Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Vegan Bolognese

We haven't had much of a winter on the East Coast, but it's been chilly enough that hot meals have been a preference of mine for many an evening.  I don't eat a lot of pasta, but after a delicious zucchini pasta dish I had recently, I developed a craving.  I was trying to decide how to make a hearty sauce so that I could enjoy my pasta but not consume too many calories.  Here is what I came up with ~ a vegan bolognese.  It was a perfect solution and I froze the extra sauce!

You will need:

1.5 small yellow onion, diced
1 c wild mushrooms, chopped 
1 package shiitake, stems removed, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Handful of flat leaf parsley
1 TBSP vegan butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1 box of pasta of your choosing: spaghetti, farfalle, penne, quinoa, brown rice or regular...anything will do!
1 jar of your favorite sauce (I love Rao's)

In a small sautee pan, heat the olive oil, add a touch of salt, and cook the onion until it starts to brown and become a bit translucent.

At the same time, bring a medium pot of water to boil.

Next add the mushrooms to the onions, and continue to cook until well combined and tender, adding the butter as it all cooks together.

Cook your pasta to your liking.  I prefer al dente.  Drain the water, but do not rinse.  Sauce sticks better when some of the wet starch lingers on the noodles.

Add the noodles back to the pot, with the mushroom mixture, and the jar of sauce, and heat on a low temperature until everything is warm again.

Plate, top with fresh parsley, and serve!





Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cauliflower Au "Gratin"

The meteorologists were right - it's snowing in NY. And might I add - finally! I am not a fan of the cold, but I love the look of a fresh, snowy landscape and it's NY after all - it should snow!!

It is rare that I take a day to do nothing. It's not really nothing, but it means stay in pj's, make some good coffee, read a book, catch up on tv.

Since I'm home, and don't want to spend the day snacking when I get bored, I figured I'd see what I have to cook up.  With 2 small heads of cauliflower, some vegan cheese, fresh parsley and a lemon I decided to make a vegan cauliflower au gratin.

I washed and chopped 2 small heads of cauliflower, and topped them with a small handful of fresh, chopped parsley.  I then sprayed it generously with baking spray (olive oil would be better) and the juice of one big lemon.  

I put all of that in to roast at 450 degrees.  Once it started to crisp, I removed it, sprayed more baking spray (again, olive oil would add more flavor but I was trying to avoid the calories today) and sprinkled nutritional yeast over the top (maybe 2 TBSP) for a pop of B12, and then sprinkled a half cup of Daiya shredded cheddar.  I kept it going until the cauliflower was tender and the cheese was browning.  So healthy and delicious and a nice twist!  Next time I may steam and purée the cauliflower and then bake it with the lemon, parsley, nutritional yeast, olive oil and cheese...yummy and gooey...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Vegan Street Fare


I just got back from vacation in Puerto Rico.  It was glorious! Clear blue skies (minus a few scattered mometns of rain) and temperatures in the 80's every day surrounded by four generations of family, for which I am grateful.

The food however, was not one of the items highest on my list for gratitude.  It was fine, passable, but my favorite meals came from, of all places, a food truck!  

The truck was called El Kono and they served fresh Puerto Rican street food - in plantain cones! Let me tell you...this was some tasty, savory, flavorful goodness!

While there were 5 or 6 non-vegan varieties - pork, shrimp, crab salad, skirt steak, etc. the vegan one was so good that I had it for lunch three days in a row.

Imagine smashed plantains, salted and fried into a waffle cone of sorts.  Then fill it with 3 kinds of beans, cilantro, olive oil, fresh lime juice, a little red onion and some ripe avocado. It was seriously fabulous.

We got home late Saturday night and Sunday I went to the store.  I bought all of the ingredients, minus the red onion, and while I had no interest in buying a deep frier and smashing plantains (not so native to NY,) I did buy plantain chips.

I combined one can each of black, kidney and garbanzo beans.  I added a handful of chopped cilantro, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of two limes, and one diced ripe avocado. I let that marinate overnight.  At lunch today I added some crushed plantain chips and voila!  A slightly healthier, just as delicious and protein-packed meal.   

Trust me, if you want a taste of the Caribbean, can't quite get there today, and want something tasty, healthy and filling, this is a dish you need to try,

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Food Miracle

I am leaving for vacation in the morning - 3am to be precise - so today I was busy cleaning out the fridge.  I had just purchased Heidi Ho smoky chia cheeze, a head of cauliflower and a package of gorgeous wild mushrooms from Whole Foods, none of which would survive my time away, in either the fridge or the freezer.  I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought them but I was on my way home from SoulCycle and I guess I was feeling motivated to make something healthy!

I already had a package of shredded kale and brussel sprouts I had purchased at Stew Leonard's last weekend, some Rao's marinara sauce (my favorite) and some roasted tomatoes in a touch of olive oil and minced garlic.

I figured if everything would wind up in the garbage if I didn't do anything, I might as well try something. The result was vegan, healthy, savory and delicious! 

I preheated the oven to roast at 450 degrees and sprayed a metal baking sheet with non-stick baking spray.

I lined the bottom of the pan with 1.5 cups of the shredded kale and brussel sprouts, 2/3 of the chopped cauliflower florettes and the package (@ 1.5 cups) of wild mushrooms.

On top of that I poured 1 cup of the Rao's marinara sauce, 3 big dollops of the Heidi Ho smoky chia cheeze and a 1/2 cup of the roasted tomatoes. (If you don't have these marinated in your market, roast your own in 1 TBSP olive oil and 1/4 tsp minced garlic.)

Put it all in the oven, mixing after 10 minutes, and keep roasting until it's oozing, the kale is crispy and the cauliflower is super tender.

Serve hot and enjoy! It easily serves 4 (or 2 meal size portions at a minimum.) You could pair it with a glass of your favorite red wine to finish it off.  Hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Brrrrr...eakfast

Today was one of those days - my body wanted something super carb-y after the gym but my mind told me clean and lean was the way to go. With vacation looming, and coming off a month of a totally irregular schedule (not sure what regular is anymore but I digress...) this trendy vegan went clean and lean.

I picked up an acai bowl called the Nutty Elvis.  It was FREEZING but totally satisfying. Since I didn't share any, I figured the least I could do is tell you how to make it at home.

Pick up some acai juice and blend it with frozen blueberries and strawberries. You want it to be a very thick consistency, almost like a slightly melted sorbet.  Warm a bit of peanut butter (1/4 cup should do it but you can do more) while your blender is going, and slice up half a banana.

Place half of your berry mixture in a small bowl and top with half of the peanut butter and half of the bananas. Then repeat. Of course you want that top layer to look pretty for the 2 seconds before you dig in, so place those banana slices nicely! Sprinkle crushed hemp seeds on top and enjoy!  

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Latkes!


I've said it before, and I am sure I'll say it again.  The Jewish holidays are not easy ones for a vegan to enjoy in a traditional way. I love the concept of the big meals and the time with family and close friends, but the menu is just really tough to tackle.  I came across a link on Facebook from Table Magazine just before the first night of Chanukah this year.  It read: Vegan sweet and savory mini latkes.  I browsed the recipe, hit Whole Foods for parsnip, sweet potato and the other ingredients, and got to work.  These babies took some time to prepare, complete with a very simple tofu sour cream as an accompaniment, but they seemed well worth the time.
I followed the instructions, including flipping them after 25 minutes of cooking, and sampled one that fell apart in the process. The texture was fine so they were delicate - my Cuisinart chopped the vegetables quite finely and there was cooked yam in the mix - but they were pretty good!  Of course, they were lighter than typical latkes because they were neither fried nor did they contain potato, but they were just the twist I was hoping for. 

I baked them for 10-15 more minutes and set them on my stove top to cool as I went to get ready.

Well...good thing I sampled them when I did.  My curious little beagle mix got to them and polished off half the batch, knocking the other half on the floor!  I was less than thrilled but in attempt to make the most of it, I did bring the tofu sour cream to dinner, along with a root vegetable puree I had also made, and spooned that atop the roasted cauliflower I prepared as well.  If you make this, I think you'll like them - just keep your pets away!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

So Cheese-y

I am sure I am not the only one who feels like they overindulged during Thanksgiving weekend. While I had neither turkey nor pie, this trendy vegan still ate plenty - and plenty more than usual.

I want to get back on track before vacation begins a few weeks from now, so I went to Whole Foods first thing Monday morning to see what healthy breakfast options I might find to bring to the office.
I have always loved these Wasa crackers, super crispy and high in fiber.

I was looking for a vegan sliced cheese I love but there was none in stock. Instead I found these new, creamy cheese-y creations: Smoky Chia Cheeze by Heidi Ho and Kite Hill's almond milk and chive spread.
Each has a distinct flavor and texture (Heidi Ho suggests it be used as a vegan Alfredo sauce and it could) and Kite Hill would be great on a toasted bagel with thinly sliced tomato.  Head to your local Whole Foods or healthy market place and see if they have these for you to try for yourself!