Monday, October 17, 2016

Vegan Italian Cooking

Sometimes I am surprised by how few vegans I am surrounded by.  After 8 years of following this dietary lifestyle, and seeing more and more specialty ingredients popping up on store shelves, it is easy to forget this is still not more mainstream.  It truly fascinates people!  I was at lunch with someone I know well through work, and we discussed my vegan diet.  Less than a week later, she learned about Chloe Coscarelli's new cookbook, Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen, and purchased it for me as a gift.  I have not had a great deal of time to cook lately, and I tend to create my own dishes more often than I follow a recipe, but this book had too many options for me not to see what I might make once I did find time.  
The first recipe was Wild Mushroom Farro with Lemon, Mint and Artichokes.  

In a large skillet, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil over high heat and saute 12-16oz mixed mushrooms (shiitake, cremini, oyster, etc.)  Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft and lightly browned.  Add 1 14oz can of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped, and cook a few more minutes.  Add 1 minced garlic clove and let cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add 1/4 c white wine and let reduce until liquid almost evaporates.  Add 1/4 c vegetable broth and 2 c cooked farro, and season again with salt and pepper.  Let cook in pan until heated through and most of the liquid is absorbed.  

Remove from heat and mix in 2 TBSP finely chopped fresh mint and the zest of 1 lemon. Drizzle with 1 TBSP of olive oil and serve.  It was so warm and hearty and perfect for a cool, fall day.

Last night I made another one of Chloe's recipes. It called for sweet potatoes, but I used butternut squash instead.  I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and baked the squash for 30 minutes, seasoned with salt, black pepper and rosemary.  Once they were done baking, I served them with a sweet and spicy honey dipping sauce - 1/3 brown sugar and 1/3 spicy golden mustard, mixed until completely combined. There was no trace of the squash on the plate when dinner ended!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Yippee for Hippeas!

I was meeting a friend at Starbucks after a long run and after the hour long drive to meet her, it was then that I first realized I was starving!

I know this won't strike you as a great way to solve "starving," but can you imagine vegan cheese doodles with protein?  No joke.

That's what Hippeas are!  

Hippease are organic chickpea snacks.  They come in six different flavors, including sriracha sunshine!  You can buy them online or maybe in a Starbucks near you and they are a nice, different kind of vegan snack for a change.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Best New Snack!

My friend, Missy, knows how willing I am to try new things. She also knows we share a love of Japanese food. 

At Costco she found a vegan snack she swore I would flip over and she was right. She knows I love seaweed snacks, but she found some layered with almonds!  They are both sweet and savory, only 110 calories for the entire pack, and just 6 grams of heart-healthy fat. I am hopping onto as soon as I finish blogging to have some sent to my house...quickly!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Farmer's Market Finds

It has been a couple of years since I belonged to a CSA. I used to love getting my hands on the fabulous, super fresh produce each week and trying to find creative things to do with it all.

Sunday night I hit the jackpot - my friend had leftovers from her weekly bounty, and packed me a giant "to go" bag.

Tonight I finally had a minute to do something with it all, between binge watching the entire 6 seasons of Downton Abbey...

What I made would be fabulous over baked spaghetti squash or angel hair pasta, with a touch of vegan parmesan.  Even better? Prep time is all of 5 minutes!

Preheat your oven to roast at 450.

Halve 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
Dice 3-4 small plum tomatoes
Chop 2 cups of kale
Chop 1 small yellow squash
Dice 1 small purple onion

Put it all into a Pyrex dish and drizzle generously with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Sprinkle some kosher salt.

Roast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid the kale burning - and feel free to cook longer if you desire an evening tender result.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kitchen Sink Cauliflower

I love cauliflower, and thankfully, so does my family, so it is definitely a go-to vegetable when I'm cooking dinner.  If you have children, you know how picky they can be when it comes to eating their veggies!

Cauliflower (and brussel sprouts) are the two biggest sellers in my household.  I normally make a vegan recipe many of my friends seem to use as well.  Combine 1/2 tsp each of kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder and tumeric, with 2 TBSP sugar  and some olive oil. Generously coat the big-bite-size florets (I do it all in a gallon Ziploc bag a la Shake 'n Bake) and roast at 450 until caramelized (stirring every 5-10 minutes or so to avoid burning and making sure they cook evenly.)  Tonight I had just a little bit of olive oil but 2 heads of cauliflower so I made two different kinds.  Both were roasted at 450 degrees until I felt they were done...

One I roasted with 1 tsp minced garlic, and generous drizzles of sesame oil, coconut aminos and seasoned sesame seeds.  It is not my traditional recipe, but I am sure he'll like it and it mimics that candied flavor of my usual.  The flavors will meld nicely with the baked sweet potato fries I'll be making later.

The second one is what I am calling "kitchen sink" cauliflower.  I took a bunch of ingredients from my fridge and pantry, threw them all together, and wound up with a successful alternative.  I have a friend who follows this blogs and loves when I say that, but it's true!  I love throwing things together and seeing what I can create.  Usually it's successful :-)

First, I riced the cauliflower in a food processor.  To that I added 2 TBSP each of chopped parsley and cilantro.

I then I added the juice of 1 lemon, ! TBSP vegan butter, a generous pinch of kosher salt, 3/4 tsp minced shallots and 1/2 tsp minced garlic.  I drizzled it with olive oil (I only use Extra Virgin when I cook) and threw it in to roast.

I stirred the "rice" every 10 minutes to be sure it wasn't getting too brown.  I always taste as I go and I felt it needed a bit more flavor.   I added another 2 TBSP of minced shallots, a (generous) drizzle of white truffle oil, and another generous pinch of the kosher salt.  I waited for it to brown, and then mixed the whole mixture once again. 

I love the final result!  It has an interesting texture and a savory tangy flavor, only enhanced by the fresh herbs.  I noshed on some as soon as it came out of the over, but I'm thinking it would be great tomorrow on top of a baked potato or in my salad later tonight - I'll barely need to add any dressing!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Quick and Easy Morning

Hey there!  Looking for something tasty to start your day, that's healthy and quick, with plant-based protein and, for those of you to whom it matters, gluten-free?

This is for you!

This morning I'm fixing up some popcorn thins (just 38 calories for 3!) 

I topped 2 with Cedar's carmelized onion and balsamic vinegar hummus, and 2 with their garden vegetable variety.  I then topped 2 with arugula, and 2 with sliced avocado and pink Himalayan sea salt.

So many nutrients, and in so little time!

Have a great day!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Trendy Vegan Recipe: Roasted Eggplant Dip

Here is a delicious, creamy, healthy vegan recipe - light enough for summer, good enough for any time. I paired it with some baked sesame pretzel flats for dipping.
Split one large eggplant lengthwise. Place it in a baking dish, skin side down, and drizzle with olive oil and kosher salt.

Roast at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Scoop out all of the roasted flesh, discarding the skin, and place it in a blender.

Add 1/3 c tahini, 1 TBSP zatar, and the juice of one lemon.

Purée until smooth. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve!