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.

 

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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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.

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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Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins (gluten-free, soy-free, vegan)

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The best part about this recipe is it’s simplicity. Many gluten-free recipes read like a science project, but this one has only a couple ingredients you may not already have in the pantry:  brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour (besan).

I could hardly wait for the muffins to cool. The aroma was heavenly, like spicy gingerbread. The flavor and texture did not disappoint, either. Sweet and flavorful, these muffins make a perfect snack or a light breakfast.

Cinnamon Applesauce Muffins

recipe courtesy Allyson Kramer (www.allysonkramer.com)

  • 1 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons besan/chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup superfine brown rice flour (reg. works too)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 375 ºF. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners, or grease a non-stick pan lightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the applesauce, olive oil, vanilla extract, molasses, salt and sugar until well blended. Gradually add in the rest of the ingredients, one by one in the order given. Mix vigorously using a whisk about 100 strokes, or until very well mixed.

Drop 1/3 cup batter into each muffin tin and place onto middle rack of the oven. Bake 25 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

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??

 

Muesli!!

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For some reason I’ve always believed Muesli was this mysteriously complicated cereal made in Europe using some super-secret old-world technique, unapproachable by the average person. Like maybe they hand-rolled the oats or something. Why else would the little box offered by that one brand perch so stoically high on the grocery shelf all by itself with its exorbitant price tag?

Turns out, Muesli is nothing but naked and un-toasted granola! This, in my mind, makes it an easier and healthier choice than granola. Why? And don’t get me wrong–I am a true granola lover from way back before it was cool–but, you know and I know even homemade granola can be full of sugar and sometimes full of fat. And sometimes, even full of sodium.

But this. This is not that. It is a bowl full of whole foods, in their natural state, completely unadorned. No sugar, no added fat or salt. Just clean, pure energy.

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Cooking a serving of oatmeal in the microwave takes 2-3 minutes. Putting together this cereal takes about the same amount of time and you have breakfast for the week!

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That’s it! No soaking, no cooking, no need to heat up the oven. This recipe is completely adjustable to your tastes, with an endless variety of nut, seed, fruit and cereal combinations.

Yield:  10 cups (that’s 10 1-cup servings or 13 3/4 cup servings). Store refrigerated.

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I topped my first bowl of homemade muesli with fresh chopped strawberries and non-dairy milk.

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There is so much going on in this bowl!! So many textures and flavors. It’s crunchy and chewy, sweet and tangy from the fruit and then the little edge of cacao nib influence is a pleasant surprise against the fresh berries.

A healthy and delicious breakfast to take you through the morning feeling satisfied and energized!

 

 

 

 

 

YakiZoodle with Veggies and Edamame

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This is a spur of the moment post, just because I want to share an idea more so than a recipe. Although a recipe is included, feel free to do what you do, but whatever you do…try zucchini noodles!!

Last night, in my home kitchen, having gone through the rotation of Mexican, Italian, American and Indian dishes over the course of the week, I pulled together an Asian- inspired meal on the fly.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned how much I LOVE noodles, particularly Japanese Yakisoba style, which is like fried rice, but with buckwheat soba or udon.

I steamed a handful of POTSTICKERS from the freezer as a first course, then followed them with these tasty zucchini noodles fried up with vegetables, edamame and my secret ingredient: TOM YUM PASTE  Spicy, savory and delicious!

Yaki Zoodle with Veggies and Edmame

Ingredients

2 large zucchini

2 cups assorted vegetables, cut small for faster cooking (whatever you have in the fridge)

3/4 cup edamame, shelled and thawed (if frozen)

Asian flavoring paste like Tom Yum (or a combination of soy sauce, garlic and chili paste, like Sambal Oelek will work)

Sesame oil for saute

Method:

  1. Spiralize the zucchini into noodles using a spiral cutter, or you can also make ribbons with a vegetable peeler and then cut the ribbons into thin noodle-like strips.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute vegetables in a bit of sesame oil until tender-crisp. I start with the hard vegetables first: celery and onions that take a little longer, then add the softer, faster cooking veggies, in stages, ending with the edamame, which only needs to be heated.

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3.  When the veggies are all cooked and hot, remove them from the pan and set aside.

4.  Take a bit more oil (about 1 tbsp) and heat it gently, then add the Tom Yum paste (about 1 tbsp should do it) whisk it together until blended. It won’t totally blend, but you are just looking to distribute the paste for the zoodles.

5. Add the zucchini noodles to the pan, stirring to heat and slightly soften over medium-high heat. Once the zucchini looks about halfway cooked, add the veggies back in and increase the heat to medium high, getting everything nice and hot. The seasonings will be well distributed all over the zucchini and the vegetables. Taste and add more if desired.

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Serve immediately!

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Note: NEVER overcook veggies. Apply only enough heat to soften them so they are edible.  This will give you the best flavor and texture, not to mention more nutrients. Trust me, an overcooked veggie is a completely different veggie than a properly cooked one. For this recipe, honestly most of the veggies could just be thrown in raw at the end and eaten crunchy anyway. Your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Red Lentil Chili

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This is my new favorite stew! Imagine spicy smoky chili flavor mingled with sweet creamy coconut milk, hearty kidney beans, lentils and sweet potatoes. This dish is tasty, nutritious and filling. Oh, and did I mention…it’s super quick and easy to make!

This is one that I think most non-vegans can enjoy as well. Veggie stews and chili are a great introduction to vegan cuisine. Today’s chili was just one of the five entrees I cooked for my client’s weekly meals.

IMG_1938 I enjoy cooking vegan and sharing wholesome food with others. I love my job!

Thai Red Lentil Chili

Recipe courtesy of Post Punk Kitchen

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced medium

1/2 red bell pepper, diced medium

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. chili powder

3/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups vegetable broth

14.5 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste

8 ounces coconut milk

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Method:

Saute onions and pepper in oil with a pinch of salt, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more. Add chili powder, sweet potatoes, lentils, salt and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil

Let boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are tender, add the remaining ingredients and heat through.

Taste for seasoning, top with cilantro and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake (gluten and soy free)

 

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Image courtesy Steve daPonte http://www.dapontephotography.wordpress.com

I’m all about taking a good thing and making it better. That’s what I did with this classic chocolatey favorite. Rich, dark and decadent chocolate cake can now be enjoyed by those with gluten and/or soy intolerance. Add a layer of tangy, sweet raspberry preserves and you just kicked it way up to an elegant special occasion or company dessert.

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache Cake

(adapted from Audrey Snowe’s Gluten-Free Vegan Cupcakes)

¾ cup + 2 tbsp superfine brown rice flour

⅓ cup + 2 tbsp potato starch

2 tbsp tapioca starch

½ tsp xantham gum

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

6 tbsp cocoa powder

¾ cup light coconut milk (the canned type)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

¼ cup grapeseed oil

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup raspberry preserves

Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch cake pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xantham gum, salt, and baking powder. Add cocoa powder and mix until all ingredients are combined. In a large mixing bowl, mix together coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, grapeseed oil, and vanilla extract. Add sugar and mix once more until sugar is blended in. Add flour mixture to wet mixture and mix all ingredients together. Be careful not to over-mix. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Place in the oven on center rack and bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

When completely cool, split cake into two layers and spread with the best quality raspberry preserves you can find. Assemble the cake and pour chocolate ganache over the top to coat. Refrigerate until about 15 minutes before service time.

Serves 8-10

Chocolate Ganache Recipe

Vegan Korean Barbecue

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I’ve been exploring Korean cuisine this week. I am so pleasantly surprised to find recipe websites featuring vegan Korean food. My favorite is a blog right here on WordPress!

I found this delicious recipe at Vegan 8 Korean blog. Click here for this recipe in its original form.   It’s a vegan version of the classic Korean Bulgogi, a flavorful sesame-soy garlic marinated meat dish. The soy curls lend themselves so well to this dish with their firm yet tender texture, absorbing the flavors perfectly.

The recipe is very quick and easy, too–less than 30 minutes from prep to stovetop to table.

soak

Cover the soy curls with hot water and soak for about 10 minutes, while preparing the rest of the ingredients and start the rice cooking (if using).  Drain curls and allow to cool for a couple minutes, then squeeze out the excess water.

marinate

Mix up the marinade ( I added a teaspoon of Korean red pepper powder for a little kick).

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Toss the soy curls with marinade and onions

cook

Saute until onions and soy curls are lightly browned and sauce thickens.

beforeReady to Serve

Click here for the full recipe!

 

Tempeh-Walnut Meatballs

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I have tried various combinations of grains, beans and nuts that call themselves meatballs, but these actually taste like the real deal.

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Sure, you can go to your local Whole Foods and pick up frozen Gardein meatballs which are pretty tasty, but they are highly processed. When you have a little extra time, this recipe is worth the bit of effort it takes to create a tasty whole food, plant-based meatball that pairs perfectly with your favorite marinara sauce.

Tempeh-Walnut Meatballs

  • 8 ounces Tempeh
  • 1 cup Walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. Nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp. Parsley, fresh
  • ½ tsp. Oregano, dried
  • ½ tsp. Basil, dried
  • ½ tsp. Thyme, dried
  • 4 cloves Garlic , rough chopped
  • ½ cup Onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. Tamari
  • 2 tbsp. Water
  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees:
2. Steam tempeh: Using a steamer basket, steam tempeh for 25 minutes to soften. Let it cool.
3. Process ingredients: In food processor, combine walnuts and remaining ingredients until you have a semi-moist meal.
4. In a bowl, crumble the steamed tempeh with your hands until there are no big chunks left.
5. Add the mixture from the food processor into the bowl with the tempeh and mash together with your hands.
6. Form into balls about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. : Oil a baking sheet. Place balls and coat with a bit more oil and bake for 30 minutes.
Servings/Yield: 5 servings | 20 balls
Source: Sexy Vegan
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Tempeh Meatloaf II

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Image courtesy Chef Melanie daPonte

I don’t hear much talk of tempeh these days–but lest it be forgotten, tempeh is a wonderful source of protein and texture for those transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Tempeh is made from whole soybeans and is way less processed than tofu, so it is a great plant-based, whole food product.

Over the years, I have tried  more than a few vegan loaf recipes and I keep coming back to the same few over and over. These are the ones that make it to the blog.

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I don’t know what’s taken me so long to add this one. It comes from the Everyday Happy Herbivore Cookbook by Lindsay Nixon. It holds together exceptionally well, due to the addition of quick-cooking oats (which also makes it gluten-free, if you buy the gf certified oats).

It has a great flavor and I like to add a tomato glaze, making it more like the kind I grew up with. There is no added oil, so that’s also another plus. This loaf makes great sandwiches as well.

Enjoy!

Tempeh Meatloaf

1 c instant oats

1 8-oz pkg tempeh, shredded, using a cheese grater

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 tbsp ketchup

2 tbsp yellow mustard

2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1⁄2 tsp browning sauce (optional)

Tomato glaze (optional, see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a standard bread pan and set aside. Mix all ingredients together and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer to the bread pan and pack it down tightly, making sure it gets into the corners. Top with tomato glaze, if using. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until firm and golden. Let cool for 10 minutes before trying to pry it out and cutting slices. The longer you wait, the better it will hold.

Tomato Glaze

2 tbsp ketchup

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

Blend together and spread over top of loaf before baking

Images courtesy Chef Melanie daPonte

Eggless Tofu Salad

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This is a quick and easy sandwich filling and certainly one of my husband Steve’s favorites. He’s what I lovingly refer to as a “meat and potatoes” vegan, and so am I, to some extent. We were both raised on the standard American diet which included familiar lunchbox staples such as tuna fish, chicken and egg salad sandwiches. We like veganized versions of homestyle, familiar dishes we grew up on as well as some of the more modern veggie dishes.

Interesting thing about these fillings, they are all made pretty much the same. This recipe is adaptable to chicken substitutes like soy curls and seitan and also mashed chickpeas that can stand in for tuna fish.

So this is my version, and I think it’s pretty darn close to the original in terms of flavor. I like a few high notes–sweet relish, tangy onion, crunchy celery and lots of black pepper. All of these ingredients are adjustable to suit your taste, so give it a try!

Eggless Tofu Salad

Recipe by Melanie daPonte

14 ounces Tofu, extra firm, drained
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tbsp. Sweet relish
1 stalk Celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp. Red onion, finely chopped
½ tsp. Turmeric
1 tsp. Dill, dried
¼ tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

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Drain tofu, squeezing out any excess liquid. Crumble with hands into large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and blend well to incorporate to a smooth, spreadable consistency.

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I cannot stress enough the importance of tasting for seasoning. If you like more salt, add it now. If you like it sweeter, add more relish, etc. Make this recipe your own, and you won’t regret it.

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Indian Besan Omelet with Chickpeas,Tomato and Shallots

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Tender and tasty, spiced with garam masala and speckled with fresh tomato and green chiles, these delicious, high-protein Indian pancakes provide the perfect accompaniment to a meal with a smear of good green chutney or they can provide the base for the meal itself!  Way beyond roti or naan bread, these are full of flavor– soft and pliable, great for folding over and stuffing with even more Indian goodness.

I am finally digging into Madhur Jaffrey’s gorgeous cookbook, Vegetarian India: A Journey Through The Best of Indian Home Cooking, and last night I prepared Chickpeas in  Cilantro Sauce and Chickpea Flour (aka besan) and Tomato Pancakes. The meal itself was okay, not quite as intensely flavorful as other dishes I have tried, but I had a whole mess of chickpeas already cooked and ready to go, so I gave the recipe a try. The real star of the show, however, were the pancakes!

This morning I had batter left over and cooked up one for breakfast, omelet style. I reheated chickpeas from last night and mashed them a bit, rolling them up with fresh  sliced tomato and then used that hot skillet to char up a few slices of shallot hanging around in the fridge. Brilliant!!

I can see this versatile bread becoming part of my regular meal rotation. I hope you give it  a try!

Chickpea Flour and Tomato Pancakes (by Madhur Jaffrey)

Note: The method is briefly and loosely translated here and not written true to the original. In other words, this is how I did it and it came out great.

1 cup chickpea flour

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground turmeric

1/4 tsp. nice red chili powder

*Generous pinch of ground asafetida (hing powder)

1/4 tsp. garam masala

1 cup tomato, finely diced

1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced

1 fresh hot green chili, finely chopped

About 3 tbsp. olive of peanut oil

Method:

Mix all dry ingredients together with a whisk, removing lumps. Pulse fresh tomato, onion and chile to fine dice. Blend dry ingredients along with enough water to make a thin, crepe-like batter, about 1 1/4 cups. Press out any lumps.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tsp. oil. Measure 1/3 cup batter and pour on hot oiled pan, spreading thinly, as in making crepes. The cake will puff a little as it cooks. When dry-looking on the surface, carefully run a thin metal spatula around the edges, then turn and cook on the other side, about 1-2 minutes.

Serve with a meal or stuff with flavorful fillings and fold over, omelet-style.

Yield: 6 servings

*Asafetida, also known as Hing powder is available at Indian Grocery stores and online.  Some Oriental markets may carry it as well. However, it is often way over-priced online. I bought a nice little jar for under $3 at the Indian Grocery.

 

Almond Ginger Cookies (Gluten and soy free)

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Finally! A moist, chewy, gluten-free cookie made with whole, natural ingredients. I love this recipe because it is simple and easy–no science project here, just straightforward mix and bake.

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I found this recipe video by Emily Phares online and it made me laugh. The girls were so cute, I just had to give it a try

 

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

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Yes, all you gluten-free vegans, you CAN have your cake and eat it too! They said it couldn’t be done, but here it is–a delicious, moist, sweet carrot cake, that tastes in my opinion, even better than conventional.

Here’s the secret–superfine brown rice flour. I know it’s pricey, but trust me it’s worth it. The texture is light, not the least bit grainy like regular brown rice flour. I purchased a 3 lb. bag through Amazon.com for about $15.

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

from “Gluten-Free Vegan Cupcakes” by Audrey Snowe

1 cup plus 1 tbsp. Superfine brown rice flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp. Potato starch

2 tbsp. Tapioca starch

1/2 tsp. Xanthan gum

2 tsp. Baking powder

1/4 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 cup Almond milk

1 cup shredded Carrots

1/3 cup Orange juice

1/4 cup canned pureed Pumpkin

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded Coconut

1/2 cup chopped Walnuts

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1 tbsp. Maple syrup

2 tbsp. Canola oil

1 cup sugar

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Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 12 muffin cups. Whisk together dry ingredients except sugar and set aside. Combine all wet ingredients well then add the sugar and whisk until thoroughly combined. Gently fold the DRY into the WET ingredients careful not to over mix.

Fold in the nuts, coconut and raisins, if using.

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Scoop batter in muffin cups with an ice cream scoop. Bake in the middle oven rack for 20 minutes–using the toothpick test. It should have just a bit of crumb adhering to it. Be careful not to over bake.

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Meanwhile prepare the frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1/2 cup Non-dairy margarine

1/2 cup Shortening

1/2 cup Powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

1/4 cup Non-dairy milk

Pinch of salt

Method:

In a large electric mixer bowl with paddle attachment, cream the shortening and margarine together until smooth and well combined. Next, incorporate the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time, until well blended. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl so there are no lumps hanging around later. Beat in the milk and vanilla with a pinch of salt until smooth and fluffy.

Makes plenty of frosting (about 4 cups) for 12 cupcakes with some leftover for next time. This frosting freezes very well in an airtight container. Just make sure it is completely thawed before using.

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Buffalo Tempeh Caesar Wrap

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Way back when before I went vegan (BV) my favorite lunchtime meal was a big Caesar salad with grilled or blackened chicken or fish. Later on, it was the Buffalo Chicken Caesar Wrap, sometimes found as a lunch special on menus. I love the contrast of the creamy tangy dressing and crunchy Romaine lettuce against the spicy cayenne pepper sauce.

Now I have finally found an excellent vegan Caesar salad dressing, courtesy of Roberto Martin, Ellen DeGeneres’ personal chef,  and an excellent vegan Buffalo sauce recipe from The Post Punk Kitchen that tastes EXACTLY like restaurant-style, the two worlds have come together in my NEW favorite lunch!

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Tempeh is one of the very best plant-based sources of protein. I find WestSoy brand very mild, without the bitterness sometimes associated with tempeh. It also helps to steam tempeh before combining with sauces and marinades to improve texture and flavor.

Caesar Dressing

From Vegan Cooking for Carnivores

Note: This recipe makes alot of dressing (2 1/2 cups). A tablespoon of this intensely flavorful dressing goes a long way, so I cut the recipe in half when I make it.

Ingredients:

Juice of 2 lemons

3 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tablespoons capers, packed in brine

Dash of caper brine from the jar

4 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (preferably Annie’s)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)

1 1/2 cups vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

3 ounces good-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Method:

Place all the ingredients in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth. Use immediately, or store the dressing in a squeeze bottle or glass container with an airtight lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Here’s a link to the Post Punk Kitchen’s Buffalo Tempeh recipe http://www.theppk.com/2013/07/ranch-salad-with-buffalo-tempeh/

Cashew Queso

ChipsThink you have to give up nachos on a vegan diet? Think again.

There are so many creative and healthy ways to dress up the basic corn chip. Since going vegan I am always on the lookout for a new version of cheezy sauce. I think I found my new favorite.

Isa Chandra Moscowitz is one of my very favorite cookbook authors. Her recipes are straightforward and easy to execute–no weird exotic ingredients to hunt for at the health food store. Just real foods, real simple, real tasty.

The recipe can be found here on the Post Punk Kitchen website. This site offers a wealth of varied recipes, all vegan.

Sauce

This queso starts with soaked cashews, blended smooth with sautéed onions, peppers, garlic and Mexican spices. The sauce is then cooked on the stove for 20 minutes. Trust me, the deep flavor is worth the stir-time. I found it rather relaxing.

Nachos

I like to spread out a layer of refried beans mixed with whole pintos and salsa, then heat it up, adding the sauce and whatever toppings I have on hand. This works great for dipping, rather than pouring over all the chips, which tends to make them soggy.

Veggies and Dumplings

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This one will be familiar to those of you who grew up in the south, or grew up enjoying southern food. My Nana taught me to make old-fashioned dumplings and gravy when I was a child, and it still says down-home comfort to me.

Today’s dish reflects a more enlightened approach: more veggies and gluten-free. This recipe, adapted from “Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats” by Allyson Kramer is flawless.

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Veggies and Dumplings

Boil 4 cups vegetable broth

 Add:

½ large zucchini, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds

½ Vidalia onion, chopped

1 3/4 oz. Shittake mushrooms, chopped

1 1/2 oz. Cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Add and return to boil:

½ tablespoon dried sage

½ cup corn kernals, fresh or frozen

1 cup shelled edamame, thawed

Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

 Make dumplings:

2.5 cups bizquix mix (see recipe below)

¾ c non-dairy milk

Make 10 dumplings (golf ball sized) and drop into stew ( I use a small ice cream scoop). Cover and reduce to medium-low.  Cook 10 minutes, until firm.

If the broth does not thicken, you may add a cornstarch slurry, but I found the stew magically thickens on its own.

Slurry:

1 T cornstarch

1/8 cup cold water

Note: When reheating, do not heat to piping hot, as it will turn the dumplings soggy. Heat only until warm enough to be palatable.

Bizquix Mix (Gluten free baking mix) 

3 cups superfine brown rice flour

1 ½ cups sorghum flour

¾ cup potato starch

¼ cup tapioca starch

1 t zanthan gum

½ t sea salt

1 ¼ t baking soda

3 T baking powder

1 cup coconut oil, slightly softened, not liquified.

Mix coconut oil into dry ingredients until crumbly. Cover and chill in fridge for a few hours until cold. Pulse in processor until uniform fine mixture. Store in airtight container up to 3 weeks.