the squash is easy.
1. I wash the squash. You never know what's touched that thing
2. Cut the ends of the squash and then cut it in half lengthwise.
3. Use a large spoon to get out the stringy pulp and seeds. The seeds are edible.
4. Spray the cut sides with nonstick spray or rub with a little olive oil and bake cut-side-down at 400F for about an hour to an hour and a half. The baking time will depend on how large your squash is.
5. Once the squash is done, allow it to cool until your able to touch it, then use a fork to separate the halves into strands.

This is how I enjoyed my squash:

The squash is sea salted and tossed with a couple of tablespoons of roasted, chopped pistachios and served alongside some buttery steamed broccoli and some orange-y balsamic baked tofu (which I promise is not burnt! It's just the balsamic, lol). It was a very healthy and tasty meal!

I even ate the squash as a snack between meals. Can't beat 42 cals a serving! I think the next time I make this squash I'm actually going to serve it with a chunky tomato sauce like spaghetti. That would really be awesome. In fact, as I was eating this I found myself wishing it was covered with a sauce, lol. I just didn't have any!

The next squash I'm going to be cooking up is an acorn squash and that recipe will be Morroccan-Stuffed Acorn Squash. Tasty, tasty!