Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Of Gardens and Magic Patties...

Garden Update!

I know I mentioned to you all that I was growing my first ever garden, so today, exactly one week from my first planting, I have seedlings! I'm actually really surprised that they're growing so fast because it's been cloudy and cold. Literally almost no sun has been seen since I planted them!


On the left I have my basil, kale, tomato, and bell pepper seedlings, and on the right I have my spinach, zucchini, and marigold ones. Those zucchinis are almost five inches tall!

I'm going to be planting some of them very soon. Kale, for example, likes a good frost, and we have frost possibilities through April. I warn you though, I know nothing about gardening! I'm just starting to learn, but I'm being shown the ropes so hopefully I can have a decent harvest. This garden is absolutely 100% organic and my seeds are a mix of non-GMO, organic, and heirloom. I anticipate weeding it every single morning before I go to physics (summer class). Seriously though, when I look at these seedlings, I can't help but think to myself in a creepy voice, "I'm gonna EAT yooouuuu...".

But anyway, now for the foodz. I guess you could say I'm on a veggie burger kick. When I discover a new technique I just gotta keep reusing in every form possible. Hence, my magic red lentil burgers! These all stay together thanks to the magic ingredient: vital wheat gluten.

These lentil patties have a nice Indian twist to them, and they are perfect when wrapped up with veggies and my spicy yogurt sauce. I had two and I'm still full (it's been a couple hours, lol)! This recipe makes eight patties so you can toss the extras in your lunchbox.

Magic Red Lentil Wraps:
For the lentil patties:
2 cups water
3/4 c. red/orange lentils
1 c. finely chopped onions
2 c. finely chopped mixed white button and baby bella (crimini) mushrooms
1 Tb. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. vegan bread crumbs
3 Tb. vital wheat gluten
1/2 Tb. nutritional yeast ("nooch")

For the yogurt sauce:
1 (6 oz.) container plain, unsweetened vegan yogurt
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt

Green leaf lettuce
Tomatoes
Purple onion, thinly sliced
Cucumbers, thinly sliced
Tortilla shells

To make the patties:
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils and water. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 25 minutes or until done (done = mushy!).
2. Meanwhile, saute the onion, mushrooms, and garlic in a skillet with some nonstick for about 5-8 minutes or until nice and golden. Add the salt and garam masala and saute until fragrant, about one minute. Remove from heat and add to a medium bowl.
3. Once the lentils are done, drain them (if necessary), and add them to the sauteed onion mixture. Add the bread crumbs, wheat gluten, and nooch and mix until thoroughly combined.
4. In a medium skillet sprayed with nonstick, cook the patties over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Flip and cook another five minutes or until heated through and crisp on the outside. This recipe makes eight patties so I had to do two batches.

To make the yogurt sauce:
1. If there is any water on top of the yogurt, drain it off, then give it a good stir. Add in the parsley, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir everything up until nice and mixed.

Yes. I do enjoy my food slightly burnt. I got no shame.

To assemble:
Warm tortillas, then layer on lettuce, cucumber slices, tomato slices, onion slices, a split lentil patty, and the yogurt sauce. Roll and go!

Hehe... I'm a little short on produce... I need to do something about that! Anyway, for one patty with about one tablespoon of yogurt sauce (not including the tortilla or lettuce), you're going to get: 130 calories, slightly less than one gram of fat, and 9.5 grams of protein. Add some veggies, some low-carb/high protein tortillas (I recommend La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Tortillas), and you got one awesomeingly satisfying meal. And yes. I did make that word up. Have a great afternoon!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Killer Blueberry-Macadamia Nut Muffins

OMG. I'm on a serious muffin kick right now. I found a hoard of muffin recipes and I just had to kick out the first batch. I LOVE blueberries and macadamia nuts and when you put on a sweet, little crumbly topping, I'm in muffin heaven.

Here are a few things I've noticed about baking vegan muffins. If you want to make goods ones, you gotta keep these things in mind:

1. Eggs add moisture. Instead of using flax seed or powdered egg replacer, I would recommend using 1/4 c. vegan yogurt or 1/4 c. pureed fruit. This adds both moisture and binding powers.

2. If you do use vegan yogurt to replace eggs, add 1/4 tsp. baking soda to the recipe if it doesn't call for any. Baking soda and yogurt work together in some sort of food science way to help the muffins rise. If the recipe already calls for baking soda, you don't need to add any additional. The recipe amount will do.

3. With vegan baking, it is essential that you get the muffins in the oven as fast as you put them in the pan. They will flatten out as the batter sits, and nobody likes sad, pancake muffins.

And uhh... I think that's it. Any nonvegan muffin can be veganized, it just takes a good recipe! This was veganized from an Eating Well magazine recipe.

This muffin recipe has not only been veganized, but lowered in calories and fat without any sacrifice in flavor. These got the boyfriend seal-of-approval as well, and as he munched them down he was like, "I freakin' love your muffins" and I was like, "yeah, my muffins brings all the boys to the yard...". But I digress... In this recipe I used all-purpose unbleached flour only because I was out of my whole wheat pastry flour. Feel free to use some WWPF if you'd like. I would normally.

Killer Blueberry-Macadamia Nut Muffins:
1 3/4 c. + 2 Tb. unbleached, all-purposed flour
1/2 c. + 2 Tb. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. unsweetened, shredded coconut, pulsed in a coffee grinder until fine (or at least chopped up a little)
5 Tb. chopped macadamia nuts, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tb. melted coconut oil
1 1/2 Tb. melted Earth Balance
1/4 c. plain or vanilla soyogurt
3/4 c. almond milk + 1/2 Tb. lemon juice
2 inch piece of vanilla bean, split and seeds removed (OR 1 tsp. vanilla extract)
1 1/3 c. frozen or fresh blueberries (if they are frozen, don't thaw them before adding them to the batter)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick, or lightly oil, or use papers.
2. Combine the almond milk and the lemon juice in a medium bowl, set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine the 2 Tb. flour, 2 Tb. brown sugar, coconut, and 2 Tb. macadamia nuts. Drizzle with 1 Tb. of melted coconut oil, then mix until everything is nice and crumbly. Set aside.
4. In a large bowl, combine the 1 3/4 c. flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix with a whisk until nice and combined. Set aside.
5. In the medium bowl with the almond milk, add the brown sugar, soyogurt, melted Earth Balance, the rest of the melted coconut oil, and the vanilla bean/extract. Stir with a whisk until everything is completely combined.
6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined (about 50 strokes). Stir in the blueberries and the rest of the chopped macadamia nuts, until just combined. THE BATTER WILL BE THICK.
7. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins and evenly divide the crumbly topping between all the muffins. Gently press it into the surface of the muffin so it sticks.
8. Bake at 400F for about 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

THEN, enjoy with a big ol' glass of almond milk! This recipe makes 16 regular-sized or 12 large muffins. For 16 regular-sized muffins, each one has 137 calories, 5.3 grams of fat, and 2 grams of protein.

The next ones I want to make are like a raspberry-streusel muffin. So beware...

And finally, I'm going to being eating everything out of my pantry, so that I can have an epic Whole Foods bulk bin adventure in April (ahhh.... to have goals...). Prepare for a random assortment of recipes: lentils here, veggie burgers there, pasta somewhere... Just no soup. I'm completely souped out. Besides, that's a winter food and it's spring now! But yeah, as I was saying, I'm taking my Mom there so we both can stock up, she's never been. Also, I want to show her the glory that is the Whole Foods hot bar. Oooh, yeah. They also put in a Trader Joe's down the street since the last time I went there, so I might even have my first-ever Trader Joe's adventure. We'll see... April is gonna be a crazy month! Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Magic White Bean Burgers!

I can't remember the last time I ate a real hamburger.

But you know what? That's okay. Up my sleeves are some tasty bean burger recipes that are way more flavorful and healthy for me than any cow patty. Case in point, my magic white bean burgers!

Why are they magic, you ask? Let's take a look:

The spicy sweet potato fries made it into the belly before the burger..

They're magic because they absolutely, 100%, stick together when you cook them, no freezing or chilling required (cue the choir)!

That's right, I've found the secret to bean burgers is vital wheat gluten! Adding just a couple of tablespoons not only keeps them from falling apart, but adds a nice bump of protein as well! I wasn't feeling the black beans tonight, so I went with my other good ol' pantry staple, Great Northerns. This is the un-Italian version of my Tuscan Bean Burgers, but I haven't posted that recipe just yet (in due time!). Actually, I have quite a few bean burger recipes that I've neglected to put up (okay, only two and a revised black bean one...). I need to get on that. The world needs more bean burgers!

Magic White Bean Burgers:
1 can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. minced onion
1/3 c. plain bread crumbs (check to make sure they're vegan, some aren't)
2 Tb. vital wheat gluten
1 tsp. nutritional yeast
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper

1. Mash beans in a bowl with a fork.
2. Add the onion, bread crumbs, wheat gluten, nooch, parsley, salt, and pepper. Mash and mix thoroughly until everything is completely combined.
3. Shape the burgers into four patties and cook for 10-15 minutes over medium-high heat in a skillet sprayed with some nonstick (eff you, rules on sentence structure!!). Flip the patties once during cooking to brown them on both sides. I also cover my pan to help the centers cook.
4. Serve on toasted whole wheat buns with all the fixins'.

This time around I decided to top my burger with some of my favorite BBQ sauce. It's called Brewster's BBQ and it's made locally. It also doesn't contain any HFCS (almost every single commercial brand does). It's got that perfect balance of sweet and spicy and goes well with the tame flavor of this burger. Unfortunately, unless you're up here in northern Missouri, you won't find any. I googled "Brewster" and all I got was pics of Soleil Moon Frye...

Not in my BBQ sauce.

I think I just dated myself... Anywho. The nutritional stats of this burger (patty only, doesn't include the bun): 137 calories, 0.6 grams of fat, 6.1 grams of fiber, 9.7 grams of protein, and 10.8% of your daily Iron. It's also got a tad bit of Vitamin C and Calcium, but not a whole lot. I am a calorie counter, so I'll probably keep posting the nutritional stats. I mean, I calculate them for everything I make, so why not?

So yeah. School will be out in a month or so, so I hope to have plenty of more regular posts. I've made some awesome foods, I just need to remake them and take pictures this time around. I baked up some AWESOME blueberry corn muffins a la VWAV, as well as some other veganized muffins, kickass pancakes, and tasty tofu dishes. I've also got a chocolate duck birthday cake for a three-year-old to make, as well as some Easter-themed food. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Quick Post: Tropical Green Smoothie

Hello, everyone out there! This is just going to be a quick post because I have mondo amounts of things to do today. I just wanted to let you all know that I started leaving my green smoothies green. I also upped the spinach to one full packed cup. The result?

Pure awesome.

I wish I had started drinking green smoothies earlier because I truly love them! Even my three-year old niece enjoys her share of them (read: every time I make one I have to share!).

In yo' face!

This particular smoothie is tropical flavored... it probably has to do with the fact that it's in the 70s (finally!) and all the windows are open that made me decide I wanted to try this. Also. I was out of peaches. 

I've added cinnamon to it, because I've been adding cinnamon to everything lately. I hear it's good for your blood sugar so I've started adding more to my food. I also like to bulk it up with fruit loaded in Vitamin C so that I get the most out of my spinach. This smoothie may sound kind of weird, but I promise it's tasty! 

Also, it may also seem a little heavy on the calories, but I use this as one of my super power after-workout smoothies. Besides, it's good for you. Drink up! 

Tropical Green Smoothie:
1 c. baby spinach, packed
1/2 a banana, frozen 
1/3 c. frozen unsweetened mango chunks
1/3 c. frozen unsweetened pineapple chunks
1 Tb. shelled hemp seeds
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk (CALCIUM!!)
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
A capful of pure vanilla extract (about 1/8 tsp)
A capful of coconut extract (about 1/8 tsp)
An additional 1/2 water to thin it out, if necessary
Ice, if desired (but that's why I keep muh fruit frozen)

1. In a blender, put the spinach on the bottom, then layer everything else on top of it. 
2. Blend until completely smooth, with no chunks of spinach or fruit remaining. 
3. Enjoy, because you're filling your body with goodness!

 
Mmm. Green and frosty.

In know some of you are curious, so when made with my protein powder this smoothie has 378 calories with 9.3 grams of fat (with 0.4 of it saturated from somewhere). It also contains:
28.3 grams of protein, 
8.8 grams of fiber,
100.7% of your daily Vitamin A,
98.9% of your daily Vitamin C,
36.5% of your daily Calcium,
21% of your daily Iron

Note: All my smoothies are like mini-meals so I tend to load them up. I also aim to make them as nutritionally sound as possible. My protein powder doesn't contain any added vitamins or minerals, so these stats represent whole food goodness!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japchae!

So, Korean food is probably one of my favorite ethnic types of food (along with all my other favorite types of ethnic food, that is). I love how it's spicy, full of vegetables, and not afraid of the tofu. I think I've even mentioned on this blog before that I'm having a secret affair with kimchi (shh! the hot sauce doesn't know!).

I love the practice of Korean food. They'll have a main dish, then usually some steamed short-grain rice, and then numerous banchan (side dishes) that accompany the meal. Banchan include such foods as pickled vegetables, savory pancakes, boiled dumplings, grilled mushrooms, etc. Kimchi is a condiment that is served with every meal. Luckily, Walmart has a spicy jarred kimchi (that's actually fermented and not pickled) in the produce section that is 100% whole foods ingredients and completely fish/shellfish free. 

Know what else is awesome about kimchi? It tingles your tongue.

Common ingredients in Korean recipes include sesame oil, sesame seeds, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chili flakes, and gochujang. Gochujang is a fermented red chili paste that I can't find around here so I usually sub out for sriracha. Of course, I'm pretty much convinced that I would love the flavor of the gochujang since I seem to have a penchant for all that is fermented and/or spicy.

As for this recipe, it's super easy to make, you probably have almost all the ingredients on hand, and it's quick. Also, my boyfriend liked it and that's always a bonus (he hadn't ate spinach in years!). This recipe is traditionally made using dangmyeon, which is a lot like those mung bean cellophane noodles (or glass noodles). I opted for thin maifun noodles instead which are made of rice flour. I don't really care for the texture of cellophane noodles, but you can use what ever kind you like best. I used fresh shiitake mushrooms, but you can use rehydrated mushrooms if you have those on hand.

This recipe has been adapted and veganized from Maangchi.

Japchae:
2 servings rice noodles
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
6-7 green onions, chopped, the white and (a couple inches of the) green parts
1 c. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 c. crimini mushrooms, sliced
8 oz. baked Asian tofu, store-bought or leftover homemade, cut into cubes
3 cups baby spinach, packed
3 Tb. tamari, divided
1 Tb. minced garlic, divided
1 Tb. raw sugar
1/2 Tb. sesame oil (NOT toasted)
Toasted sesame seeds
Kimchi

You'll also need a large bowl.

1. Boil a pot of water. Once the water is boiling, add the spinach, and allow it to cook for one minute. Remove it from the pot, rinse it in cold water a few times, squeeze it gently to get out any excess water, then add it to the large bowl. You can use this water for the noodles or you can boil yourself some new. Up to you.

2. Spray a large skillet with nonstick. Over medium-high heat, cook the carrot strips for 30 seconds. Add them to the bowl and respray the skillet with some nonstick.

3. Saute the yellow onion untill softened, about 3-5 minutes, then add it to the bowl and respray the skillet with nonstick.

4. Add the green onions and saute them for 1 minute, then add them to the bowl. You should start boiling the noodles now, since they take three minutes. Respray the skillet with some nonstick.

5. Add the sliced mushrooms and tofu and saute them until they're softened. Add 1 Tb. soy sauce, the sugar, and the garlic. Cook until nice and fragrant, another minute or so.

6. Drain the noodles and add them to the bowl. Add the tofu-mushroom mixture to the bowl as well, then add the remaining soy sauce and the sesame oil. Toss everything together until completely mixed.

 Behold! My lap of noodles.

Serve with kimchi, sriracha, and a hefty dose of toasted sesame seeds!

Oh, and I was totally going to geek out for a minute and put up a graphic of a fermentation pathway, but I got distracted by a crazy ass website.
 
Now, I think I'm going to wind down for the night by making one of Katie's Healthy Cake Batter Milkshakes...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Banana Nut Bread Oatmeal

Oatmeal... how do I love thee!

I'm sure that you will find my blog is not short on the oatmeal recipes. I love having a steaming bowl of delicious oats for breakfast. They're so filling and good for you, as well as quick to make and cheaper than buying boxed cereal, that I just never get tired of them. Since us vegans seem to lurve our oatmeal, I'm sure that there's isn't a shortage of oatmeal combo recipes in the vegan blogosphere, but sometimes it's a good idea to see a few new combinations to get you out of your oatmeal rut (if there is such a thing!).

Also, I'm trying really hard to quit refined sugar and junk food (day two... this is hard!), so sometimes I put stevia extract in my oatmeal. This particular recipe doesn't really need any sweetener, but feel free to add some if you would like. Brown sugar or a touch of pure maple syrup would be good. I was also tempted to open up a can of coconut milk so I could have some cream on my oatmeal, but I decided to let that go for now. If you haven't ever put coconut cream (from the separated cream in a can of full-fat, unsweetened coconut milk) on your oatmeal, you should try it. It's glorious! I just need to have something to do with the rest of the milk before I open one.

Note: I don't use the whole cup of almond milk because it tends to get a little foamier in the microwave and I don't have a big enough bowl to keep it from going all over the place. Also, my microwave is older than I am (literally) and yours could probably cook this oatmeal in half the time, so adjust the cooking time to your liking.  

Banana Nut Bread Oatmeal:
1/2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 c. unsweetened almond milk
1/4 c. water
1 Tb. sultanas (raisins)
3 small dates (mine are like baby dates, so you can probably use one big one), chopped
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/2 a banana, sliced
1/8 c. walnuts, chopped and toasted
1 Tb. coconut cream, optional

In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the oats, almond milk, water, raisins, dates, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir to combine. Then microwave 4 minutes or until the oats are done. It thickens after cooling, so if it seems a tad liquidy, it should be alright. Top the cooked oatmeal with the sliced banana, walnuts, and coconut cream. Enjoy!

This oatmeal has 415 calories, but I tell you what, I am insanely full! This is health food at it's finest! Next time I think I'll reduce the oatmeal to 1/3 cup, cause when you got all that stuff on it, it fills you up fast!

Also, I'M FINALLY ON SPRING BREAK!! Of course, I'll be working double-time, but that still leaves me with more time to cook (and sleep in, and be with my boyfriend, and watch Netflix...). Stay tuned. Oh, and I have a question for you guys...

How do you all like to enjoy your morning (or dinner!) oatmeal?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Vegan Compassion Extends to ALL Life

I'm sure by now that all of you have heard about the disaster in Japan. After dealing with an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami that traveled more than three miles inland, the Japanese people are now dealing with the threat of a nuclear meltdown and a volcanic eruption.

These people are going without food, water, electricity, or shelter. Mobile phone service is gone and most landline service has also been disconnected. Many are left outside where the temperatures have been freezing at night and an estimated 10,000 people are dead.

While people struggle to cope with this disaster, they are mourning the loss of their friends and family and for a return to normalcy that may take many years to return to.


As vegans, our compassion for others should extend beyond animals and to our fellow man. ALL life is worthwhile, and it is our duty to extend a helping hand. I encourage you to donate what you can to help with the relief efforts in Japan.


Please make sure you take the time to research the organization you are donating to, and make sure that they are a reputable agency. The above link will take you to a list of reliable organizations who have already began the relief effort in Japan.

This won't go away tomorrow, and this won't go away a month from now. Japan needs our help as they begin the long process of renewal and recovery. Don't forget Japan.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Plant Protein Review!

As you all know from my various posts about workout smoothies, I'm quite into the protein thing. Since I come from a smallish town that doesn't really carry a variety of vegan protein powders, I usually buy them off of Amazon. My old standby powder was running out and I was in the mood to try something new, but I'm kind of limited. I don't mind eating soy products, but I tend to avoid them because they give me killer migraines. Therefore, it's important that my protein powder is both vegan AND soy-free.

One day I stumbled across a new kind:


Lifetime Life's Basics Plant Protein made with Pea, Hemp, Rice, and Chia Seed, Vanilla Flavor. It sounds kind of odd, what with the pea protein and all, but I'm telling y'all, this stuff is AWESOME. I usually buy rice protein but this is soooo much better than plain rice protein. It's not bitter at all. It's also made with hemp too, but it's not too hemp-y. I love it! The vanilla flavor is pretty obvious too, which I like a lot. This brand will be the brand of protein I buy from now on! In fact, I'm going to get the Chocolate kind, like, next week!

The only downside of this is that the scoop is huge. I use a smaller scoop from an older powder and then adjust the protein/calories accordingly. It's really not that much of a difference, but it keeps me from running out so fast, and it's still plenty high in protein, even with the smaller scoop.

Another downside: it's a little sweet. I'm going to get the unsweetened vanilla next time, and then just add sweetener to my tastes (which means bananas, lol).

For the regular vanilla, one heaping scoop has 129 calories, 1 gram fat, and 22 grams protein. The only ingredients are: pea protein isolate, hemp protein powder, rice protein concentrate, natural vanilla flavor, fructose, xylitol, stevia, and salt. It has 2.67 grams of sugar per serving. It does not contain any yeast, soy, corn, wheat, milk, soy, gluten, egg, whey, or any artificial ingredients or preservatives. It is also non-GMO. The label says "no hydrolysis used" but that doesn't really mean anything, lol.

Oh, and it doesn't mix very well without a blender or a shaker cup. I tried it with just a spoon and it was no bueno... but I drank it anyway, because I liked it...

If you're looking for a vegan, soy-free protein powder, this is it!

A few ideas to get you started:
Protein-Packed After-Workout Sunshine Smoothie
A Not-Green Green Smoothie
Blackberry Lemon Power Smoothie

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Quick Black Bean Soup

Okay, so, originally I was going to make this soup with fried plantains and avocado cream, but things happened:

1. Turns out plantains are only alright. I need to practice cooking them a little more before I post about them.


Eff you, plantain.
 
2. I've been eating too much soy so the migraines came back. This means no soyogurt for my avocado cream.

Also, I really wanted to make this soup with dried black beans so it's nice and brothy, but all I had were canned ones. Thus, a speedier version of what I originally planned on making was born! I also cheated a little, using one can of seasoned black beans with one can of regular black beans. This will probably influence how your final soup comes out (if you don't use the seasoned kind), so you may need to add some more spice.

I was also craving potatoes like a madwoman (why...?) so I roasted a bunch of baby Yukons up and served them on the side. Talk about an awesome match! Filling too!

I mean, I am disappointed that I couldn't make my recipe fancy like I originally wanted too, but I'll definitely be making this later. And this soup was good as well, so I'm not complaining!

Quick Black Bean Soup:
1 (15 oz.) can seasoned black beans (labels say they're seasoned), drained a little
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 small red bell pepper, finely diced
1 small green pepper, finely diced
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 Tb. minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
1 Tb. dried cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 c. vegetable broth
Avocado, cubed

1. In a soup pot sprayed with some nonstick over medium-high heat, saute the chopped bell peppers and onions until softened, about five minutes.
2. Add the garlic, cumin, and oregano and saute until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the seasoned beans, regular beans, cilantro, and vegetable broth and bring the pot to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer about 30 minutes to meld all the ingredients together.
4. Before serving, mash some of the beans up with a fork to help thicken the soup a little, then serve with avocado cubes!

Obviously, the focus is on the potatoes here.

To make my roasted potatoes, I preheated an oven to 425F. I washed about 2 lbs. of baby Yukon potatoes (I just use them cause they're my favorite...), then cut them into smaller chunks. In a bowl, I tossed together the chunks with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder (I lurve garlic), until everything was all nice and coated. I then baked them for about 45 minutes, or until the potatoes were completely cooked and golden brown and crunchy on the edges. It was the perfect way to satisfy my potato craving!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award and a Side of Smoky Greens!

Whoo-hoo! I've just been awarded the Stylish Blogger Award by Vegan Fueled Athletic Mom! I've always been secretly jealous of them award winners, and now I have one of my own!  

The rules for this award are:

1. Make a post & link back to the person who awarded you this award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Award a few recently discovered great bloggers.

4. Contact these bloggers and tell them they’ve won!


Here are my random 7 things:
1. My favorite snack right now is sourdough Wasa crackers with all-natural fig preserves and Tofutti cream cheese. They're ridiculously awesome and they have a familiar taste that I can't quite put my finger on...
2. I want to live in an underground house. It's been a dream of mine since I was like, seven.
3. I just bought an Excalibur dehydrator and I plan on doing some serious uncooking here soon!
4. I'm obsessed with cult movies and bad horror films. I'm getting Netflix here in a week or two so that I can finally watch The Day of the Triffids, which is like my two favorite things rolled in to one: cult "horror" and plants. Score.
5. I have ambitious plans. Some include going to go to the Amazonian rainforest on an eco-tour as well as on a hiking glacier tour in New Zealand. Life's short and there's a lot in this world I want to see.
6. I listen to metal, but I've got a serious soft spot for reggae, old reggae.
7. I haven't ever left the Midwest (though not by choice). I went to Iowa once, Illinois once, Arkansas once (just barely crawled into), and Kansas a handful of times. I GOTTA GET OUT MORE!

And here's my bloggers (I tried to do ten, but a lot of the ones are read already have hundreds of readers):
1. The Teenie Foodie
2. Vegan Sunshine
3. JL Goes Vegan: Food and Fitness with a Side of Kale
4. The Vegan Stoner

Now check those guys out!

Anywho, now greens... I love greens! I love how each of the different varieties have differences in taste and texture. I love how they add a punch of color to soups and dinner plates, and even more importantly, I love the nutritional punch they add to my diet!

Here's a little bit of a run down on some American greens that are pretty common in grocery stores, mustards, collards, turnip greens, beet greens, kale, and spinach. All these greens are low in fat, low in calories, high in fiber, have a small amount of protein (between 2-5 grams a cup, depending on the green), and are also a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

Surprisingly though, beet greens are high in sodium, 14% of your RDA in one cup. If you follow a balanced diet and don't eat much processed food or add much salt to food, this doesn't matter much, but if you must watch your salt intake you should probably adjust the amount of beet greens you eat. Spinach contains about 5% of your RDA of sodium and should be taken into consideration as well.

Are you ready to eat some greens now?? Simmering them lightly in broth adds lots of flavor and cooking them at least 30 minutes gets out any bitterness. The only greens I quick-cook are kale and spinach. Everything else gets simmered!

Smoky Garlic Mixed Greens:
3 lbs. of mixed greens (about 3 bunches)
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 Tb. minced garlic (about 5 cloves)
1 tsp. liquid smoke
about 1 cup of vegetable broth

1. Wash your greens throughly, then chop. Turnip greens usually have sand in them, and sometimes little bugs like to hide in the folds.
2. In a large pot, simmer the onions and garlic in a little bit of vegetable broth until soft.
3. Add the greens, the liquid smoke, and about another cup of broth.
4. Cover and simmer on medium-low for about 45-60 minutes, check occasionally to make sure that there is still broth on the bottom of the pan. Stir occasionally. If the pan starts to go dry, add a little more broth and continue to simmer them lightly until they reach at least the 45 minute mark.
5. Serve with lots and lots of Cholula hot sauce (my favorite brand)!

This is officially my go-to greens recipe from now on! I love it!