Pumpkin Spice Muffins

muffinsThese tasty muffins are standard in my seasonal recipe rotation. They are moist and richly flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.

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This is a quick and easy recipe, too, from my favorite vegan chef, Isa Chandra Moskowitz of The Post Punk Kitchen.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz (isachandra.com)

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin (Fresh or from a can; don’t use pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons molasses

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a twelve-muffin tin.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.

Fill the muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

I like to bake the muffins and let them rest for a few hours. It actually seems to more

fully develop the flavor of the spices. These also freeze very well. Enjoy!

Vegan Marsala Mushroom Gravy (Oil-Free)

Mashers are my go-to comfort food on cool days like today. Before going plant-based, these would have been full of butter and milk. And gravy? I could whisk up a roux like nobody’s business.

It may seem too good to be true, but today’s dish contains only a tiny amount of fat (from the soy milk) and absolutely no animal products. And it is even more flavorful and satisfying than the traditional preparation. Continue reading

Warm Apple Crisp (Oil-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

Fall is my favorite time of the year. I look forward to the cooler temperatures,  anticipating the fun of preparing for the upcoming holidays, my birthday, and the food–the glorious food!

I especially love the warm flavors that mark the fall holidays. The smell of pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves, toasted nuts, vanilla. Kitchen aromas can be so evocative, full of fond memories of holidays past.

I am a big fan of warm apple anything: pie, crumble, cobbler, brown betty…you name it. A crisp is an easy, low-fat way to indulge my craving. This one is kicked up with a splash of Calvados, just for fun!

Warm Apple Crisp

Filling:

4 medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced ( I use 2 granny smith and 2 golden delicious)

2 tablespoons water or apple juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons sucanat (optional)

1 1/2 oz Calvados  or other apple brandy (optional)

Topping:

5 vegan graham crackers (Nabisco original in the red box is vegan)

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup raisins (soaked for at least 1/2 hour in hot water, covered)

2 tablespoon walnuts, toasted and finely chopped (optional)

1 tablespoon sucanat (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Method:

Filling: Heat water or apple juice in non-stick skillet on medium high heat. When it starts to bubble, add apples and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully, off the heat,  add brandy then return and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and sugar, and reduce heat, stirring and allowing sugar to melt and become syrupy. Add a bit more water or juice if needed.

Transfer apples to a 1 quart casserole or 8 x 8 baking dish, VERY lightly coated with non-stick spray.

Topping:  Crumble crackers into a food processor and pulse a few times to grind into crumbs. Add the oats, cinnamon and sucanat and pulse once more just to combine. Finally, add the drained raisins and process just until mixture comes together to form a streusal-like texture.

Crumble topping evenly over filling and bake for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or cold.

Suggested accompaniment: Vanilla Hemp Ice Cream

 

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies

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These are the best gingerbread cookies I have ever baked, vegan or not! The flavor and spices are perfectly balanced, the cookie is soft and slightly chewy, and the dough is easy to work with. Did I say the best?? Yes, absolutely. There’s still time to try this wonderful recipe and impress family and friends this holiday!

Gingerbread Cut-Out Cookies

(Recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

Makes about 16 cookies (depending on the size of your cutters)

1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup plain soymilk

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose flour (or a mix of both)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

spice blend:
1/2 teaspoon each ground nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

Directions
In a large bowl whisk together oil and sugar for about 3 minutes. Add molasses and soymilk. The molasses and soymilk won’t really blend with the oil but that’s ok.

Sift in all of the other dry ingredients, mixing about half way through. When all of the dry ingredients are added, mix until a stiff dough is formed. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour or up to 3 days in advance. If you chill longer than an hour you may want to let it sit for 10 minutes to warm up a bit before proceeding.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease your cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface roll the dough out to a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Cut out your shapes with your cookie cutters and use a thin spatula to gently place on cookie sheets. If you are using them to decorate a tree or something, remember to punch a hole in their heads (!) before baking. Bake for 8 minutes.

Remove from oven and let them cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet then move to a cooling rack. Wait until they are completely cool before icing.

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The Benefits of Eating Hot Food

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I like salad as much as the next plant-based lifestyle devotee, but there is something to be said for that satisfied, warm tummy feeling that can only come from hot food, eaten slowly. At my house, we often make a meal out of a simple bowl of soup. Maybe a little chunk of bread, maybe not.

It’s filling, it’s nutritious and most soups are inexpensive to make and prep for the week’s menu or even as a fill-in for those moments in-between when you want a quick something hot.

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Beyond my own personal preference, I did a bit of research and found there are actually benefits to eating hot food. Who knew??

Benefits of Eating Hot Food

excerpted from the cable lifestyle blog thecable.ng

Mode of digestion

Hot meals aid proper digestion because of the time it takes to consume it. This enables the consumer to eat in adequate proportions which in turn gives less work to the organ that breaks down food.

Also, during the preparation of the meal, the chemicals in the food would have been broken down before it is served and consumed; the body easily absorbs the nutrients as they diffuse into the system, increasing the nutritional value.

Low risk of bacterial contamination

It is difficult for micro-organisms to survive in hot foods. Micro-organisms die while cooking but allowing the food get cold will reintroduce the bacteria, if not careful; which makes eating the meal in a hot state healthier.

Generates energy for consumption

Warm food restores the energy cold food saps from the body and equally stores up more energy for future use.

Regulates body temperature and weight

One key thing about ingesting hot food is that it regulates the body temperature in response to a cold climate, as it provides warmth from the hot food ingested.

Hot meals also help with body weight and fat; the suppression of appetite observed during the body’s exposure to heat causes the body weight level to drop below set-point which aids greater metabolic efficiency.

Once the body is able to rid unwanted products, the weight would be regulated.

The after-feeling

The feeling you get after taking a hot meal is an amazing one, compared to a cold meal.

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Check out my selection of delicious soup recipes HERE!


Alternative Plant-Based Holiday Menus

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With the holiday season fast upon us–we, as conscious beings, want to participate in the festivities and merry-making and yet, trying to imitate long-held food traditions, albeit “vegan-style” can feel, well, a little regressive in light of everything we now know.

I have nothing against Tofurkey or Gardein or various seitan roasts.  And of course there’s the “Festival of Sides” as I like to call it. The “best of” parade of veggies, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and breads I have prepared and proudly brought to table over the years.

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But, if you want to try something really courageous, really unconventional– how about a theme menu? One that breaks the rules completely?

 

*Here are a few of my favorite vegan menus for alternative holiday (or anyday) celebrating:

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Soul Food Feast

Barbecue Ribz or Soy Curls

Macaroni and Cheeze

Simmered Greens

Corn Muffins

Sweet Potato Pie

 

 

Italian Feast

Antipasto Salad

Fresh Baguette or Focaccia

Big Pasta Dish: (Lasagna, Pasta Marinara with Meatballs or Sausage, Baked Ziti, etc.)

Tiramisu

 

Indian Feast

Vegetable Samosas

Big Curry Dish: (Chana Masala, Palak Paneer, Cashew Vegetable Korma)

Flat Breads

Cinnamon-Chai Rice Pudding

 

Thai Feast

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

Cucumber Salad

Tofu Pad Thai or Red or Green Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

Mango or Coconut Ice Cream with Mango-Ginger Coulis

 

Chinese Feast

Pot Stickers

Spring Rolls

General Tso’s Tofu with Broccoli or Szechuan Stir Fry with Vegetables and Sesame GrilledTofu

Creamy Almond Pudding

 

*Stay tuned for recipes in upcoming posts for the menu items without links!!

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Friend or Faux: What You Need to Know About Fake Meats

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Vegan Chili Dog       Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

The Plant-based Diet is receiving a lot of press these days, due in part to recent documentaries like “What The Health” currently streaming to billions of homes through services like Netflix. It’s being heavily promoted in best-selling books like Dr. Greger’s “How Not To Die”. The idea is catching on. At least in theory.

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Photo credit:  Melanie daPonte

It is easy to understand why so many would-be vegetarians declare “I can’t afford to go plant-based!” and just keep on doing what they’re doing. No, you can’t afford to go plant-based if you are simply switching out your meats and cheeses for plant-based/vegan meats and cheeses. Because they cost three to four times more than real meats and cheeses. And the real goal is to get off the meats and cheeses and eat more plants, for real. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, nuts.

A food product can be labeled vegan, the ingredients all free of animal-derived components and yet be about the unhealthiest thing you could eat. Oreo cookies are a good example of vegan junk food. Oreos are plant-based!

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Plant-Based Baked Goods                   Photo credit: Melanie daPonte

The common argument for faux meats is that they are a “transitional” food for those new to meat-free eating. After conducting my own personal studies over the course of the past five years, I have come to the conclusion that they do nothing to ease the transition to a healthy, whole foods diet.

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What they actually do is become an obstacle to healthier whole-food protein choices such as beans, legumes and potatoes.  Because they taste so damned good! And as technology moves on, they just keep tasting better and better. These products are highly processed, high in fat and salt in most cases–manipulating our taste buds with artificially engineered flavors. Consequently, simple natural foods taste dull in comparison.

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If you want to improve your health, reclaim your naturally balanced weight, increase energy and focus…all of this is possible with a whole food plant-based diet. Whole food being the important factor. This means buying and consuming foods that have five ingredients or less. Yes, you read right. Check your cupboard, your fridge, your desk drawer at work. How do your plant-based food choices stack up?

There are really no shortcuts to better health. There are no super foods. Sustainable health is attained by a lifestyle balance between the foods we eat and the way we treat our bodies and minds every day.

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Should we never eat faux meats? Do I sometimes eat them? Absolutely. Most dieticians and nutritionists agree that a ratio of 80% natural, whole foods to 20% “discretionary” foods is a good balance for sustainable health. That’s what I’m shooting for. One day at a time. One meal at a time.

 

 

True Food Kitchen, Boca Raton, FL

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True Food Kitchen is a restaurant chain with twenty or so locations throughout the mid to lower section of the United States. We stumbled upon this newly opened restaurant located in the Boca Raton Town Center Mall at lunchtime on a Monday. The dining room and bar were bustling with friendly, energetic denim-clad staff sporting t-shirts with positive one and two-word messages such as “Honest”, “Nurture” and “Shine On”.

The menu boasts a large and seasonal selection of fresh produce-filled dishes, cocktails, health tonics, lemonades and teas featuring freshly juiced fruits and additions such as matcha. We noticed the mixologist never seemed to stop making these beverages the whole time we were there.

The overall scene has an open-air feel to it, relaxed and casual, yet lively with the constant flow of staff carrying beautifully presented and colorful food and drinks through the dining room, which is decorated in a modern eco style with lots of fresh plants surrounding cozy tables and banquettes.

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The menu offers items marked vegan in almost every category. We were pleased to see a tempeh BLT and dishes featuring healthful whole food protein sources like quinoa, hemp seeds and edamame, just to name a few.

We started with the soup of the day, a simple vegetable minestrone, which we were advised was vegan without the parmesan garnish.

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For our lunch we shared the vegan grilled artichoke pesto pizza with almond ricotta. The crust was thin, light and crispy, topped with fresh spinach, artichokes and slices of summer squash. The pesto tasted freshly made and the creamy almond ricotta had a bright and clean flavor, with just a hint of lemon. The pizza was definitely large enough for two people to split for lunch with the cup of soup as a starter.

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The dessert menu offered three vegan selections on this day. Vanilla ice cream, rhubarb crumble, and banana chia pudding.

I know True Food Kitchen will become a standard in our restaurant rotation with its creative vegan dishes, refreshing made to order beverages and excellent service.

Next time we will save room for dessert!

 

Pros: Fresh, creative, vegan menu items, Friendly, energetic staff, Contemporary, spacious decor and casual atmosphere

Cons: High noise level during peak hours, Serves meat

If you don’t already know the website happycow.net, click on this link and get up to speed with the best resource for locating vegan and veg-friendly restaurants, bakeries and stores throughout the U.S.

After stumbling upon this new restaurant in my area with vegan options, I decided to become a happycow.net contributor and added True Food Kitchen. I suggest you do the same and you will be providing a great service to us all!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

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It goes without saying that this time of the year begs for pumpkin spice, especially on weekend mornings. These pancakes are so moist and sweet with just the right amount of warm autumn spice. The recipe calls for pumpkin pie spice and I didn’t have any on the shelf, but not to fear, I made my own with pantry spices. The recipe follows.

Double up and keep a batch in the freezer for later!

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Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

                                                 based on a recipe from  minimalistbaker.com

Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk + 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup packed pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (recipe follows)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)

Method:

Whisk together wet ingredients and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients then stir into wet ingredients just until well-blended.

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Heat a cast iron griddle and cook just like any other pancake recipe. Serve with vegan butter and real maple syrup (of course).

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Serving suggestion: With a big scoop of tofu scramble!

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Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground nutmeg

1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice

1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves

 

 

Dutch Apple Pie

This is a re-post of a recipe that has received a lot of attention from readers over the past seven years on my blog, and well worth sharing again, I think! I hope you enjoy it.

One of my favorite comfort foods that instantly brings to mind the holidays is warm apple pie. That cinnamon, brown sugar goodness just takes me right back to my Nana’s kitchen.

This recipe is a fusion between my favorite pie filling recipe and my favorite topping recipe. This fruit dessert is not meant to be healthful. It is meant to be decadent. It’s the holiday after all! Big sweet, crunchy buttery crumbs atop a spicy filling of tart and sweet apples and brown sugar. This is my idea of pie perfection.

Dutch Apple Pie

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Ingredients:

Unbaked pie shell for 1-crust pie ( I use Wholly Wholesome Organic Whole Wheat Pie Shells from Whole Foods Market)

Filling:

5 medium apples, (I used 2 Granny Smith and 3 Jonagold) peeled, cored and sliced thin

¾ cup sugar

2 T flour

2 T cornstarch

1 T lemon juice

1 t vanilla

Streusel Topping:

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup all purpose flour

¾ t cinnamon

½ t nutmeg

5 T Earth balance margarine, cut into 1 inch pieces

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, then reduce to 350 and slide cookie sheet underneath. Bake another 30 minutes. Tent with foil to prevent over-browning.

Vegan Pecan Bars

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Oh, my gosh! Scrolling through my reader the other day I came across this delicious recipe from Kaitlyn at myconsciouskitchen.com and was immediately inspired! I dropped everything and made it my mission to not only bake these sweet, nutty, layered cookie bars, but to photograph the process and post about it!

First, I preheated my oven to 325 and  gathered my ingredients for the bottom layer (the cookie part). I decided I would double up and make this part a bit thicker, kind of like a shortbread crust.

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Simple, simple. All stuff from the pantry. For the shortening, however, I substituted Earth Balance Buttery Stick.

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I mixed all the dry ingredients together with the fat, like a biscuit dough, then added the cool water, just until it was well-combined then pressed it out into an 8 x 8 inch pan, lined with a sheet of parchment paper and oiled with cooking spray. I baked it until the crust was firm and lightly browned, like a cookie, then set it aside to cool for about 20 minutes.

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Next, the ingredients for the filling. The flax egg takes a little forethought, but again, super-simple to put together while the crust cools.

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I mixed together everything with a whisk, folded in the chopped pecans, then straight in the oven.

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After 40 minutes, I checked it, then gave it another 5 minutes. It looked perfect. I allowed the pan to cool on a rack for a  couple of hours so I would get nice, clean slices.

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I ran a knife edge around the inside of the pan before carefully lifting out, then cut into servings.

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The verdict: Sweet and sticky and delicious! Like a combination of pecan pie and your most tender, buttery shortbread cookie. Perfect served warmed with a scoop of non-dairy vanilla, or as-is. We particularly enjoy a square straight from the freezer!

This one is definitely a keeper! Thanks so much, Kaitlyn! Find the full recipe HERE

 

Vegan Pumpkin (or Sweet Potato) Pie

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This is hands-down the best pumpkin pie recipe out there! The sweet, creamy filling is firm without being dry, and simple as a smoothie to put together. Perfectly spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, this pie will be the star of your holiday table!

Vegan Pumpkin Pie

(recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

Ingredients:

3 cups pumpkin or sweet potato puree ( I used sweet potato here)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup soy or other non-dairy milk

4 tsp. canola or other vegetable oil

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

pinch ground cloves

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tsp. agar powder (see note below)

Pastry for 1 single-crust pie

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

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Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine until very smooth.

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Spread evenly into pie shell and bake in middle of center oven rack for 60-65 minutes.

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Let cool for at least four hours before cutting to allow filling to set. Perfect!

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*Note: Agar powder is a vegetarian substitute for gelatin. If you can’t find it at your local natural foods store, grab it online through amazon.com

 

 

 

 

Banana Oat Pancakes

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This recipe from our fellow blogger Spencer, has so much going for it!

#1 Whole Foods

#2 No oil or sugar

# Very, very little flour

# Simple mix and pour from the blender!

My pancake consumption has gone down dramatically over the years because they feel so heavy in my tummy and tend to drag down my energy. But when I read Spencer’s recipe I was intrigued, and I had to give it a try.

I’m happy to say I’m back in the pancake game! These are so light and tasty with a yummy banana flavor. They left me feeling satisfied without feeling too full. This recipe is definitely staying in the permanent rotation!

Try a handful of frozen blueberries sprinkled on right before you flip. So delicious!

 

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Check out the original recipe here at spencersgapyear.wordpress.com

 

Roasted Pumpkin Mousse

 

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Here’s a little something special to spice up your next vegan feast!

Roasted Pumpkin Mousse

15 ounces PUMPKIN PUREE
1 tbsp. SUGAR,CANE
⅔ cup BROWN SUGAR, LIGHT, packed
1 tbsp. ARROWROOT POWDER
1 tsp. CINNAMON, GROUND
½ tsp. AGAR-AGAR POWDER
⅛ tsp. GINGER, GROUND
⅛ tsp. SALT, KOSHER
⅛ tsp. BLACK PEPPER, GROUND
¼ tsp. LEMON ZEST, FINE
pinch NUTMEG
pinch CLOVES
pinch CARDOMOM
15 ounces COCONUT MILK
½ tsp. VANILLA

1.Preheat oven to 325. Spread pumpkin on parchment-lined sheet tray. Sprinkle cane sugar over top and bake 15-20 minutes or until pumpkin has dried on surface and has cracked appearance.:

2.Spoon pumpkin into food processor. Let cool to room temperature.:

3.Combine brown sugar, arrowroot, cinnamon, agar-agar, ginger, salt, pepper, lemon zest, nutmeg, cloves, and cardomom in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Stir in the coconut milk and vanilla.:

4. Set pan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil, whisking constantly. Cook to thicken, until the mixture is thick and gel-like, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture to bowl of food processor with pumpkin. Scoop into large bowl and chill.:

5. Serve with whipped cream and candied pecans (optional)

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David Lynch’s Quinoa With Broccoli

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I found myself inspired the other night by David Lynch’s short film, Quinoa, included as a special feature on his Inland Empire DVD. Filmed in black and white, in his own kitchen, the innovative filmmaker and artist leads us step-by- step through the preparation of one of his favorite dinners, quinoa with broccoli.

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While the dish cooks, Lynch takes a break on his porch with a glass of wine and a cigarette and tells us a story about his 1965 train ride from Yugoslavia to Italy. So random, yet so fascinating. So Lynch.

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Quinoa with Broccoli

from the short film, Quinoa by David Lynch

 

Ingredients:

A scant 1/2 cup quinoa, dry

Water for cooking

pinch of salt

1 small vegetable bouillon cube, cut into pieces

3/4 cup organic broccoli florets

Braggs liquid aminos, to taste

Olive oil, extra virgin, to taste

Method:

Fill a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with about an inch of fresh water. Set it over a nice, hot flame and bring to the boil with a pinch of sea salt. Stir in the quinoa and reduce flame to low. Cover and simmer for 9 minutes.

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After 9 minutes, lift the lid and add the broccoli. Cover and continue to steam over low heat for another 8 minutes.

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Remove from heat and add the cut up bouillon cube directly into quinoa and stir until dissolved.

Taste for salt, then add liquid aminos and a splash of olive oil to taste. Serve immediately.

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Makes 1 large portion.

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Spicy Red Bean and Tofu Jambalaya

IMG_3393This dish can be put together in 30 minutes or less but tastes like it’s been simmering for hours. My secret is a homemade cajun spice mix I always keep on hand for a quick kick of flavor! You can also use Emeril’s Essence right off the shelf.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun spice mix, homemade or store-bought (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced medium
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (or 3/4 cup canned, undrained)
  • 1 14-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. Earth Balance non-dairy margarine
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • Hot cayenne pepper sauce (optional)

Prepare the tofu. Cut block horizontally across to make two slabs. Sprinkle both sides liberally with 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Sear in a hot pan coated lightly with a bit of canola oil, about 5 minutes on each side (cast iron is ideal). Remove from pan and set aside. Cut into bite-sized cubes or strips.

Add canola oil to the pan and sauté scallions, celery and bell pepper until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add tomato, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and margarine, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium low. Toss in the rice and beans and heat through. Lastly, add the tofu back into the pan and stir occasionally until heated through. Adjust seasoning, adding more Cajun spice as desired. Garnish with reserved scallions. Serve hot sauce on the side.

Cajun Spice Mix

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

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Have I ever mentioned how crazy I am for jerk? This wildly flavorful balance of hot peppers, herbs, spices, brown sugar and tangy onions is so crazy good–and I never even tried it at home until I went vegan. I like it homemade better than any other way.

With this recipe, I suggest you make it worth your while and double or even quadruple the ingredients to either freeze some marinade for later, or do what I did: roast up a ton of tempeh in the oven and store in the freezer for a quick supper or crumbled in dirty rice. Yum!

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

8 ounces tempeh (Westsoy Brand is preferable), cut crosswise into 8 slices

Marinade: 

2 scallions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 habanero peppers, stemmed and seeded (or if you can take the heat, level up with scotch bonnets)

2 T lime juice

1 T soy sauce

1 1/2 T olive oil

2/4 T sea salt

1/2 T brown sugar

1/2 T fresh thyme leaves

1 t allspice, ground

1 t black pepper, ground

1/4 t fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 t cinnamon

Method:

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Puree all marinade ingredients in blender until smooth.

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Marinate tempeh slices overnight

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Roast in 400 degree oven on a greased, foil-lined pan  for 15 minutes. Turn over and roast another 10 minutes or so, until marinade is absorbed and exterior is crisp and dry.

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Enjoy!

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Vegan Zucchini-Spice Muffins

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When my day in the kitchen is smooth, I often have a little energy left over to make something just for fun. Today I baked these delicious, moist muffins filled with nutritious real food like fresh zucchini, banana, applesauce, walnuts and raisins. And just in time for tea!

This recipe comes directly from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s website. She’s definitely my go-to gal for the tastiest, fool-proof vegan recipes. Click here to link directly to her site and the recipe: ZUCCHINI BANANA BREAD

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I made little modification, other than using whole wheat pastry flour, adding a little

chai masala for extra spiciness and baking the batter as muffins instead of in a loaf pan.

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They baked up in about 20 minutes. Just watch your time. You’ll know when they’re ready–nice high, lightly-browned domes and dry on top, but if you’re not sure just poke a toothpick or the blade of a thin knife through the center to make sure the batter is no longer wet.

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Easy Mozzarella Cheeze Sauce

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So, you reach a point when you stop trying to replace cheese with processed substitutes like Daiya or Follow Your Heart. Your palate can finally appreciate the pure flavors of the tomatoes, the onions, the garlic against the sprinkling of herbs simmered into the sauce.

And yet, there is that missing element. You are looking for a light, creamy counterpoint to the tangy, savory marinara in your lasagna or pasta bake or fresh vegan pizza. This quick and easy recipe is just the solution.

Made with basic pantry staples, this no-cook, tofu-based cheesy sauce comes together lickety-split, faster than the time it takes to boil pasta.

 

Easy Mozzarella Cheeze Sauce

From VegNews magazine

 

1 pkg Tofu, firm silken, 12.3 ounce (shelf-stable type, like Mori-Nu, not water-packed)
¼ cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
1 ½ tbsp. Miso, white
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. Lemon juice
1 tsp. Cornstarch
½ tsp. Onion powder
¾ tsp. Salt

 

Puree all ingredients in a blender. Store refrigerated up to 5 days.

 

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Hemp Seed Parmesan

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Here’s a simple three-ingredient addition to pizza, pasta, salads, veggies and anywhere else you want a  sprinkle of savory flavor.

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Hemp Seed Parmesan

¼ cup Hemp seeds (or hearts)
2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
¼ tsp. Himalayan Pink Salt

 

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Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks.

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Never-Fail Brown Rice

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I know, it seems simple, right? What could be easier than rice and water? You’d be surprised at how many ways there are to mess up rice cookery. I know, because that was me, before I found the best method outside of a rice cooker for preparing perfectly cooked brown rice.

It’s called the pasta method, and it’s just like it sounds. Fill up a big pot with salted water  like you are getting ready to boil spaghetti. When the water comes to a full rolling boil, stir in your brown rice and let it continue to boil, careful to regulate the heat so it doesn’t boil over!

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I always use my windup timer. Set for 30-35 minutes. Check a few grains after 30.

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Just like pasta, after checking for doneness, drain and use immediately or rinse with cool water and refrigerate for later use.

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So easy!! The grains are perfectly cooked, tender, separate and never sticky.

Use this method and I promise you will never over or under-cook brown rice again!

Fancy Potatoes

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Okay, we’ve established potatoes are cheap, vegan eats. They are also whole and perfect in their natural state. Although I wouldn’t recommend eating them raw, they cook up in so many delicious ways.

A plain old baked potato is fine, but if you’re looking to elevate your side dish a bit, this recipe can really spice things up at the table. It’s actually easier than it looks!

Hassleback Potatoes

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized russet potatoes

1 tbsp. dairy-free butter or margarine, melted

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic granules or powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.

Line a small baking tray with aluminum foil.

Wash and dry potatoes, then cut a series of horizontal slices about 1/8 inch wide and going only 2/3 of the way through the potato, so it holds together, but the gaps open wide enough to slip the seasoning in between.

Mix together the seasonings and the butter and oil, then rub the potatoes all over with the mixture, getting it in between the slices well.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, uncovered, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. You may wish to serve with a bit more seasoned butter, as potatoes are very absorbent.

 

 

 

House Vinaigrette

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Sometimes I just want a simple, yet tasty vinegar and oil dressing for my salad. This is the classic recipe we were taught at culinary school. You can dress it up or keep it basic. The variations are endless.

House Vinaigrette

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 tsp dijon mustard

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Peel and crush garlic clove and add to vinegar. Allow to sit for 30 minutes, then remove the garlic and discard. Whisk in the mustard and then slowly whisk in the oil in a thin stream until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper.

Restaurant-Style Marinara

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The secret for marinara sauce that tastes like it’s been simmering all day? Tomato paste. The savory-sweet intensity adds depth and richness without the hours of slow-cooking.

What I like best about this recipe? It’s simple and quick to prepare. Oh, and no chopping, except for a little clove of garlic, for which you can substitute 1/4 tsp of granulated garlic if you choose.

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Best Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Olive oil
1 clove Garlic, minced
½ teaspoon Oregano, dried
¼ teaspoon Thyme, dried
½ teaspoon Salt
14.5 ounces diced tomatoes, in juice
1 tablespoon Tomato paste

1. Saute garlic in oil over medium-low heat about 2 minutes.

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Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt and pepper all at once stirring together until tomato paste is incorporated.

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2. Increase the heat a bit and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring and crushing the tomatoes as you go.

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If you like a smoother sauce, just scoop out about half, run it through the blender then return to the pot. Easy!

Plant-Based: On The Cheap

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“I would try the plant-based diet, but I can’t afford it!” A phrase I have heard often. But, it’s a myth that a plant-based lifestyle has to blow your grocery budget. And it doesn’t have to include strange ingredients you’ve never heard of. A healthy, whole food diet can actually be totally the opposite. A simplification.

Keeping in mind the basic foods your body needs  makes shopping so much easier:

  1. Protein (beans, peas and lentils, nuts, nut butters). Remember that one type of bean, legume or nut choice in combination with a grain or healthful vegetables provides enough protein in a meal. There’s no need to overdo it.
  2. Complex Carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains).
  3. Fats. The health benefits of processed oils is still a controversial subject in the science of nutrition, so I will simply offer that many foods contain naturally occurring fats such as nuts, coconuts and avocado. Choose oils conscientiously and use  sparingly if you are concerned about calories.

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Here’s a list of healthy and inexpensive foods to get you started:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Brown rice
  4. Creamy natural peanut butter (multi-purpose protein for toast, sandwiches and sauces)
  5. Dried black or other beans (easier to cook than you think. Google it)
  6. Dried lentils (even easier and quicker than beans)
  7. Frozen fruit
  8. Frozen mixed vegetables
  9. Hummus (homemade tastes best and is cheaper if you sub peanut butter for tahini)
  10. Rolled Oats (they micro cook in two minutes)
  11. Russet Potatoes (let me count the ways to prepare this cheap and filling vegetable)

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Although a constantly rotating variety of produce (eating the rainbow, as they say) is ideal, it is not within everyone’s budget. It’s okay to eat apples and bananas all week. The point is, you are eating fruit! You are getting vitamins and fiber, water and minerals. All good stuff!  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Sometimes you will splurge on the raspberries or juicy peaches in season. And it will actually be a treat, because your flavor palate is now accustomed to the natural sweetness of fruit sugar, as opposed to all the jacked-up laboratory produced sweeteners in processed snacks. It actually prefers it.

IMG_0852.jpgThe food industry is always coming out with new products. And that’s just what they are. Products, that are processed. Not whole and healthy foods in their natural state. There’s nothing wrong with these products as long as they are kept in perspective–as only the smallest part of our overall caloric intake.

Upcoming posts will feature recipes and ideas for simple and delicious meals that make going plant-based a sustainable choice without breaking the bank!

 

 

Tofu Scramble

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Tofu scramble, when I reflect on my day to day cooking, is probably the recipe I cook most often at home and for clients. It’s quick, easy and versatile. Delicious on its own, it also lends itself well to sandwiches, burritos, casseroles…you name it.

And this recipe is SO tasty and good it’s a staple on my  menus. I think you will agree this recipe is the best!

Scrambled Tofu

recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Spice blend:
2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with your fingers

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced (or more, to taste)

1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Fresh black pepper to taste

First stir the spice blend together in a small cup. Add water and mix. Set aside.

Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Saute the garlic in olive oil for about a minute. Break the tofu apart into bite sized pieces and saute for about 10 minutes, using a spatula to stir often. Get under the tofu when you are stirring, scrape the bottom and don’t let it stick to the pan, that is where the good, crispy stuff is. Use a thin metal spatula to get the job done, a wooden or plastic one won’t really cut it. The tofu should get browned on at least one side, but you don’t need to be too precise about it. The water should cook out of it and not collect too much at the bottom of the ban. If that is happening, turn the heat up and let the water evaporate.

Add the spice blend and mix to incorporate. Add the nutritional yeast and fresh black pepper. Cook for about 5 more minutes. Serve warm.

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Vegan Brunch

 

Mini Tofu Omelets

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Here’s a tasty, portable breakfast option from the new cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, “Isa Does It”.

These cute little mini-omelets have a great flavor and are super easy to prepare!

Mini Tofu Omelets

  • 2 cloves Garlic, peeled
  • 14 ounces Soft, silken tofu
  • ½ cup Water
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ tsp. Turmeric, ground
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ cup Chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp. Arrowroot powder

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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the garlic in a food processor.: Add the tofu, water, nutritional yeast, olive oil, turmeric and salt. Puree until smooth.
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2. Add the chickpea flour and arrowroot and puree again for about 10 seconds, until combined.:
3. Make sure to scrape down the sides so that everything is well incorporated.:
4. Brush a 12-cup muffin pan lightly with oil. Pour the batter into each well until a little over halfway full.:
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5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges have pulled away from the sides a bit and the top is firm to the touch.:
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6. For the best results, let cool for at least 10 minutes. :
Servings/Yield: Yield: 12
Source:  “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Super-Simple Flatbreads

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Sometimes I like to skip the rice and just serve a hearty whole grain flatbread with my Indian Curries. But, I don’t want making a quick bread to become a big project! This recipe from Alice Waters is easier than whipping up a batch of pancakes. An important point to remember: start the flatbread dough before your curry. It needs to sit for 30 minutes before forming.

Whole Wheat Flatbreads (makes four 6-8 inch flatbreads)

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

 

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in the water and olive oil and knead to form a moist dough. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.

Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. Divide the dough into 4 balls. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each ball to a 6-8 inch round. Cook  in the skillet over moderate heat until they start to brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned in spots on the other side, about 2 minutes. 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Chickpea Tenders

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Okay, I’ve really done it this time! I know there are vegan variations on chicken wings and I’ve tried them all. But this. This is different.

What I did:

I took Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s tried and true recipe for chickpea cutlets and formed them into tenders and served them with homemade buffalo and ranch sauces.

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Here’s what I like best about this version. The texture. These tenders have a real “chew” without being dry along with an excellent flavor that actually tastes kind of like its traditional counterpart.

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Oh, and did I mention they are so, so easy to prepare? Thank you once again, oh mighty Isa!!

Chickpea Cutlets

Oh, and in case you don’t have recipes for buffalo and ranch sauces, she’s got that covered, too. These are recipes in my regular rotation:

Isa’s Buffalo and Ranch Sauce Recipes

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Vegan Barbecue Ribz

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Fire up the grill this weekend and prepare your favorite barbecue sauce for these super-easy and super-tasty seitan ribz!

This recipe, direct from my archive, comes together faster than a batch of brownies. You can double up and freeze for later and also to slice  thin and fry up like bacon. Yum!

BARBECUE RIBZ

recipe courtesy Brian McCarthy

4 cups VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN
¼ cup PAPRIKA
2 tablespoons GRANULATED GARLIC
2 tablespoons GRANULATED ONION
2 tablespoons KOSHER SALT
3 cups ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER
¾ cups CANOLA OIL
2 teaspoons LIQUID SMOKE

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix all wet ingredients in a pourable container. Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour wet into dry and mix well. Press into 13 x 9 greased pan. Bake 350 for 45-55 minutes, until no longer soft in center and has a dry appearance.
2. Slice into 1.5 ounce servings. Grill slices for marks if desired. Serve with barbecue sauce.
Servings/Yield: 14 servings

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Dan Dan Noodles

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Nowadays you can pretty much Google search any recipe, type the word ‘vegan’ in front of it and come up with something good. I do this as a matter of course when I have something in mind I really want to make.

Browsing noodle dish recipes for ease of execution and simplicity of ingredients, I came across this creative and healthful new addition to my repertoire on Caroline Phelps website, Pickled Plum.

This spicy Asian noodle recipe is super-simple to make. After cooking and draining my thin, whole wheat spaghetti, I blitzed the sauce ingredients in the blender. Sauce done. Everything after that went super-fast.

IMG_5800.jpgBrowning the mushrooms and celery over high heat.

IMG_5802.jpgI added thawed edamame for texture and protein along with the scallions.

IMG_5806.jpgWarming the sauce with noodles and spinach. I used almond butter instead of peanut.

IMG_5808.jpgIt all comes together!

This is a good veggie-ful weeknight dinner option. It will go even faster if you make the sauce and cook the noodles ahead, like maybe the night before, or use leftover spaghetti from Italian night.

Find the full recipe HERE

 

 

Coconut Chana Saag

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Here I am turning out a lovely pot full of Indian goodness called Coconut Chana Saag. Super simple when you have the spices handy. The rest is just basic cookery, like any other dish.

Coconut Chana Saag

1 tablespoon Coconut oil
½ med Onion, yellow, diced
1 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Curry powder
½ teaspoon Salt
Pepper
¼ teaspoon Anise seeds or fennel
⅛ teaspoon Garam Masala
¼ teaspoon Cumin
⅛ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
12 ounces Tomatoes,whole, canned
30 ounces Chickpeas
4 ounces Lacinto Kale, chopped

Finish with:
7 ounces Coconut milk
1 tablespoon Lime juice
2 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped

Method:

Saute the aromatics and spices:

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Add tomatoes and simmer to blend flavors:

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Add the other stuff and simmer until heated through, then finish with the last three ingredients, stirring in off the heat.

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That really wasn’t hard…and the flavor is phenomenal. Home-cooked Indian food can be way more delicious and fresh tasting than what you purchase from a restaurant. You control the oil, the salt and the level of heat you prefer. What’s better than that?

The full recipe, courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz via theguardian.

 

“Meaty” Grilled Tofu

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Through much trial and error over the years– I have come to a great appreciation and respect for the humble soybean curd with its versatility and its ability to absorb flavors and even change texture with the right method of preparation.

Start Here:

  1. Buy the right tofu. This seems like a no-brainer, but  it can be confusing, with all the brands and styles: silken, firm, extra-firm, etc. For this recipe, we need to start with the firmest tofu we can find, packed in water, found in the refrigerator section. If you stumble upon the Woodstock brand, extra-firm, know that you have found the holy grail of tofu. This brand is available only in select stores in my area and in limited quantity, so when I find it I buy it up!

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2. Dry, dry, dry! The secret to good texture with grilled tofu is to press out as much water as possible. Either press it with a pressing apparatus, or wrap it in paper towels and lay a cutting board on top, then add some weight to it. I have used heavy books, canned goods, even hand-weights. Let the tofu press for a good 20 minutes or so.

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3. Fabricate! Cut the tofu in the shape that fits the dish you are making. For grilling, obviously, you want nice strips that fit on the grill and not too thick, so as to absorb the flavorings. I cut the block in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again and so on, until I have 8 planks

4. Marinate! This step is crucial. If you want flavor in your tofu, you have to apply it yourself. My go-to marinade for grilling is 3 tbsp. tamari sauce to 1 tbsp. sesame oil. Simple and delicious! When you press the tofu well, it will be thirsty for the marinade, so you won’t need to soak it too long. Twenty minutes is plenty of time for this one, although, you can marinate longer or overnight if you like.

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5. Grill! Get your grill searing hot and you will have a nice, brown sealed outside on your tofu. You can also fry in a dry non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, for a crisp, brown exterior.

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6. Optional step. Another way to alter the texture of tofu is to wrap it after pressing and freeze it until solid, then thaw it out. Press the liquid out again, then marinate and grill or pan-fry. This gives the tofu more of a chewy and porous texture. It’s worth a try. I like it both ways.

Hearts of Palm Cakes with Tomato-Caper Remoulade

Image Credit: Melanie daPonte

This recipe is hands-down the menu item my clients request most often! Light, but filling these vegetable cakes are actually loaded with protein in the form of quinoa flakes that help hold it all together.

With a little fresh greenery and a bit of sauce, you’ve got yourself a meal!

HEARTS OF PALM CAKES

(6 servings)

14 OZ HEARTS OF PALM, DRAINED
1 STALK CELERY
½ CUP CARROT, DICED
½ CUP ONION, RED, DICED
½ CUP BELL PEPPER, RED, DICED
2 TBSP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF, CHOPPED
2 TSP OLD BAY SEASONING
1.5 OZ VEGANAISE
1 CUP QUINOA FLAKES

1.DRAIN HEARTS OF PALM AND LIGHTLY PULSE IN FOOD PROCESSOR, PRESERVING TEXTURE. TRANSFER TO LARGE MIXING BOWL. :

2.PULSE VEGETABLES TO CHOP AND ADD TO BOWL WITH HEARTS OF PALM. MIX IN VEGANAISE, SEASONING AND QUINOA FLAKES. LET REST, REFRIGERATED FOR AT LEAST 20 MINUTES.:

3. FORM INTO PATTIES AND BAKE ON GREASED PARCHMENT IN 400 DEGREE OVEN 15 MINUTES, THEN FLIP AND SPRAY WITH OIL, BAKING ANOTHER 15 MINUTES, UNTIL FIRM.

Tomato-Caper Remoulade

¼ cup Vegan Mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Chili sauce or ketchup
1 ½ teaspoons Mustard, Creole
1 ½ teaspoons Olive oil
¾ teaspoon Hot sauce
1 ½ teaspoons Lemon juice
¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 med Scallion, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Parsley, flat leaf
1 ½ teaspoons Olives, green, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons Celery, chopped
¼ clove Garlic, minced
⅛ teaspoon Chili powder
¼ teaspoon Salt
⅛ teaspoon Pepper, black
¼ teaspoon Capers, minced

Mix all ingredients together by hand and allow flavors to blend for 30-60 minutes before serving.

Tofu Vindaloo

This is a spicy Indian dish I decided to prepare without any added oil. It turned out  tasty and well balanced, served with a fluffy timbale of fragrant jasmine rice.

Tofu Vindaloo

Recipe adapted from the cookbook,

“Vegan Planet” by Robin Robertson

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/1/2 tablespoons peeled and chopped fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

3 tablespoons water

One 16 oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained and diced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1/2 large carrot, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4 inch-thick half-moons

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced

One 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 cup water, or more as needed

Method:

In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, ginger and spices with 1 tablespoon of water. Process until smooth and set aside. Very lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium high. Add the diced tofu and sear until nicely browned. This may take up to 10 minutes. Move the tofu around carefully to brown evenly. Remove tofu from skillet and set aside. Season with salt and pepper.  Add 2 tablespoons water to the pan and heat until bubbly. Add onions and carrot, cover, and cook until softened. About 5 minutes. Add red pepper, cover, and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and juice and 1 cup water and bring to boil.

Reduce the heat to low and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add the peas and tofu and heat through. This sauce may be served chunky or smooth. If you prefer a smooth sauce, use an immersion blender before adding the peas and tofu.

Mushroom Bourguignon

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Well, isn’t this fancy? A classical French dish turned vegan!

Warm, savory and satisfying– this rich stew is filled with vegetables, potatoes and hearty mushrooms, simmered with red wine and fresh thyme leaves.

If you really want to go top shelf, bake a nice little puff pastry top hat!

Mushroom Bourguignon

1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 ½ Carrots, diced
½ large Onion, yellow, diced
½ cup Onions, pearl, peeled
1 cup Mushrooms, cremini, halved
½ cup Mushrooms, button, halved
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
½ 1 large Potato, russet, diced
½ cup Peas, frozen
2 cloves Garlic, roasted
1 ½ cups Red wine, Pinot Noir preferred
¼ cup Vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
3 sprigs Thyme, fresh, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon Sea salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper, black
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened
1.5 tablespoons Flour, all purpose
1 tablespoon Brown rice syrup ( I used agave nectar)

Method:
1.Heat oil and add carrots, yellow onion and pearl onions, cook for about 3 minutes to start browning. Add mushrooms and walnuts and cook for about 3 minutes.:

2.Add potato, peas and garlic and stir. Add wine, vegetable broth, tomato paste, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for about 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.:

3.While vegetable mixture is cooking, whisk together room temperature butter and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.:

4.After about 30 minutes of cooking add brown rice syrup and buter and flour mixture to pot and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over low heat. Let cook for up to an hour if you have time.:

Recipe Source:  The Spork-Fed Cookbook by Jenny Engel and Heather Goldsmith

Tofu Curry

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This recipe is a client favorite! It’s a north Indian style curry, filled with aromatic spices and baked tofu.

The recipe comes from the cookbook “Vegan Indian Cooking” by Anupy Singla. Ms. Singla generously provides the recipe on her website as well. You can find it here.

With authentic Indian cooking, it’s all about the spices. Once you gather them together, the process runs pretty smooth and simple.

grindThe recipe starts with the grinding of the aromatics which will be folded into soy yogurt and a few spices then added to fried spices in the saucepan.

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blend

The scent is heavenly as the spices and flavors blend together. The big flavor comes from the mingling of these many aromatics and spices as they simmer over low heat for about 15-20 minutes. As with most curries it will taste better the next day, but even fresh from the stove it is delicious!

Party Enchiladas (gluten and soy free)

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Now, I’m not gonna lie, enchiladas are neither quick or easy to make, but they are great for entertaining. These can be prepped ahead of time then popped into the oven for 20 minutes. Make it easy on yourself with simple side dishes such as  chips and salsa and frozen roasted corn kernels (Whole Foods) sautéed with chopped fresh zucchini and red bell peppers. Drizzle with a little cilantro pesto for an extra note of flavor.

Enchiladas

1 recipe gluten free enchilada sauce (below)

1/2 recipe cilantro pesto (below)

1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 can refried beans, pinto or black

1 large russet potato

1 small bell pepper

1 small green pepper

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup Daiya dairy-free cheddar, shredded

2 scallions, thinly sliced

6-8 black olives, sliced

12 gluten free corn tortillas (check the label)

Coconut oil

Gluten free enchilada sauce

recipe courtesy http://www.glutenfreegigi.com

Cilantro Pesto

recipe courtesy Bobby Flay http://www.foodnetwork.com

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) lightly toasted

1/2 lime, juiced

Jalapeno, to taste

Salt and pepper

Place first 4 ingredients in blender or small food processor and completely puree. Add lime juice, jalapeno, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Method:

Wash potato and place in pot of cold water just to cover. Simmer on medium high until tender when pierced with a knife blade. Remove carefully and allow to cool. Meanwhile, prepare sauces and prep veggies. Saute onions and peppers in a large skillet over medium-high heat with a pinch of salt. Meanwhile, peel cooled potato and cut into 1/2 inch dice. Add to vegetables with pinto beans and mix together. Add about 3 tablespoons of cilantro pesto (maybe more) and stir to coat well then remove from heat. Check for seasoning and let rest.IMG_4437

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Assemble the enchiladas by first brushing each with a coating of enchilada sauce, front and back. Spread a  layer of refried beans followed by 2 or 3 tablespoons of the vegetable filling then top with a light sprinkling of cheese. Roll carefully and place seam side down in a lightly oiled 9 x 13 inch baking pan.

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Place rolls snugly together in pan, then top with more sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. If you are making ahead, cover pan and refrigerate until ready to bake, then top with sauce and cheese.

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Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and edges look a little crisp. Garnish with scallions, olives and a bit more cilantro pesto if desired and serve immediately.

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Easy Homemade Pizza Dough

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When I have a bit of extra time, usually on weekends, and a little forethought, I whip up a batch of homemade pizza dough. This super simple recipe by Chloe Coscarelli, makes a nice, smooth, fluffy dough that bakes up almost like a pan pizza crust. I always mix a double batch, so I have dough left over for Cinnamon Rolls.

You can play with the flour ratios. I used half whole wheat and half white, to make it a little healthier. You just need to get started about 2 hours before you plan to eat the pizza.

Easy Pizza Dough

Source: Chloe’s Kitchen

  • 1 package Active dry yeast
  • 1 cup Water
  • 2 ½ cups All-purpose flour, or 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup

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bowl

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1. Blend ingredients with dough hook until smooth. Placed dough in well-oiled bowl and rotate
2. Place in warm place until doubled (1-1 1/2 hours). Place dough on lightly floured surface and shape into a disk.
3. Knead for 5 minutes, using the steering wheel technique. Use immediately or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze.
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Summer Tempeh Sammies

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Okay, everyone knows tempeh is good for you. At first, I didn’t know what to do with it. I cut it up and slapped it in a skillet. And guess what? Yuck!

My dilemma in the beginning was how to make it taste good.  That is never a problem nowadays. First: You’ve gotta get with a good brand. Westsoy is the only brand I buy. Why? Because it is never bitter. If you can’t get ahold of Westsoy, no worries, simply fabricate your tempeh into slices or chunks or whatever size you need for your recipe and steam it for 20 minutes. That should do the trick.

Secondly: Marinate, marinate, marinate. If you really want good flavor, I think it’s the best way. Here is an awesome marinade from our good friends at Thug Kitchen. What? You’ve never heard of Thug Kitchen? You’re welcome.

Here’s the recipe (which for some reason has been removed from the site, but you should visit anyway. I forgive you, Michelle.  www.thugkitchen.com 

This marinade is zippy! That’s the best word to describe the tangy, garlicky, savory punch in the taste buds it delivers. One word of caution, though–if you are serving more than two people, double the recipe because it goes fast!
Thug Kitchen’s (Secret) Summer Tempeh Sammies
Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces of tempeh
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Marinade:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar (chill out, that shit isn’t expensive but you can use apple cider vinegar if you already have that at home)
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of your favorite smoky hot sauce (something with chipotle pepper is fucking delicious)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 cloves of garlic

Method:

Cut tempeh width wise into about 1/3-1/2 inch pieces (16 pieces). Marinate in shallow container for at least 30 minutes, no longer than 60 minutes. :

Brown tempeh in oil for 4-6 minutes each side. Moisten pan with marinade.

Serve on sandwiches with sundried tomato spread or your favorite mayo 🙂

Here are the pics:

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Falafel Burgers with Tahini Sauce

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Here’s a light and easy summer meal idea:

Falafel Burgers (from Isa Chandra Moskowitz)

(4 servings)

½ cup Chickpeas, dried
1 cloves Garlic
½ cup Yellow onion, coarsely chopped
¼ cup Parsley, fresh, loosely packed
¼ cup Cilantro, loosely packed
2 tablespoons Water
¼ cup Bread crumbs, fine
¼ teaspoon Baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons Cumin
½ teaspoon Paprika, sweet
⅝ teaspoon Salt
Black pepper

1.Plan ahead. Boil the chickpeas night before.

2.Partially cook chickpeas. Place in small pot and submerge in water by about 2 inches. Cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.:

3.Turn the heat off and and let chickpeas soak at room temperature overnight or for 8 hours.:

4.Should be tender and edible, but still very firm, with texture similar to edamame.: Drain before using.

5.Pulse garlic in processor until finely chopped. Add onion, parsley and cilantro, and pulse until onion is very finely chopped and herbs are in flecks. Don’t puree. You still want coarse texture.:

6.Transfer mixture to large bowl. Now place the chickpeas in food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. Add water and pulse again until thick and mushy. Again, you still want texture, so don’t puree. Transfer chickpeas to bowl with onions.:

7.Add bread crumbs, baking powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to bowl and mix very well.:

8.Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Preheat large heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Form burgers into patties using about 1/4 of the mixture per patty. Pour a thin layer of olive oil into the pan. It should be enough to cover the bottom of the pan with some excess.:

9.Cook patties four at a time for about 7 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Drizzle in a little extra oil if necessary.

Tahini Sauce

½ cup Tahini
½ cup Water
1 clove Garlic
1 tbsp. Lemon juice
½ tsp. Sea salt

Puree all ingredients. Season to taste.

 

Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

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Flipping through the pages of  Fitness Magazine I was  delighted to find a vegan recipe. I was also happy to find the recipe quick and easy (crock-pot), with familiar, easy-to find ingredients. Not only that–the ingredients are easy to substitute–say, for instance, bok choy for the spinach or Creminis for Shitakes, etc.

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This dish is delicious. I’ve already made it twice in one week! The tofu really offers a rich protein source and the veggies lend great flavor, while the coconut milk and peanut butter give it a creamy sauce with just a little red curry kick!

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Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

 from Fitness Magazine

 Nonstick cooking spray

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup low-sodium veggie broth

¼ cup natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon red curry paste

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy or tamari sauce

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 14-ounce package firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 ounces shitake mushrooms, sliced (or white, cremini, etc.)

1 cup light coconut milk

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

6 cups baby spinach, torn into bite-sized pieces

4 lime wedges, optional

4 servings hot cooked brown rice

1. Coat the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine cornstarch and broth in cooker until cornstarch is dissolved.; stir in peanut butter, curry paste, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Add peppers and mushrooms and toss gently. Cook on low 4 hours.

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2. Stir in coconut milk, lime juice and spinach, turn slow cooker to high; cook 15 minutes more.

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Serve wth rice and garnish with lime wedges if desired.

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Hearty Vegan Lasagna: Step by Step

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If you break it down, lasagna is a really simple, yet really impressive dish. This recipe combines everything I love about veggie lasagna, namely the abundance of vegetables, and pairs it with the richness of a creamy tofu cheese and a fair sprinkling of vegan mozzarella.

The cheeses are optional, but truly elevate this dish to the “hearty” category, and will have them coming back for leftovers tomorrow–maybe even before.

Prep:

Make a nice, rich marinara sauce or use your favorite store-bought sauce. Just make sure it tastes really good and you have at least 2 cups.

Gather your favorite vegetables (about 4 cups) and cut them in small pieces, either diced or shredded. This will help ensure even layers. I choose broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, thinly sliced onions, chopped kale and shredded carrot.

Make a rich, creamy vegan ricotta (about 1 cup). I like the recipe from Ann Gentry’s Real Food Daily Cookbook, but there are any number of recipe variations online.


Tofu Ricotta

Source: Real Food Daily

Ingredients:
14 ounces Tofu, firm, drained
4 cloves Minced garlic
⅔ cup Water, scant
⅔ cup Miso, dark
½ cup Tahini
1 ½ tsp. Basil, dried
1 ½ tsp. Oregano, dried
½ tsp. Crushed red pepper

Method:
Combine all in food processor until smooth.


Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, rinse with cold water and pat dry. I used whole wheat.

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Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil

Saute vegetables with a sprinkle of salt, until colors brighten and vegetables are slightly softened. Add your favorite Italian seasonings and a bit of black pepper here. Just make sure the veggies taste good…good enough to sit down to a bowlful of them.

vegSpread marinara sauce on bottom of 9 x 13 inch pan

Arrange a layer of noodles, slightly overlapping

Spread noodles with creamy vegan cheese (if using) then sprinkle a bit of vegan mozzarella (if using)

assembleTop with a thick layer of vegetables and press down lightly to make layers even

Ladle marinara over the vegetables

Repeat layering procedure, ending with noodles

Finish with remaining sauce and shredded cheese

ovenreadyBake 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted

Enjoy!

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Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

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This soup is a perfect blend of smooth and creamy, slightly sweet and spicy. Great served on its own or as a first course, it is super-easy to make, too.

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

adapted from a recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: Red Sweet Potato Curry with Cauliflower and Adzuki Beans

1 pound sweet potatoes (approximately 3 medium) to make 3 cups, mashed
4 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1.5 tablespoons Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Peanut oil
4.5 tablespoons Thai Red Curry paste
3 cups Vegetable broth
3 Star Anise Pods
3  tablespoons Tamari Sauce
1 15 ounce can full fat  Coconut milk
¾ teaspoon Salt (or to taste)
Sriracha (optional)
Lime juice (to taste, approximately 1 lime)
Cilantro for garnish

1. Bake sweet potatoes at 350 for 1 hour first. Peel and mash. :

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2. Saute garlic and ginger in oil. Add curry paste, veggie broth and star anise. Let boil about 5 minutes, covered. Uncover, remove star anise.:

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3. Add sweet potato, coconut milk, tamari and salt and mix well. Use immersion blender if needed, to get to a very smooth consistency.

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Add lime juice and sriracha to taste.:

Arepas (gluten and soy free)

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Arepa is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. It has a great variety of uses and is often eaten for breakfast with jam or split for sandwiches.

I came across this recipe in the latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and seeing that it was vegan, gluten and soy free I just had to try it. I really liked the simplicity of the recipe and the result was a nice little corncake, a lot like an English muffin, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

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I stuffed mine with a spicy Mexican bean and cheese filling, but I imagine you could serve them with just about anything.

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Arepas

recipe courtesy Bon Appetit magazine

2 cups masarepa (pre-cooked cornmeal, not masa harina or corn flour, this is very important)

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 1/2 cups warm water

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

Mix masarepa with salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and stir in the water with a wooden spoon until there are no lumps. Allow to sit for five minutes to hydrate the mixture. Knead mixture a few times then divide into 8 portions, forming each into a ball then patting into a small cake about 1/2 inch thick.

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large non-stick skillet and place four arepas to cook, covered, until brown, about 6-8 minutes. Turn and cook the other side, uncovered about 6-8 minutes. Remove and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with 1 tbsp oil and remaining arepas. When cool enough to handle, split and fill as desired.

Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

 

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These spring rolls are a refreshing, healthy change of pace from the usual baked or fried spring rolls. Chock full of crunchy vegetables and tangy sesame-marinated shiitakes, they set the stage nicely for your next Asian themed meal or can be eaten alone as a light meal or party finger food.

Raw Collard Wrap Spring Rolls

Recipe courtesy Selene Vakharia  www.rawfoodrecipes.com

(Servings: 4)

8 leaves Collard greens, de-stemmed
2 sheets Seaweed (optional)
4 ounces Shittake mushrooms, sliced
4 ounces Snow peas, julienned
4 ounces Carrots, julienned
4 ounces Napa cabbage leaves, julienned
½ Cucumber, julienned

Marinade:

  • 2 tbsp. Ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp. Tamari
  • 4 tbsp. Lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp. Sesame oil

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  • Marinate the sliced mushrooms for 15-30 minutes. Squeeze marinade back into bowl. Set aside to use for dipping.

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  • Put ingredients in the middle of the collard leaf and roll. Wrap and secure the roll with a strip of seaweed, if desired.

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Raw Lasagna Rolls

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Tasty, easy and healthy—these rolls are an exciting twist on a classic Italian dish. Having just recently begun my exploration of raw foods, I admit I was skeptical at first. However, I am so pleased with the intense flavors of foods in their natural state when you have the right mix of ingredients! Now, it would seem a shame to cook this dish and wash out the flavor and texture.

This raw marinara sauce is so flavorful–it just pops! With the creamy smooth nut ricotta filling and the thin wrapper of zucchini these rolls make a perfectly delicious snack or light meal.

RAW LASAGNA ROLLS

from www.nakedavocado.com

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

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What can I say? I grew up like most American kids. Hot dogs were most definitely on the menu. Nowadays, they are definitely not. The conventional version anyway. Every once in awhile I get a hankering for that good old-fashioned frank on a bun experience. There are various brands of vegan dogs on the market, but I thought I would try this recipe because it is quite simple and natural and uses pantry items I have on hand.

These are quite good and easy to make, with a pleasant background flavor of cornmeal, reminiscent of corn dogs (another old favorite). We both actually like them better than any brand I’ve tried. Definitely cheaper than store-bought and you can adjust the sodium and flavorings to your liking.

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

recipe courtesy Heather Bell and Jenny Engel of Spork Foods

as published in Veg News magazine, July-August 2017

Ingredients:

1 (12-ounce) package extra firm tofu, pressed and crumbled

1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

2 tbsp safflower oil ( I used canola)

3/4 tsp liquid smoke

1 1/2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground mace

1/2 tsp mustard powder

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Method:

In large food processor add all ingredients and process until a dough forms.

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Cut eight 4 x 6 inch pieces or parchment paper and eight pieces of aluminum foil the same size.

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Roll the dough into a ball on a clean surface and flatten slightly. Cut into 8 equal pieces then form each piece into a hot dog shape.

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Roll each dog in parchment and twist ends. Then roll each piece in foil, twist and trim ends if necessary.

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Place rolls in an electric steamer or a colander over a simmering pot of water on the stove to create a steamer (covered). Steam 45 minutes.

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Don’t forget the buns!

 

 

 

Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette

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Where I am getting my lean, mean protein lately? Why lentils, of course! These friendly little legumes pack 18 grams of protein per cup. Here is a delicious way to prepare them!
Indian Lentil Salad with Curry Vinaigrette
from The Curry Book by Nancie McDermott
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (or water)
  • ½ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup carrot, finely chopped
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced ginger
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup curry vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Method:
Saute celery, onion, carrot, garlic, and ginger in oil (or water) until soft (about 10 minutes). Stir in lentils, water, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over low heat until lentils are tender, but still whole.
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Remove the lentils from the heat, draining any excess water if necessary. Set aside and allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing.
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Curry Vinaigrette
  • ½ cup olive oil (see note below)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. shallots
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
Method: Whisk together the vinegar, spices and sugar. Slowly stream in the olive oil while whisking constantly. When oil and vinegar are well incorporated, whisk in the shallots, jalapeño and garlic.
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While still warm, toss the lentils with 1/4 cup dressing and garnish with cilantro and scallions. Can be served warm or cold. Yield: about 4 servings.
Note:  If you are cutting back on oil, feel free to substitute water for some of the oil. The dressing will still taste great.

Roasted Carrots with Cumin and Dill

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I admit I often overlook the humble carrot when deciding on a vegetable side dish. Let’s face it, they are cheap and always available, so I tend to take them for granted.

I forgot how a simple vegetable can be so deliciously sweet and yet substantial and healthful and nourishing when gently oven-roasted with a few basic seasonings.

I found this recipe while skimming through a local Portland, OR magazine called “MIX”. It is so easy to prepare and the recipe is simple enough to remember that I know it will become a staple side in my repetoire.

Warning, though, make sure you purchase enough carrots, because I can eat half a pound of these no problem. So, I would say a standard bunch of organic California carrots such as Cal-Organic brand would provide 2-3 servings.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Roasted Carrots

                                                  –From Anne Parker

2 bunches carrots, with the tops removed, sliced in half lengthwise

1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt (or less, depending on your taste)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 handful fresh dill, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange carrots in a large baking dish and drizzle with olive oil.

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Toss to coat. Season with salt, cumin and fresh dill.

the cutBake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender and beginning to brown.

IMG_9622“Be Vegan Make Peace”  Aaaah….Portland