Vegan Sweet Rolls with Fruit Filling

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Times like these, I am sure your family is thankful they live with someone who enjoys cooking. And it’s times like these that people like me are thankful they have something useful (and fun) to do in the comfort of their own home!

So, how are you all holding up? We are only making one trip per week for food shopping, so I’m really getting creative in the kitchen. Letting the larder run down. Using up my odds and ends.

This project began with me staring at a jar of sweet, sticky organic dried plums I had sitting in the fridge. Last week, I remembered finding myself lusting over the cover of the latest Bon Appetit magazine featuring a gorgeous closeup of a pan of cinnamon rolls.

I checked out the recipe inside and discovered the filling was made from dates. I thought my dried plums would sub just fine, here. Instead of using Bon Appetit’s conventional recipe for the dough, I turned to Tasty’s vegan version found here.

So, I used Tasty’s recipes for the dough and the icing, then instead of the butter, brown sugar cinnamon filling–I used the fruit filling below.


A nice change from the typical brown sugar cinnamon flavor, I find this simple, no-cook filling exceptionally yummy and a great way to use up dried fruit hanging around. I suppose you could use any filling here and make it your own.

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Dried Fruit Filling

2 cups pitted dried plums (prunes) or 1 cup chopped, pitted Medjool dates

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 cup dark brown sugar (for assembly)

Method:

Soak fruit in hot water for 30-45 minutes, then drain and combine in food processor with  other ingredients (except brown sugar). Mixture should become a spreadable paste. If necessary, add a bit more oil to smooth it out.

Spread the mixture carefully with an offset spatula over dough, then sprinkle evenly with brown sugar before shaping and cutting dough into rolls.

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Bake as directed here. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes and serve with icing, if desired.

 

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Deli Style Tuna Salad (Fish-Free)

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Having gone plant-based about eight years ago, I had actually forgotten about fish as food. But, when I read about this new product, well–I must admit, the food memories come flooding back:

A Subway 6-inch tuna (just albacore and mayo) on whole wheat roll with a bag of Doritos, my reward after working a long lunch shift behind the counter as a ‘sandwich artist’. Scoops of  deli tuna salad piled high on toasted English muffins, smothered in melted cheddar, shared with my best friend, Terri–at the local diner when we were kids. Tuna salad at home–studded with finely diced onion, celery and sweet pickle relish, first my Nana’s recipe and then, later, my best attempt at recreation. But it was never quite as good.

Then there were the Tuna Helper days. So many combinations of silky noodles, macaroni and savory sauce. Later, I would come up with my own creamy béchamel and whole grain pasta creations, folding in frozen baby peas for color.

So, yeah, the memories are there if I reach back far enough. Good memories. So, I thought, what the heck–if nothing else, trying this latest fish analog will give me something to write about.

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First impressions:

Upon opening the package I found the scent mild, briny, but not like seafood. No fishy smell at all. More like hearts of palm or artichokes from a can. That, to be honest, was kind of a disappointment. Not to say I wanted to smell fish, but I wanted to smell the sea, like the strands of seaweed floating in my miso soup. Just a hint. But, no–I didn’t get that here.

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Not unlike other vegan protein products, the bits are kind of hard and crumbly. From experience, I know this won’t bode well for incorporation with mayo. So, I take it for a spin in the food processor to break it down into more of a shredded paste-like consistency, yet still retain some texture.

The Sarno brothers would most likely frown on this, but, hey–I paid my five bucks, so I’m gonna make it mine.

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Now, we’re talkin’. The grinding actually released a bit more moisture, helping it combine quite nicely without being too wet. Here, I added mayo, celery, onion and pickle relish, 1 tablespoon each.

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The flavor was quite nice, the texture spot-on–even with that kind of dry, edgy mouth feel one expects from flake tuna. Of course, without the add-ins I wouldn’t find it as favorable to be sure.

The final analysis:

Would I buy the product again? I have to say no, I wouldn’t. At $5 per package and each package offering one hearty serving (or two conservative portions) it’s a high price/ low-yield way to spend your lunch money.

I have said this before, when it comes to deli sandwich fillings it’s really about the mayo, onion, celery and relish combination for me. You could basically grind up anything, mix it with these ingredients and it would make a delicious sando, in my opinion.

Take chickpeas, tempeh or white beans and mash em up. Take crumbled pressed tofu sprinkled with a bit of turmeric for color–bam! Eggless salad. So many creative ways to include less processed and whole foods in the equation and we know laboratory-produced protein isolates are not the best source of protein for our bodies.

Have you tried this product? What do you think?

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Blueberry Cardamom Muffins (Oil-Free, Whole Grain, Vegan)

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By the time I finish my morning coffee, I’m thinking about what I want to cook for the day. This is a constant–whether or not I even have time to cook at home. I am still thinking and planning for when I get back to my kitchen.

And it’s not necessarily a plan requiring an elaborate list of ingredients, or even a trip to the store. Most often I consider what I can do with the various components I already have in my pantry, fridge and freezer. Kind of a daily mystery box challenge.

I’ve been dreaming of creating these muffins for over a week now. The combination of blueberry and cardamom just sounds so nice. Today is the day.


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Blueberry Cardamom Muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground cardamom seed (optional)
  • ½ cup mashed ripe banana
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, unthawed

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare a 12-cup muffin pan, either with liners or a light coating of oil.
  2. In a large measuring cup, use a fork to  mix together the milk, flaxseeds, and vinegar. Mix for about a minute, until it appears foamy. Set aside. IMG_6852
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk mixture. Add the banana and vanilla to the well and stir together. Incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until the dry ingredients are moistened (do not overmix). Fold in the berries.IMG_6857
  4. Fill each muffin cup three-quarters full and bake for 22 to 26 minutes, or until a knife inserted through the center of a muffin comes out clean. IMG_6860
  5. Let the muffins cool completely, about 20 minutes, then carefully run a knife around the edges of each muffin to remove them from the pan.

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The verdict? A tasty, aromatic muffin bursting with juicy berries and whole grains. Lightly sweet and fat free, they make a perfect snack or light breakfast.

 

Clean Out The Fridge Yakisoba

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Tonight was a good time to clean out the fridge. I rounded up all my pre-chopped salad veggies leftover from our lunch prep and put together a quick sauce to pour over the sautéed veggies and noodles for a delicious dinner and any leftovers will taste great as a cold salad later .

No strict ingredient measurements here. It’s mostly about the method with this dish.

Yaki-Soba On The Fly

Ingredients:

Soba Noodles or Veggie noodles (zucchini, sweet potato, etc)

Assorted veggies, chopped

2-4 Garlic cloves, chopped or sliced thinly

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Canola oil

Sesame oil (if you have it)

Yakisoba sauce (recipe follows)

Quick Yakisoba Sauce

(recipe courtesy Nami from justonecookbook.com)

 (Makes ½ cup (8 Tbsp) I halved this recipe and it was plenty for 10 oz soba noodles
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp vegan oyster sauce (or substitute more soy sauce)
  • 4 tsp ketchup
  • 4 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

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Method:

Heat a big pot of salted water to boiling for noodles, if using.

Meanwhile, heat a good quantity of oil over medium-high heat until a little piece of garlic sizzles when placed in the skillet. We’re talking a good 2-3 tablespoons with about 1/3 being sesame oil if using.

Add garlic and  1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper and fry until golden. Watch this very carefully so it doesn’t burn, but you definitely want some color. Reduce heat a bit, add your vegetables and saute until almost fully cooked (about 5 minutes).

Meanwhile, get your soba noodles cooking and add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the starchy water  to vegetables. This water will reduce a bit and help add body and flavor to the dish. Before the water is fully reduced, drain soba noodles and add them directly into the pan, mixing them around together with the vegetables.

When the water is reduced a bit,  turn the heat down to low. Go ahead and pour the sauce over, mixing until heated through. Serve immediately.

 

The Best Plant-Based Cookbook is Waiting For You, And It’s Free!

 

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“Do you cook a lot?” asks the librarian behind the counter.

It’s after work, I’m in my chef jacket, stuffing a reusable shopping bag full of plant-based cookbooks I placed on hold a week or so ago.  A regular ritual for me.

“Um, yeah…I sure do. I’m a personal chef and I do a lot of recipe research here at the library!” I smile broadly as he helps me place yet one more gorgeously photographed hardback on my pile.

At home with my stack, I sit down in a comfy chair with a hot cup of tea and flip through one book at a time.

But I am not just looking at pretty pictures. I am on a mission. Seeking inspiration and also solid, no-nonsense recipes that I can modify or add to my regular repertoire.

What makes a good recipe, in my opinion?

  1. Reasonable number of ingredients. Reading a long list of stuff I need to buy/prep makes me exhausted before I even get started, so less is definitely better.
  2. Accessibility of ingredients. Can I find the items at my local grocery on a regular basis or are they seasonal or hard-to-find?
  3. Ease of preparation. Are there so many complicated recipe components that one dish takes two hours to cook? Unless it’s Christmas or I have committed my day to bread-baking or ravioli-making, that’s a deal-breaker for me.
  4. Recognition. Yes, familiarity. I have found for my clients, and for my family, we like to return to dishes and flavors again and again that are familiar to our experience. What says comfort to you?
  5. Cost. Some ingredients are just ridiculously expensive. Here is where you have to use your instinctual higher judgement. Some cookbook authors assume that money is no object on the quest for the perfect plant-based meal. Next.

Here are a couple highlights from this week’s haul:

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The Book of Veganish by Kathy Freston (2016)

Why? This cookbook offers simple, economical no-nonsense recipes and lots of great everyday advice on making the transition to a vegan, plant-based lifestyle. I especially appreciate the relaxed language and easy-to-read page layouts with colorful images and text boxes throughout. A great starter book.

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Natural Feasts by Ella Mills (2017)

Why? First, a disclaimer. When you open it up you know you are stepping into a world. It’s easy to lose your way amidst the lush, natural light, the soft-focus images of radiantly healthy women and men beaming lovingly at one another over rustically styled food and furnishings and hand-picked botanicals. You get the sense that everyone loves Ella. And by the end, you realize you want to be Ella.

But behind all the window-dressing, Ella puts out quality recipes. I enjoyed her previous and more basic “Simply Ella” cookbook because she really focuses on creative combinations of whole foods in her recipes. Most of her dishes are low in sugar and oil and include simple, easy to find and afford ingredients, like butterbeans. Yes, butterbeans!

I highly recommend exploring your local library’s inventory of cookbooks to discover the right one(s) for you. Key words really matter when researching the database. Try vegan, plant-based, whole food, vegetarian, healthy, meatless, for example. And don’t give up entirely on conventional cookbooks and magazines for recipe inspiration. There are many recipes that are incidentally plant-based (like salad dressings, barbecue and other condiments).

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The book business being what it is, publishers are looking to appeal to the widest audience, so don’t get hung up on labels. I have found many excellent vegan recipes hiding between the pages of lacto-ovo vegetarian cookbooks.

I have read that folks are cooking less nowadays, opting instead for grab n’ go meals, food delivery services, personal chefs (yay), restaurant dining and takeout  more often than not.

Nevertheless, for those of us who read them (and need them) as well as those of us who just like the pretty pictures, the plant-based cookbooks keep flying off the presses. And thank goodness for that!

 

 

 

 

Homestyle Oat Bars

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I really like those tasty, chewy individually packaged oat bars I find at Whole Foods Market. But I don’t like paying $2.00 per bar!

So, I cracked open the pantry  and came up with my own quick, no-bake version that as it turns out, I like a whole lot better!

This recipe is simple. One you can throw together with whatever nuts, seeds, cereals and dried fruits you just happen to have hanging around. You don’t have to toast the rolled oats or the nuts, but I like that roasty-brown taste. These bars are soft and sweet, without being overly so, with a deep caramel-like flavor from the brown rice syrup.

Homestyle Oat Bars

adapted from the recipe found at fannetasticfood.com

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups rolled oats

1 cup crispy brown rice cereal

Any combination of the following, measuring 1 cup:

Nuts, any kind, roughly chopped (almond slices, pecans, walnuts, cashews)

Seeds, any kind (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, sesame)

Dried fruit, any kind (raisins, diced apples, chopped figs)

Shredded coconut (raw or toasted)

1/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla or maple extract

Himalayan pink sea salt (optional)

Method:

  1. If you like your oats and nuts toasted, preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. If not, skip ahead to step 2. Place oats on a dry baking sheet. Place nuts on a separate sheet. When the oven is ready, place the oats and nuts in the oven. Toast the nuts carefully watching the time. This should take 2-4 minutes. They burn easily. Pull them out and allow to cool. Stir the oats every 5 minutes and toast until they are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. Prepare a small-sized shallow, rimmed baking pan by lining with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Measure brown rice syrup, peanut butter and flavoring into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30-40 seconds, then stir until combined.

IMG_6010.jpg4. Stir the rice cereal, nuts, fruit and other dry ingredients into the bowl with the oats and then pour the wet mixture over, mixing all together with a spatula into a sticky, crunchy mass.

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IMG_6011.jpg5. Immediately press mixture into prepared pan and flatten with your hands. Lightly dust surface of bars with sea salt, if using. Allow to set up in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long).

6. Cut into squares and wrap individually to prevent sticking together. For best results, store in the refrigerator.

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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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Indian Curry Rice with Peas

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Sometimes cooking is the most enjoyable when I really don’t have to cook, but I just want to. Certain dishes say comfort to me and this is one of them. This recipe is not only quick and easy but it’s also cheap and comes together in less than 30 minutes.

Indian Curry Rice with Peas

(Servings: 6, or so)

  • 1 med Onion, yellow, chopped finely
  • 2 tsp. Garlic, minced, heaping
  • Handful shredded carrots (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. Oil
  • 1 cup white rice, Jasmine or Basmati or long grain
  • 1 ½ tsp. Curry powder
  • 1 cup Peas, frozen
  • 1 3/4 cups Vegetable broth (or water)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Saute onions and garlic. Add a handful of shredded carrots (optional).

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Add rice and coat with oil, stir. Add curry to coat and reduce a bit.

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Stir in vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a low boil, then reduce to simmer.

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Cover and steam for 12-15 minutes.

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Remove lid and add peas. Drape with towel and steam, off heat 5 minutes. This will warm the peas and they will keep their color and also bring down the dish temperature and stop the cooking process.

Fluff with fork.

Check salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!

 

Vegan Baking Powder Biscuits

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Fresh-baked biscuits are a rare treat at my house. They remind me of breakfasts at Nana’s. I sometimes do half whole wheat flour, just to bump up the nutritional value a bit.

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

3/4 tsp. salt

3 tbsp. Earth Balance buttery baking sticks, cut into small pieces

3 tbsp. shortening

1 cup soy milk, plus 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Method:

Preheat oven to 475 F.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl.

Cut the buttery stick and shortening into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until mixture is crumbly.

Add the soy milk and mix until just combined, do not beat. Dump mixture onto floured surface and light press it out into 1 inch thickness.

With a biscuit cutter, cut dough into circles and place on baking sheet with sides touching. I like to dab a bit of extra buttery on the tops for a crispy brown surface.

Go ahead and press any extra dough out lightly and cut again, but I wouldn’t do it a third time. Just add the scraps alongside the pretty biscuits. They make for good eating, too!

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Enjoy!

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Vegan Taco “Beef”

IMG_6132Hey, I can’t believe I haven’t shown up on the blog with this recipe until now. This one, from my home kitchen recipe box is always a big hit, whether featured in burritos, tacos, nachos, salads…the list goes on. Simple, simple ingredients, straight from the cabinet is what I like best about this tasty and quick to prepare recipe.

 

Vegan Taco “Beef”

Ingredients:

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 tbsp. cooking oil

2 cups frozen vegan crumbles (Gardein is my favorite)

3/4 cup water

Spice blend:

2 tbsp. chili powder (mild or spicy, your call)

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic (or 1/4 tsp. garlic granules)

3/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Method:

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in spice blend and sauté   for 30 seconds. Add water and crumbles stirring well to combine. Cover and lower heat. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally  until heated through and water is absorbed. Taste for seasoning, then serve hot. This stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

 

“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.

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

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These tasty sausage crumbles are versatile, lending a satisfying umami flavor and a chewy  bite to gravy, sauces, rice or other grain dishes–even pizza!

Tempeh Sausage Crumbles

adapted from a recipe by Lindsay Nixon

Ingredients:

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 8-oz pkg tempeh

2 tbsp low-sodium soy or tamari sauce

1 tsp rubbed sage (not powdered)

1 tsp onion powder (granulated)

1 tsp garlic powder (granulated)

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp dried thyme

dash of black pepper

1/2 tbsp olive oil

Method:

Grind fennel seeds into a fine powder using mortar and pestle or electric spice grinder and set aside.

Shred tempeh using a cheese grater and mix with soy or tamari sauce and spices (add fennel last)

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat then add tempeh mixture to saute, stirring constantly until browned and crisp.

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Use immediately or store refrigerated in airtight container for up to 5 days.

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Note: You can adjust the seasonings, such as leaving out the sage and adding basil and a pinch of crushed red pepper for an Italian flavor. For a sweeter breakfast style sausage, add a bit of maple syrup.

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The Clean 15

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The Environmental Work Group recently updated their list of the cleanest produce, which tests show the least amount of pesticide residues.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyzes USDA data on the chemicals found on grocery store produce. Then, the watchdog organization compiles it into an easy-to-digest list of fruits and veggies that tended to contain the most and least pesticides in the past year.

EWG’s Clean Fifteen 2019

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Sweet Peas Frozen
  5. Onions
  6. Papayas
  7. Eggplants
  8. Asparagus
  9. Kiwis
  10. Cabbage
  11. Cauliflower
  12. Cantaloupes
  13. Broccoli
  14. Mushrooms
  15. Honeydew Melons

Weekday workday lunches are a no-brainer when I take a little time out of my Sunday afternoon and pre-make salads. When Monday rolls around it’s grab and go.

I prep the same veggies pretty consistently with the protein being the variable. Beans are always an easy go-to addition. I like firm, meaty kidney beans, pintos and cannellinis. Sometimes I add chopped up chickpea patties, grilled tofu, tempeh or burgers from the night before. That’s the wild card that keeps it interesting for me.

Veggies

  1. Romaine or leaf lettuce washed, chopped and dried (I use a salad spinner)
  2. Fresh spinach leaves (optional)
  3. Cucumbers or zucchini, chopped or sliced
  4. Red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  5. Carrots, shredded or diced
  6. Celery, sliced or chopped
  7. Red onion, diced or sliced

You’ll notice that most of the veggies on the list are affordable and easy to find year-round. That’s the idea. No excuses.

Often I will make homemade VINAIGRETTE which is simple, fresh and also cheap!

Knowing I am getting a healthy dose of fresh vitamins, fiber, water and antioxidants is one less thing to be concerned about during a busy period of days. And there is never a week that goes by that I am not glad I took that bit of time to set myself up for success!

 

 

 

Black Bean Fajita Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Chimichurri

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I had an opportunity recently to work with a local vegan restaurant, helping them come up with new dishes to feature. This is one of the best-selling specials to come out of this project. The chimichurri and the crispy tortilla strips really elevate this simple, healthy dish into something extraordinarily delicious!

BLACK BEAN FAJITA BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

8 OZ BELL PEPPERS, MIX, RED, GREEN, YELLOW
2 OZ ONION, RED, JULIENNED
⅔ CUP BLACK BEANS, COOKED
2 CUPS QUINOA, COOKED
2 TBSP OLIVE OIL
2 CORN TORTILLAS, JULIENNED
½ cup CHIMICHURRI (recipe follows)
2 tbsp. CILANTRO, FRESH, CHOPPED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE CHIMICHURRI AND SET ASIDE.:
2.PREPARE BEANS AND QUINOA, KEEPING WARM FOR SERVICE.:
3.FRY JULIENNED TORTILLA STRIPS IN HOT OIL UNTIL CRISP. DRAIN AND SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH SALT.:
4.SAUTE/STIR-FRY BELL PEPPERS OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL COLOR BRIGHTENS AND THEY SOFTEN SLIGHTLY. ADD ONIONS AND CONTINUE TO SAUTE UNTIL TRANSLUSCENT. :
5.PLACE 1 CUP QUINOA IN A BOWL. TOP WITH FAJITA PEPPERS AND ONIONS, FOLLOWED BY BLACK BEANS.:
6.DRIZZLE DISH WITH CHIMICHURRI AND GARNISH WITH TORTILLA STRIPS AND CILANTRO.:

CILANTRO-LIME CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

½ CUP CILANTRO, FRESH
¼ CUP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF
¼ CUP OLIVE OIL
⅛ CUP LIME JUICE
1 TSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP AGAVE NECTAR
¼ TSP CUMIN
½ TSP SEA SALT
⅛ TSP BLACK PEPPER, GROUND

PUREE ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER. USE IMMEDIATELY OR STORE COVERED IN REFRIGERATOR.

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Fast (and Easy) Whole Wheat Bread

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Time was…young girls were taught to bake as an essential life skill. As with cooking in general, this knowledge and feeling of self-sufficiency comes in handy during times times of scarcity.

We can always turn to our humble pantry heroes– yeast, flour, salt, sugar, oil and within an hour or two come out with a couple of delicious, fresh loaves to enjoy.

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Fast (and easy) Whole Wheat Bread

recipe courtesy Vaishali from Holycowvegan.net

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot– you will kill the yeast)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place  1 cup of the bread flour, the whole-wheat flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to mix together.
  2. Add the water and the olive oil and mix. Add more of the bread flour if needed. How much flour you will need will depend on where you live and what the weather’s like. I made this bread on a rainy day in Washington and I needed nearly the whole cup. If you live in a dryer region you might need less.
  3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or with your dough hook set to low speed.  You should now have a smooth, pliable ball of dough that’s not at all sticky.
  4. Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat the top with oil.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside for 30-45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and punch it well to deflate all the gases. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a triangle about 10 inches long. Now roll the dough toward yourself and make a cylinder, tucking down the seams and pinching them in so you have a smooth loaf.
  7. Place the dough in a standard loaf pan, seam side down (most loaf pans are 9 X 4 1/2 or 10 X 5 inches)
  8. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let the bread rise in a warm place about 30-45 minutes or until the loaf has risen and domed over the top of the pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

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  1. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the loaf pan to a rack and let it stand until the bread is cool enough to handle. Remove the bread from the pan by loosening the sides with your fingers or a spatula. Place on a rack until it has cooled through.
  3. Slice. Eat.

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Senate Bean Soup

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U.S. Senate Bean Soup  is traditionally made with navy beans, ham hocks and onions. It is served in the dining room of the United States Senate every day, in a tradition that dates back to the early 20th century.

This hearty, economical soup grew in popularity during and between World Wars I and II. It was frequently served to the military.

Here, I have taken the original recipe and made it vegan, by replacing the ham hocks with vegan bacon, kicking up the flavor with a bit of veggie paste and liquid smoke. I’ve given it a creamier consistency by pureeing half of the beans and I finished the dish with crisp, fresh-baked croutons.

Senate Bean Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound dried navy beans
2 quarts  water
1-2 cups chopped vegan bacon
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoons olive oil

1 Tbsp. vegetable broth paste, such as Better Than Bouillon (optional)
1 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Soak beans overnight in water to cover, plus 2 inches to allow for swelling.

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Drain and rinse beans then add to a large pot with water to cover plus another inch or two over medium high heat. Bring to boil and skim off any foam that accumulates on the surface. These are impurities that should be removed.

Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour.

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Meanwhile, cook the onions and bacon in olive oil until lightly browned, about 10 minutes over medium heat. When the beans have been cooking for an hour, they should be tender, almost done.

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At this point, scoop out about half of the beans and puree them in a blender until smooth. You may want to remove some of the cooking water if it looks too watery. You can set it aside and add some back in later if you need it.

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Add the pureed beans back into the pot along with the bacon and onions. Add a tablespoon of vegetable broth paste and liquid smoke, if using. Stir and adjust water as necessary to make the soup the consistency you like. Simmer for another half hour or so, stirring occasionally until flavors are blended and heated through.

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Serve with crispy croutons, if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

 

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 needn’t 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.

 

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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A very decent, nutritious meal.

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.

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Top Shelf Fruits!

The 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 Pad Thai with Rice Noodles

IMG_1381One of my favorite noodles dishes made vegan and oh so much healthier than take-out! This recipe is super-easy and is adapted from the cookbook “Big Vegan” by Robin Asbell.

Tofu Pad Thai with Rice Noodles

4 ounces Rice noodles
¼ cup Vegetable broth
¼ cup Lime Juice (or less, to taste)
¼ cup Tamari
2 tablespoons Sugar
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
1 ½ teaspoons Canola oil
7 ounces Firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/4 teaspoon Red pepper flakes
1 ½ teaspoons Ginger, fresh, minced or grated
1 cloves Minced garlic
1 ½ Scallions, Cut in 1 inch pieces
3 ounces Bean sprouts
2 tablespoons Roasted peanuts, chopped
2 tablespoons Cilantro

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a cup, mix together the stock, lime juice, tamari, sugar and cornstarch.

2. Heat the oil over high heat, and crumble the tofu into the pan. Add the pepper flakes and fry until the tofu is browned, stirring constantly. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute.

3. Meanwhile, soak the noodles in the boiling water for 5-7 minutes, or until al dente. Drain them. Stir and add the stock mixture to the pan with tofu.

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4. Stir and quickly add the noodles, scallions and sprouts. Stir-fry gently until the liquids are thickened and the noodles are coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with the peanuts and cilantro.

Servings/Yield: 2 servings

Chocolate Mousse Terrine

platedHere is a rich, elegant, special occasion dessert that is pretty easy to assemble, believe it or not. Fudgy brownie layered with creamy chocolate mousse enrobed in smooth chocolate ganache. I have garnished this slice with a chocolate-dipped strawberry and Coco-Whip non-dairy whipped topping. It’s also nice served with raspberry sauce.

Chocolate Mousse Terrine

1 recipe chocolate brownies (here’s a link)

1 recipe chocolate mousse (here’s a link)

1/2 recipe chocolate ganache (here’s a link)

Whipped topping, berries, mint (optional)

Method:

Bake brownies in a jelly-roll pan for about 20 minutes and cool completely. Line a loaf pan  with plastic wrap to extend with enough excess to cover when finished layering.

While brownies are baking, whip up the chocolate mousse and chill in the refrigerator. When brownies are completely cooled, cut into three wide strips to fit the interior of the loaf pan.

Press a layer of brownie into the loaf pan. Spread a thick layer of mousse then top with a second layer of brownie. Repeat layering, ending with brownie. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze at least 6 hours or overnight.

When ready to glaze your terrine, prepare the ganache recipe. Place a metal rack on a wax or parchment paper-lined rimmed sheet tray. Flip the frozen terrine out of the loaf pan and unwrap. Set cake right side up and place on the rack.

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Pour ganache over cake, making sure to cover  the top and sides completely. This can be best achieved by pouring quickly and from a height above the cake that allows the glaze to flow rather than just to rest on the surface. If you can, try to avoid spreading the glaze with a knife or spatula, as it creates imperfections and bubbles on the surface.

Return the cake to the freezer to allow the ganache to firm up well. Make sure the cake is on a non-stick surface such as waxed paper or parchment.

You may wish to give the cake another coat of ganache, depending on the thickness of the glaze. If so, make sure the ganache is warmed very slightly to a pourable consistency. Return cake to freezer, but do not wrap until completely frozen, if at all.

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It is easiest to plate this dessert in advance. Pull from freezer, Slice with large, sharp knife dipped in hot water and cleaned in between slicing. Garnish as desired and keep plates refrigerated until service time. Enjoy!!

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Easy Chocolate Ganache

ganacheA rich, creamy coating of chocolate ganache makes a grand impression on a special dessert! Here is a simple recipe for glazing cakes, dipping strawberries or truffle-making.

Chocolate Ganache

1 can (14.5 ounces) full-fat coconut milk

16 ounces non-diary chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips)

scale

Method:

Place chocolate in large bowl. Heat coconut milk to almost boiling. Pour slowly over chocolate in bowl.

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Cover bowl with plastic wrap for about 5 minutes. Remove plastic and with a whisk, slowly blend chocolate and coconut milk. The idea is to get a smooth ganache and avoid bubbles.

stir

Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, for later use.

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Vegan Creme Brûlée

 

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Yes, you read that right. Creme brûlée. Silky smooth and creamy sweet. And can I just mention, so easy that I memorized the recipe after the first time I made it?? Now I can just whip it up at the drop of a hat, using pantry staples. Sound to good to be true? Well, it’s true. So, check this out…

Vegan Creme Brûlée 

adapted from a recipe by Chloe Coscarelli

1 can full-fat coconut milk (14.5 oz)

1/2 cup sugar

pinch salt

1/8 tsp. ground turmeric (for color)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk, unsweetened

1/4 cup corn starch

1 tsp. vanilla

4 tsp. brown sugar (optional)

Method:

Stir together coconut milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to make sure sugar is fully dissolved.

Meanwhile, whisk together in a small bowl the cornstarch and milk. When coconut milk mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and slowly add the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly until custard is thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Transfer to dessert dishes and chill at least 3 hours before serving.

If you want to dress to impress, sprinkle a coating of brown sugar on top of each serving and caramelize with a kitchen torch until a crisp shell forms on top. Enjoy!

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Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

This is one of those ‘I can’t believe it’s vegan’ recipes! Looking for ways to apply my new discovery, Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, I stumbled  upon this recipe: click heresalted  vegan chocolate chip cookies on Food52.com.

Turns out, these are the tastiest vegan chocolate chip cookies I have ever baked! I believe the secret is in chilling the dough overnight. Also, I decided to bump up the flavor with a teaspoon of vanilla and reduce the water by one teaspoon.

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Here’s the other thing: Unlike many, many vegan cookie recipes, this one uses no egg substitutes, no flax, or mashed banana or xanthan gum, or arrowroot powder or any  exotic ingredient that would send you digging through the shelves at the health food store.

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Just simple ingredients. The cookies taste just the real thing, because they are!! Procedurally, this recipe is fantastically simple, too. A real gift. Wet into dry. That’s it.

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The only real challenge? The wait. But I handled that. I let the dough chill for about four hours then scooped out and baked just four cookies. I had to know if they would suffer for the shorter time in the fridge.

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Turns out, they were delicious. A bit puffy, but still very, very good. Kind of like Chip’s Ahoy.

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The next day, however, I baked four more cookies from the fully chilled dough, pressing each scoop with my fingers to flatten a bit before baking. This batch turned out more like homemade Toll House cookies. The flavor was deeper, the cookie more crisp and brown-sugary. So delicious. So, was it worth the wait? Definitely.

I formed the remaining cookies and froze them on a sheet tray. Afterward I stored them in a covered container in the freezer. Now anytime I want a cookie or two I can just pop them in the oven. This recipe’s base seems to lend itself to variations as well. I look forward to creating more flavors in the future.

I hope you give this one a try.

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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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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 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

 

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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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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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!

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. 

 

 

 

 

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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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.

 

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. :

saute
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.:

boil

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.:

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!

 

 

 

Korean Gochujang Barbecue Bowl

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You may have noticed a condiment called gochujang popping up in your neighborhood grocery recently. It’s basically a spicy Korean ketchup that has made its way into the mainstream and it’s delicious! But why buy it when you can make it so easily?? Try your local Asian market for Korean chili powder, or buy it here through Amazon.com. The rest of the ingredients are already in your pantry!

 

KOREAN BARBECUE BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

1 CUP TOFU, EXTRA FIRM, PRESSED, CUT INTO SMALL TRIANGLES 1/4 INCH THICK
2 CUPS CREMINI MUSHROOMS, HALVED
1 CUP ONION, YELLOW, SLICED

MARINADE:
¼ CUP LOW SODIUM TAMARI
¼ CUP AGAVE NECTAR
2 TBSP SESAME OIL
1 TBSP WHITE WINE
2 TSP MINCED GARLIC
4 CHOPPED SCALLIONS
1 TBSP KOREAN CHILI POWDER

GRAIN:
1 CUP JASMINE RICE, UNCOOKED
2 TBSP SESAME SEEDS, WHITE, TOASTED
1 SCALLIONS, JULIENNED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE MARINADE: MIX ALL MARINADE INGREDIENTS AND POUR OVER TOFU, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS. MARINATE UNTIL COOK TIME.:
2.PREPARE RICE: COOK USING DESIRED METHOD, THEN FINISH WITH TOASTED SESAME SEEDS, RESERVING A PINCH FOR GARNISH.:
3.TO COOK: HEAT A SMALL AMOUNT OF OIL IN SAUTE PAN OVER MEDIUM-HIGH FLAME AND ADD DESIRED PORTION OF TOFU, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS. :
4.SAUTE UNTIL BROWNED AND SAUCE IS THICKENED. SERVE OVER RICE, WITH GOCHUJANG CHILI SAUCE (RECIPE BELOW).

Servings/Yield: 2 servings

KOREAN CHILI SAUCE (GOCHUJANG)

2 TSP SESAME OIL
¾ TSP GRANULATED GARLIC
⅓ CUP KETCHUP
¼ CUP MAPLE SYRUP
¼ CUP KOREAN CHILI POWDER
2 TSP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
1 TBSP SESAME SEEDS, TOASTED
COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS IN SAUCEPAN AND SIMMER OVER LOW HEAT ABOUT 7 MINUTES UNTIL FLAVORS ARE WELL BLENDED.
Servings/Yield: 8 servings

Vegan Samosas with Mint Chutney and Sweet Tamarind Glaze

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A party favorite, these samosas are fun and easy to make and bake. They also freeze well, so when you’re in the mood, prep a big batch and store for whenever.

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Samosas with Mint Chutney and Sweet Tamarind Glaze

Ingredients:

Dough:

3 cups Flour, all purpose
1 tbsp. Curry powder
¾ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking powder
¾ tsp. Water, cold
2 ounces Earth Balance, cut into small pieces
¼ cup Shortening

Filling:
2 pounds Potatoes, russet, peeled and chopped
3 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 med Onion, chopped fine
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh grated
½ each Jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. Coriander, ground
¾ tsp. Garam Masala
1 tsp. Cumin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp. Water
1 tbsp. Lemon juice
1 cup Peas, frozen, thawed
3 tbsp. Cilantro, finely chopped

Sweet Tamarind Glaze:
¼ cup Apricot jam
½ tsp. Tamarind paste
1 tbsp. Cilantro, chopped

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Method:

1. Mix dough using biscuit method (15 min.) Wrap and chill (1 hour).
2. While dough is chilling, make filling (35 minutes). Boil potatoes until just tender. Drain immediately. Toast cumin seeds then saute onions in olive oil unti lightly browned. Add seasonings, jalapeno and ginger. Saute about 1 minute then add the water and stir until most of water is absorbed. Preheat oven to 400.
3. Finish with peas, lemon juice and cilantro. Taste for seasonings, then immediately transfer to container or sheet tray and quick-chill in freezer.
4. Form and Fill (30 minutes). Roll out dough one half at a time on lightly floured surface into a large rectangle, large enough to fold lengthwise into thirds, then cut on the folds. From the three strips, cut squares, about 2 x 2 each. Spoon about 1/2 to 1 tbsp filling into the center and fold over diagonally. Press edges with a fork to seal.
5. Make dipping sauce (5 minutes). Mix together first two ingredients on the stove to warm together. Run through a sieve or puree in bullet then add cilantro. Taste for salt.
6. Bake on parchment sheet tray for 20 minutes. Cool about 5 minutes before serving.

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Recipe takes 1 1/2 hours to complete. Add additional 30 minutes (roll, form and fill) for doubling and another 30 minutes for every multiple after that.

Mint Chutney

recipe courtesy foodviva.com

Throw all this stuff in your magic bullet. You won’t regret it!!

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

1 cloves garlic

2 green chili peppers,  seeded and chopped ( I used 1/2 of a serrano pepper)

2 tsp. fresh ginger, grated

1 tsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. sugar (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

1-2 tbsp water

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Peanut Dragon Sauce

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It’s been a super busy week! When I crave a quick comforting meal, soba noodles are often my go-to food. Here’s an easy sauce to pour over your noodles, steamed veggies or to dip your spring roll into.

Peanut Dragon Dressing

from “Isa Does It” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1/2 cup Peanut butter, creamy
2 cloves Garlic, peeled
1/3 cup Water
3 tablespoons Rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Tamari sauce
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 teaspoon Sesame oil, toasted
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Blend ingredients together in food processor until smooth. Enjoy!

Garlic-Sesame Soba with Wild Mushrooms and Edamame

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I love noodles, especially soba. Here’s a quick and easy dish that works for a weeknight meal, but translates just as well to an elegant dinner party with a hot cup of miso soup as a first course.

Ingredients:

5 ounces SOBA NOODLES

2 tbsp. ounces AGAVE NECTAR
3 tbsp.  RICE WINE VINEGAR
3 tbsp. REDUCED SODIUM TAMARI SAUCE
1 teaspoon CHILI-GARLIC SAUCE (SAMBAL OELEK)
1 tbsp.  OLIVE OIL
4 ounces MUSHROOMS, MIXED
3 cloves GARLIC, MINCED
3 SCALLIONS, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. SESAME OIL, TOASTED
1 tsp.  SESAME SEEDS, BLACK

1/2 cup EDAMAME, FROZEN, SHELLED, thawed

Method:

1. Cook soba noodles, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.

2. Whisk agave, tamari, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and set aside.

3. Saute mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and scallions and let cook a few more minutes until fragrant. Add sauce and let cook for 1 more minute until heated through.

4. In a large bowl, toss soba noodles with sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Eat chilled or hot.

 

Easy Enchilada Sauce

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In my experience, you can stuff a burrito with just about anything. But the sauce…now, the sauce can make it or break it for me.

Here’s one of my essential recipes. It’s quick and easy and tasty. I pour this rich, tomato-garlic-cumin sauce  over enchiladas, burritos, tacos–even drizzle it over nachos.  I hope you give it a try!

Easy Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients:

4 tbsp. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour ( all-purpose flour works fine, too)
¼ cup Canola oil
3 tbsp. Chili powder
3 tsp. Cumin, ground
1 ¼ tsp. Salt
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Hot water
14.5 ounces Tomato sauce

Pinch cayenne pepper (optional)

Method:

Brown flour in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly to prevent over-browning.  Carefully add spices and oil, stirring to avoid lumps. Slowly add water and tomato sauce. Stir until smooth. Simmer to desired consistency. Check for salt and add a bit of ground cayenne pepper if you want to make it spicy.

Yield: A whole lotta sauce, about 4 cups, so unless you’re making a big ole mess of enchiladas, you may wish to cut the ingredients in half.

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Recipe Test: Quinoa Pancakes

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

 

Here’s the thing about pancakes…I love the way they taste, but not so much how I feel afterward. All that doughy, sweet carbohydrate goodness seems such a decadent indulgence.

I’m always alert for a loophole–a healthier way to enjoy that sticky maple-buttery experience without feeling like I just consumed a loaf of bread in one sitting. When I came across this RECIPE (courtesy feastingonfruit.com) the immediate thought came to my mind: Quinoa=Protein. High-protein, low-carbohydrate, low-fat always feels good in my tummy. This recipe is also oil-free.

But, then, I thought…how will they taste without any gluten? Will they hold together yet not be dry and weird? Since I have quinoa flakes in my pantry anyway, I decided to see for myself.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The recipe suggests using a blender, so I thought, since I am cutting the recipe in half I’ll just use my Magic Bullet. BAD IDEA.

I would mix this recipe in a bowl, like any other pancake batter. Otherwise, you will leave behind a lot of it, due to its thick, paste-like consistency. I also substituted apple cider vinegar for the lemon juice because it was easier and cheaper.

I transferred the whole mess into a bowl and added more milk and a bit more maple syrup to achieve a smoother, spreadable batter. I also added a pinch of salt, because the recipe didn’t call for any. Salt adds a pleasing flavor contrast to the maple syrup.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The cooking was good. A nice, even browning without sticking to the griddle, which I  sprayed with a light coating of oil between each cake.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

The result? A very good, gluten-free, high-protein, low-fat pancake. After tasting, I decided I would have added more salt, though–beyond a pinch. Otherwise there is no flavor at all.

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I added a little extra Earth Balance spread and this fixed the issue. The texture is good, too. Not dry or grainy or weird. Just light and absorbent. The half-recipe made three medium-sized cakes. I ate two of them and still felt good, not bloated.

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My final assessment:

An excellent representation of a ‘healthier’ way to pancake, but quinoa is exorbitantly expensive. If money is of no importance, and you want to impress your friends and family at brunch, go for it.

But…there are lot of other gluten-free pancake options and much, much cheaper. I dare say, even tastier. Here’s one in particular I like, made in a blender with bananas and oats.

GLUTEN-FREE BANANA-OAT PANCAKES

What’s your favorite way to pancake??

 

I Made Tahini (And You Can, Too!)

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I’m free! Free from the tyranny of the ten dollar jar of organic tahini when all I need is a spoonful or two at a time! What took me so long?

This quick, easy recipe produces fresh, tasty, toasty sesame tahini for a fraction of the cost!

Easy Tahini

Ingredients:

1 cup raw sesame seeds

2 tbsp. mild flavored oil (I used sesame oil)

Method:

Toast sesame seeds lightly in a dry skillet, over medium heat, stirring slowly and constantly, just until slightly brown. Immediately transfer to a small food processor or blender.

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Grind until seeds resemble small crumbs. Add a tablespoon of oil and keep grinding, scraping down the sides as needed. Add another tablespoon of oil, if needed to create a creamy consistency. Keep grinding until smooth. That’s it!!

Makes about 1/2 cup of tahini. Store covered, in the fridge.

 

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Lentil-Walnut Loaf with Sweet Tomato Glaze

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This is a client favorite and a recipe I swear by, having grown up eating traditional meatloaf. This version has a firm slice without being dry or being soggy. It bakes up perfect, time after time. The glaze really makes it taste just like my mom made back in the day.

Lentil-Walnut Loaf 

adapted from a recipe by Jenna Weber (eatliverun.com)

1 cup Lentils, green or brown
3 cups Vegetable stock
1 large Onion, yellow
1 large Carrot
1 stalk Celery
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. Minced garlic
1 cup Bread crumbs
¾ cup Walnuts
3 tbsp. Flax meal, mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tbsp. Vinegar, balsamic
1 parchment paper

1.Heat oven to 350. In small bowl, combine flax and water. Set aside. Simmer together lentils, broth and pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.

2.Chop onion, grate carrot and dice celery. Saute onion and celery in olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes or until tender, not caramelized.

3.Add onion, carrot, garlic mixture on stove and stir well. Add oregano, salt and pepper, then transfer to large bowl.

4.Add breadcrumbs, flax egg and lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make topping.

5.Combine ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes then invert onto plate.

 

 

 

Golden Indian Dal Soup

 

Dal is my go-to comfort food. A warm, savory, nourishing meal, filled with creamy, protein-rich lentils and healing turmeric–tempered with cumin seeds, ginger and garlic.

GOLDEN DAL SOUP

 

INGREDIENTS:

½ CUP RED LENTILS
3 CUPS WATER
1 TSP SALT
½ TSP TURMERIC
⅛ TSP CAYENNE PEPPER
2 TBSP CANOLA OIL
½ TSP CUMIN SEEDS
1 TBSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP GINGER, GRATED
½ CUP ONION, YELLOW, FINE DICE
½ CUP TOMATOES, CANNED, FINE DICE

METHOD:

  1. RINSE AND DRAIN LENTILS. COMBINE WITH WATER IN SAUCEPAN.:

2. STIR IN SALT, TURMERIC AND CAYENNE AND BRING TO ROLLING BOIL OVER MEDIUM HEAT. SKIM OFF AND DISCARD THE CLOUDY WHITE FOAM THAT APPEARS ON THE SURFACE. :

3. REDUCE HEAT TO LOW AND SIMMER, UNCOVERED, FOR 20 MINUTES, STIRRING OCCASIONALLY.:

4. MEANWHILE, HEAT OIL IN FRYING PAN OVER HIGH HEAT FOR ABOUT 30 SECONDS. ADD CUMIN SEEDS AND COOK FOR 1 MINUTE, UNTIL SEEDS BEGIN TO SIZZLE AND POP.:

5. ADD GARLIC, GINGER, ONION AND TOMATO AND TOSS GENTLY FOR 1 MINUTE. REDUCE HEAT TO MEDIUM AND COOK 5 MINUTES, TOSSING OCCASIONALLY. SET ASIDE.:

6. ADD ONION MIXTURE TO LENTILS AND CONTINUE COOKING 5-10 MINUTES, OR UNTIL LENTILS ARE COOKED. STIR WELL AND REMOVE FROM HEAT. TASTE FOR SALT AND SERVE IMMEDIATELY OR HOLD WARM.

NOTE: IF YOU PREFER A SMOOTHER TEXTURE, PULSE WITH AN IMMERSION BLENDER OR POUR INTO A COUNTERTOP BLENDER AND PUREE. I OFTEN PUREE HALF TO PRESERVE SOME TEXTURE, OR PUREE THE LENTILS BEFORE ADDING THE AROMATICS.

How To Make Lentils Taste Good

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If you hate lentils, chances are you have eaten them from a can. The first time I tried them was long before becoming vegan. The lentils were floating in a dirty, brown broth labeled by the Progresso company as soup. I was unimpressed, to say the least.

Since then, however, I have come to appreciate home cooked lentils for the clean, lean, whole food protein powerhouses they are, boasting 18 grams per cup. Not too shabby!

Through experience, I have learned the tastiest lentils are always cooked fresh.  By controlling the cooking and flavoring process can you truly have the best lentil experience.

Here is a simple, flavorful recipe  for  lentils you can dish over a steaming bowl of rice and announce that dinner is done.

 Lentils For Dinner

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Olive oil
1/2 cup Celery, finely chopped
1/2 cup Carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Minced garlic
1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh–grated or finely chopped

1 cup Lentils, brown–rinsed, removing any stones or foreign matter

1 Bay leaf
2 cups Water
1 tsp. Salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method:

Heat large, deep skillet or dutch oven over medium heat and sauté onion, carrots and celery in olive oil with a pinch of salt until onion is translucent and carrots are crisp-tender (about 7 minutes).

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Add ginger and garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.

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Pour 2 cups of water into the vegetable mixture along with the rinsed lentils, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered until lentils are tender, but not mushy *(about 20-25 minutes), with most or all of the water absorbed. You want them to simmer–bubbling nicely,  not to boil like crazy. This will make them break apart and get mushy.

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Taste for salt and add more if needed, along with a generous grind of fresh, black pepper.

*Note: Cooking time can vary slightly from brand to brand, so it’s a good idea to check in periodically and see how the lentils are coming along, giving them a little stir. Pull one out and bite into it at about the 20 minute mark. The last thing you want is to overcook them. Al dente (firm to the bite) is my goal, so I can toss any leftovers into a cold salad the next day.

 

Top Ten Everyday Plant-Based Recipes

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I have certain recipes in my home kitchen’s steady rotation week after week, month after month. These are my go-to staples because we enjoy them so much:

  1. Tofu Scramble
  2. Cheezy Sauce
  3. Marinara Sauce
  4. Buffalo Sauce
  5. Peanut Sauce
  6. Tofu Ricotta
  7. Italian Dressing
  8. Taco “Beef”
  9. Thai Coconut Curry Sauce (red or green)
  10. Hummus