Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eating Vegan in Portland

If you are ever in Portland, I would highly recommend eating at Vita Cafe on NE Alberta. This is now my new favorite eating spot! Everything I tried here was amazingly tasty - and not greasy! They are mainly vegetarian and vegan and have a wide selection of tofu and tempeh dishes. Their sandwiches are absolutely delicious (the vegan club sandwich is pictured above) and they also have a wide selection of vegan salad dressings. This is a great place to take fellow omnivores because even they will be able to find something wonderful here. Ashley had the vegan chili burger and couldn't get enough.

I had read about Vita Cafe a few years ago in an article in Vegetarian Times. Vita Cafe was voted to have the best vegan mac & cheese in the Pacific Northwest. After many vegan mac & cheese disasters of my own, I was skeptical, but they blew my skepticism out of the water. Bottom line: this place is amazing. If you live in Portland, drop everything you are doing and go there now.

If you like Indian food, I would also recommend Indian Oven on SE Belmont. I have been here several times before and am never disappointed. Great portions, great prices, and lots of vegetarian & vegan options. Their curries are amazing and I also liked their Bhindi Masala (seasoned okra cooked with onions and spices, pictured here).

Looking for tasty vegan brunch? No sweat, head to Cup & Saucer! They have three locations, but I've only tried the one on SE Hawthorne. They have a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan scrambles, pancakes, and other tasty breakfast delights. They also serve meat and dairy if you're traveling with an omnivore crowd.

Finally, after all of your hard work finding these great restaurants and eating this amazing food, you're going to want dessert, right? That's when you need to check out Voodoo Doughnuts. I've heard about this place for years, but didn't feel compelled to go until I heard two things: 1) they have a TON of vegan doughnuts 2) their donuts are less sweet than Mighty-O. Yep, I was there in a flash.

The hype was true. They have an entire rack of vegan doughnuts - almost an overwhelming variety! As good as these doughnuts were, they were still pretty sweet (which is too sweet for me). If you're looking to please a bacon-loving friend, Voodoo Doughnuts has a bacon maple bar that left Ashley speechless. If you're looking to please a pig, keep this last one secret because the bacon maple bar seems pretty addictive. :)

Here's the insider info: The original location on SW Third Ave is always crowded with a line out the door. However, if you check out their second location on NE Davis, there's still a line, but at least here you get to wait inside.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Super-Healing Superfood Salad

Nothing beats a good bowl of greens, grains, and the sweet touch of vinegar. You know I'm all about vegetables and healing foods, but some days require more healing than others. This happens to be one of those days.

For me, this week has been all about healing and helping others to heal. Finding the places of peace and courage. Finding inner strength. And being able to find the balance. Healing, just like cooking, is all about balance. The balance between mind, body, and spirit. The balance between anger and forgiveness. And the balance between darkness and light.

When I first began my master's program a year and a half ago, I would clearly identify my life's calling as working to end violence against women. I had studied women's studies in my undergraduate program, was an educator/activist for women's issues at the UW campus, and had many spent years of my life helping women to deal with trauma. My work as an educator about violence and working with victims and survivors of abuse was vital and necessary - but personally draining. For me, there was so much darkness and sadness in that work that it took more from my life than it gave.

As I have progressed through my graduate program, I began to find a new calling in environmental concerns and, you'd never guess this, food. There had always been a passion in my life around food, but it became stronger and stronger. The more time that passed, the more that food became connected in my life.

Recently, several of my classmates have made comments about the shift in my area of focus. This shift in my life has brought me a great deal of guilt. I kept questioning myself, "how can I give up my work with women when there is such great need?" Starting to devote my time and energy to food was a huge shift and it took me a long time to be okay with it.

However, after a lot of soul-searching, I have realized that these two areas of my life are not entirely separate. The more that I have cooked over the past few months, the more I see trauma and food as connected. For me, food is about healing and helping survivors. All survivors. Food, one of our basic necessities, has so many deep emotional and spiritual connections. Just as food nourishs our body, it can shift our mood, and sometimes even lift our spirits. I am fortunate enough to have found a place where my passion for food meets my passion for healing.

Today I was walking past a church and saw a quote about darkness and light that struck me. I immediately googled it and found it in a speech by Martin Luther King.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate;

only love can do that.

Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence,

and toughness multiplies toughness

in a descending spiral of destruction.

"Strength To Love,"

1963 Martin Luther King, Jr.

Where is your light? For me, food is my light and my love. In sharing my food, I am sharing light and love with those that need it the most. Thank you to all of those who are strong enough to work in the darkness and find their own source of light. Here's to your well-being and the health of your loved ones.

In creating this salad, I immediately turned to my typical superfood favorites: kale (a great source of vitamin A as well as iron, calcium, fiber, vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, and E), tomatoes (vitamin C, iron and lycopene - an antioxidant that neutrolizes free radicals that can damage cells in the body), qunioa (rich in amino acids and a complete protein), and red onions (which contain a phytochemical, quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant).

My new fave superfood is red beets. Not only do red beets contain a variety of vitamins (A, B, C, E, and K), folic acid, calcium, iron, and zinc, but they contain Betacyanin which is the pigment that makes them red. I have heard that this pigment can increase the amount of oxygen your blood can carry, thereby increasing the healing process. Sounds good to me.

3 medium red beets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 small red onion, diced
1 red apple, diced
1 cup quinoa (I used a mixture of white and red quinoa)
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 bunch (about 3 cups) lacinato kale, stems removed, chopped
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the beets and trim off the greens and pointy ends. Place the beets on a sheet of foil on a baking sheet. Cover with a light coat of olive oil and wrap the foil over them so they are covered. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until beets are soft, but not slimy.

While beets are cooking, cook the quinoa. Add the water and quinoa to a pot, bring to a boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and then let simmer for 15 minutes until water is gone and quinoa is soft.

Combine the kale, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and apples in a medium bowl. Add the vinegars, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. When the quinoa cools, mix this with the other ingredients. Once the beets have cooked and cooled, dice, and mix with the other ingredients. Serve.

Gluten-free, soy-free

Monday, March 22, 2010

Brussel Sprouts with Agave & Pecans

For the past three months, I've been ALL about Brussel sprouts. I don't know why they get such a bad rep! They're great for vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6. I've also heard they enhance your body's natural defenses against cancer.

Okay, I'll admit it. I always have a hidden agenda when it comes to vegetables... I want everyone to eat more of them! I want people to start loving whole, natural foods and quit all this processed sugary stuff. Poor Ash for always being my pet project. :)

I created this dish with her in mind tonight. Given that she loves warm pecans and sweet things, I thought maybe I could finally bring her over to the green side. I approached her with this dish and was immediately met with protest, "Do you know how many Brussel sprouts I have eaten for you recently?" Yes, I do. One. One broken into halves. This makes one and a half. The verdict? "You've elevated it to the level of broccoli, which I also hate... but it's not as bad as normal Brussel sprouts." Well, agave and pecans, we came close, but it's a no-go. I still love you all.

2 cups Brussels sprouts, cut in half
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tb agave nectar
Small handful of pecans

Trim the root end off the Brussels sprouts and cut in half. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and cook for 5-6 minutes, until they are crisp-tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.

In a small skillet, warm the oil on medium heat. Add the pecans and toast for 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sproutes and saute for 2-3 minutes. Drizzle with agave and serve.

Gluten-free, soy-free

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Tangy Marinated Vegetables

Happy spring! How did you bring in the first day of spring yesterday? Ashley and I decided to be Seattle tourists for a day: Pike Place Market, reading in Victor Steinbrueck Park, walking along Elliot Bay, and shopping in downtown. It was absolutely gorgeous and gave me a much needed Vitamin D fix.

Ashley needed a different kind of fix, the fried foods kind, so we made a stop at the Daily Dozen Donut Company and then Red Robin (you're welcome, Ashley!). I had anticipated this to be the way our food situation would go down so I came prepared. I brought along a bag of raw veggies and then some of these marinated ones. It fulfilled my craving for something crunchy and kept me me from lecturing someone on their food choices. :)

This recipe came from the July/August issue of the Vegetarian Times. I adapted this version with less oil, more vinegar, and less spices. If you're a mushroom fan, you can also add in some button mushrooms. Tastes like spring to me!

2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup small carrot sticks
1 cup cauliflower florets

1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbs dried basil
1 Tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

To make marinade: whisk together all ingredients in bowl.

Pour marinade into 1 quart jar with lid or large resealable plastic bag. Add all vegetables and shake to coat. Refrigerate 4 hours, or overnight, shaking mixture occasionally. Enjoy straight from the jar.

Soy-free, gluten-free

Friday, March 19, 2010

Eat Your Way to Happiness

I just started reading Eat Your Way to Happiness by Elizabeth Somer. She promises readers "10 secrets to improve your mood, curb your cravings, and keep the pounds off." I was mainly interested in the connection between the foods you eat and how you feel. It's a good book and honestly a pretty quick read since most of it seems common sense. (I skimmed it for about an hour and felt like I covered it all.)

However, I would recommend this book simply because she makes the ideas easily accessible. It reminds me of all the knowledge of Marion Nestle coupled with Brian Wansink's Mindless Eating tips. Her suggestions may seem simple and common sense, but they are things that we often forget or chose to ignore: eat lots of fruits and veggies, watch your portion sizes, don't eat processed foods (and check the labels if you do), get 8 hours of sleep, and exercise daily.

I love her self-assessment "Do you eat like a happy, fit person?" Ashley laughed at me reading this and told me the only self-assessment I needed to do was to look in our fridge, hence, the picture above. I believe, just as Somer points out, that we are what we eat. The healthier we eat and better care we take of ourselves, the better our minds and bodies will feel.

Generally speaking, women raised in our culture tend to grow up with disordered thinking about themselves and their bodies. This is clearly reflected in the growing number of eating disorders and disordered patterns of eating we see around us every day. I appreciate that Somer makes the connection between self-esteem and eating patterns. I agree that if we are happier with ourselves and our lives, we tend to take better care of our bodies and therefore eat better, exercise, and get enough sleep. When we are unhappy and our lives feel out of control, we are more likely to travel the opposite road and take it out on ourselves by eating foods high in fat and sugars that only makes us feel worse.

In planning ahead for my very busy (and final!) quarter of grad school, I've been debating where I can free up some time. I've been considering cutting back on cooking since I usually cook all my meals and only eat out about once a week. However, after reading Somer's book, I rekindled my strong feelings about preparing my own meals. I guess you'll just be seeing a lot more quick meals on here in the next few months. :)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

German Chocolate Cake

Our friend Steph is graduating this quarter and one of her favorite treats is the Vegan German Chocolate cake from PCC. This cake is all for her. I've mentioned before that I'm not a baker (exact measuring just isn't my style), but tonight I achieved a huge success... I made my first cake!

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about this process. At the start of this blog, one of my secret goals was to make a cake by the end of the quarter. However, as final papers came and went, I was very thankful I had kept this goal secret (and therefore, was unaccountable to anyone but my own conscience!). Since I now had a purpose for this cake to come into being I had to seize the moment.

I went to the store and indulged in the most unhealthy shopping trip I have ever been on. My cart was full of sugar, oil, cocoa powder, white flour, and corn starch. I had to pick up some Brussel sprouts just to add something green in there. :) Even though I've never put so much sugar into a recipe, it turned out fabulous and everyone at the party loved it.

I looked through a ton of different chocolate cake recipes before I stumbled upon the winner: Joy the Baker's Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake. The cake was moist, rich, and super tasty. The avocado was the perfect ingredient to add healthy fats and the creamy texture. (shhh... don't tell Ashley there's avocado in this... she thought I was kidding when I mentioned it!) The frosting is from the Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. It's super quick and easy to make - definitely the most effortless part of this whole process. Since this cake has avocado, it should be refrigerated, but I've heard it's even better the next day.

Vegan Chocolate Cake with Avocado
3 cups All-purpose flour
6 Tbsp Unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Baking soda
2 tsp Baking powder
2 cups Sugar
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1/2 cup Avocado purée
2 cups Water
2 Tbsp Distilled white vinegar
2 tsp Vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch rounds. Set aside.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients except the sugar. Set that aside too.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the super mashed avocado. Add sugar into the wet mix and stir.Mix the wet with the dry all at once, and beat with a whisk (by hand) until smooth.

Pour batter into a greased cake tins. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.

German Chocolate Frosting:

1 cup plain soymilk
1/3 cup lite coconut milk

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water until smooth
2 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

In a medium saucepan, mix the soymilk, coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla together. Add the cornstarch mixture and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens. Cook for one minute after it boils. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans.

Allow to cool for about 10 minutes (mixture should still be warm) before spreading on cake.

Makes enough for one 2-layer 8-inch cake.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Fiesta Potatoes

Back when I was in highschool (and was a much unhealthier person), one of my favorite places to eat was Taco Bell. I even remember my disappointment after I moved to Seattle for college and found out there was no Taco Bell near my dorm. Of course, now I laugh fondly at this memory since I cannot remember the last time I ate at a drive-through, fast food joint. I'm all about the slow food these days...

The memory of Taco Bell came back to me when I was making these potatoes. One of my favorite things to order there were the spicy tator tots, but my senior year they stopped making these and started making "Fiesta Potatoes" which were spicy potato wedges. I decided to name this creation in their honor.

In the past few years, I've had a love-hate relationship with potatoes. I've heard that potatoes have a high glycemix index and therefore are a "bad" carbohydrate. Being the health nut that I am, I have followed this advice and tried to avoid potatoes at all costs.

However, lately I've started to induldge a little more. I figure that I'm getting enough colorful fruits and vegetables that a few white carbs can't hurt. And once you taste these, you'll hopefully agree with my theory as well. :)

Potatoes (any variety - red and russet both work well)
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Black Pepper (to taste)
Cayenne Pepper (to taste)
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash and scrub the potatoes (leaving the skin on) and cut potatoes into bite-size wedges. Combine equal parts cumin, salt, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder in small bowl and mix. (I usually use about 1 Tb of each) Add black pepper and cayenne to taste, depending on how spicy you want the potatoes.

Place potatoes on a baking sheet and coat lightly in olive oil. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the potatoes. Turn the potatoes and sprinkle more spices. Bake for 10 minutes and then turn the potatoes. Bake for another 8-10 minutes until they are brown and crisp.

Soy-free, gluten-free

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew

I have BIG news. My gym just got cable which means... my gym now has the Food Network. I'm going to be working out a lot more now.

Big Daddy's House was on and he was making Roasted Beet Salad with Candied Walnuts and Strawberry Upside-Down Cake. I was paying so much attention to what he was cooking that I almost fell off the treadmill. Twice. Apparently I need to focus more on running and less on how to make these into vegan recipes.

Nonetheless, this stew is delicious, warm, and hearty. I got rave reviews from a few friends and even Ashley. Maybe I need my own show now. :)

Serves 8.

1 can kidney beans
1 cup lentils
8 cups water (use less water if you want it thicker)
2 medium yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 head of celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 sweet potatoes, diced
2 zucchinis, diced
4 Tbs olive oil
2 vegan bouillon cubes* (check to make sure it does not contain soy or gluten)
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Mix celery, carrots, sweet potatoes, and zucchini with 2 Tbs of olive oil. Lay flat on baking sheet and roast in oven for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, add 2 Tbs olive oil to large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic. Let brown for about five minutes, then add 8 cups of water and 1 cup of lentils. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes.

When vegetables have finished roasting, add them to the pot. Add kidney beans, balsamic vinegar, bouillon cubes, and salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 10 more minutes.

Gluten-free, soy-free*

Friday, March 12, 2010

Zucchini with Balsamic Vinegar & Pine Nuts

I could spend this entire post raving about how much I love balsamic vinegar. It instantly transforms any dish and always enhances the flavor of vegetables. Pine nuts are also delicious, but are a rare component of my cooking because of the price. Tonight I decided to indulge in both.

This recipe is clearly best in the summer, when both zucchini and basil are in season and at their peak. You can also substitute fresh lemon juice for balsamic vinegar and add golden raisins to sweeten this up a bit. Yum!

2 Tbs olive oil
3 medium zucchini, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
basil for garnish
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

Sauté zucchini slices with olive oil for five minutes over medium heat until light brown. Add pine nuts for about a minute. Remove from heat. Garnish with basil and balsamic vinegar.

Gluten-free, soy-free

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Kale Salad with Pesto and Quinoa

I am a kale fanatic. I love kale. I love it raw, baked, sautéed, juiced, blended - you name it, I'll eat it. Kale has a good amount of fiber, b vitamins, and calcium. It's also one of the highest sources of antioxidants of any vegetable. I picked up some kale this past weekend at the farmer's market and it's still sitting in my fridge. It's definitely time to do something with it and I could use a good chlorophyll boost.

I love making salads with kale becuase they always retain their crunch. I also like using marinated onions because they lose some of their kick, but still keep a good deal of flavor. I also bought some basil earlier in the week (all the while being annoyed with myself for buying something so out of season). It was starting to go brown so I had to come up with something to do with it. For lack of creativity, I made pesto. The funny thing is that I don't even like pesto.

I kept asking Ashley how we could get rid of it. Would she eat it? Did we know anyone that would want it? I was in the middle of making this salad and then decided to add some pesto just to get rid of it. I don't know what made me do it, but it turned out really good. Apparently I only like pesto when it's covered in kale (not the other way around). The sweet richness of the pesto complemented the tangy apple cider vinegar marinade perfectly! If I had cilantro, I'd even be willing to try this with cilantro pesto.

1 bunch kale, chopped (stems removed)
1 cup raisins
2 medium apples, diced
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 can black beans
1/2 red onion, sliced

Onion Marinade:
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs agave
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
salt & pepper to taste

juice from 1 lemon
1/4 c olive oil
3 Tbs water
3 garlic cloves
2 c basil leaves (stems removed)
1 c walnuts
salt & pepper

Mix the onion marinade in a medium bowl and add the onions slices. Cover, refridgerate, and let sit overnight.

Combine the quinoa with water and cook over medium-high heat until quinoa is ready. Set aside and let cool.

Combine the kale, raisins, apples, and beans in large mixing bowl. Combine quinoa when cool. Add the marinated onions. Add 1/2 c of the pesto and mix.

Soy-free, gluten-free

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

BBQ Broccoli Pizza

I'm starting to love Trader Joe's more and more. Ready-made vegan pizza dough for $1.25? Sold! I didn't even make this BBQ sauce, that also came from TJ's. The Garlic & Herb dough was incredible and was minimal work (just roll and bake!) for a tasty pizza... thanks Joe! :)

I really needed some pizza this week. Something warm, savory, and spicy. And that's just what this is. I even bought a rolling pin for the first time over the weekend. I had a feeling I would be needing it for pizza dough sometime soon and I was right.

As I rolled out the dough, it kept sticking to the pin. That was easy to fix, just add more flour. But the dough just wouldn't stretch like it was "supposed" to. I knew from experience that if I didn't make it 12 inches in diameter the dough would be too thick and would stay soft in the middle. No matter what I did with that rolling pin, the dough kept bouncing back.

What an interesting metaphor for my life. I spend all this time and energy molding things in my life to be the way I think they should be. What if the life I want is the life I have? What if anything you could ever want or be... you already have and are?

I spend so much time worrying -- worrying about the past that I can't change, worrying about the future that I can't control, and worrying about the present that is passing me by. What if I put down the rolling pin? What if I stopped worrying and started enjoying my life more? What if I stopped fighting with the dough and just accepted it for what it wanted to be and everything that it was, not being frustrated with it for everything it was not?

Maybe this is a little too deep for pizza dough... but I think tonight was about taking the time to be present in the moment and stop resisting. To stop worrying. To smile a little more. To keep a sense of humor. And maybe even to dance.

This past weekend I was in class with my fellow graduate students at Antioch. What an amazing group of people. One of the groups began their presentation with having everyone dance. It had been so long since I danced. This week is reminding me that life isn't about having the perfect pizza or the "perfect life." It's about taking those moments to dance, to laugh, and enjoying the present.

So what happened with the pizza? I went ahead and baked it anyway. And guess what... it did turn out a little too soft in the middle... but it was still darn delicious.

Makes 4 large slices:

Pizza Dough (ready-made or make your own)
3 cups broccoli florets
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 Tbs olive oil
5 Tbs BBQ sauce
Tofurky italian sausage (you can also use tempeh, marinated tofu, or seitan)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Toss broccoli, bell pepper, and onion with 1 Tb olive oil and 1 Tbs BBQ sauce. Place on baking sheet and roast in oven for 10 minutes, turning 2-3 times. Set aside.

Roll out dough and place on oiled baking sheet. Cover with a thin layer of olive oil and bake for about 8 minutes. Add another thin layer of olive oil and 4 Tbs BBQ sauce. Arrange the vegetables to cover the pizza. Slice one Tofurky sausage link and arrange on pizza. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until crust is crispy.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potato and Corn Chowder

Happy International Women's Day! IWD is a global day for celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women -- past, present and future. (You can read more here.)

What better way to celebrate women than by cooking for some pretty awesome women. I made this soup for Ashley and her friend. While cooking, I got to listen to their stories about women activists at UW and how women are pushing back against the sexism on their campus.

What struck me is how women are so strong in so many different ways. We're such smart, courageous leaders in our communities and we can take on so much more than we think we are capable of. Some of the things I appreciate most about women is our ability to be story tellers and foster relationships.

We crave connection. Sometimes this connection is social; sometimes it's emotional; and sometimes it's physical. Tonight the connection was social and food provided the space. Given that women have often been the primary caretakers of their families in many cultures throughout time, I feel proud to continue women's deep connection to food.

4 medium sweet potatoes, diced
3 Tbs olive oil
1 russet potato, diced
5 ribs celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 lb frozen corn
1 can diced tomatoes
vegetable bouillon* (check to make sure it's gluten and soy-free, or make your own!)
1 can black beans
cilantro for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
paprika for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Oil baking sheet, add sweet potatoes, and roast in oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the remaining olive oil to large pot over medium-high heat. Add red onion, yellow onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. When vegetables are soft, add 3 cups of water and vegetable bouillon to the pot.

Drain tomatoes and pour in a blender. Add half the amount of corn and blend until smooth. Add this to the pot and bring to a boil

Add the russet potato and cook for 15 minutes or until potato is soft. Add the remaining corn and black beans. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with paprika and cilantro and serve.

*Gluten-free, soy-free

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fajita Burrito Bowl

I really, really love cilantro and fresh tomatoes. Anything where I can add pico de gallo is a winner for me. This bowl is pretty simple and easy to make. It's very filling. You can also wrap in a tortilla to make a traditional burrito if desired.

1 cup white basmati rice
2 cups water
Juice from 1/2 lime
2 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt

Pico de gallo:
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
squeeze of fresh lime juice
1 jalapeño seeded and minced (optional)

burrito filling:
1 cup cooked black beans
1/2 cup cooked frozen corn
1 tsp cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
2 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
1 Tb oil
1 avocado (optional)

Start by cooking the rice. Basmati tends to hold more starch than other rice so make sure to rinse it several times until the water is clear. (You can also use long grain brown rice if you prefer.) Boil two cups of water in a saucepan and add the rice. Turn down to a simmer and cover tightly with a lid. The rice should cook until all of the water is gone. It is best not to stir during the cooking process. It should take 30-45 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, make the pico de gallo. Dice the tomatoes and onion and add to a medium bowl. If you want your pico spicier, add the jalapeño. Add the cilantro, garlic, salt and lime juice.

The next step is to cook the veggies. Add the oil to a frying pan and turn to med-high heat. Add the bell peppers and red onion., stirring occasionally. Cook for 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add the black beans and corn and cook for 2 minutes or until warm.

In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, corn, bell peppers, and onion with the cumin, garlic, and cilantro. Set aside.

When you rice is finished, combine it with the fresh lime juice, salt, and cilantro. The rice will be the base of your bowl. Top with the vegetables and beans and finish with pico de gallo. Add some avocado slices if desired.

Gluten-free, soy-free

Friday, March 5, 2010

Herb-Roasted Winter Veggies

I could sit and eat roasted vegetables all day long. Roasted vegetables are one of those things that just make you feel good. Well, maybe not everybody feels that way, but I always find them delicious and satisfying! :)

Prepping these veggies only takes a few minutes and it cooks in less than a half hour. These go well with with a good grain to make a more complete meal (I had mine with quinoa). They also can be eaten cold as leftovers the next day. Fresh, fast, and simple!

From the January 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times:

2 cups bite-size cauliflower florets
2 cups halved Brussels sprouts
2 medium carrots, cut into sticks
1 medium yam or sweet potato
3 Tbs garlic-infused olive oil, divided
1 Tbs chopped rosemary
2 tsp chopped thyme
2 Tbs chopped parsley
2 tsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place veggies in large bowl. Add 2 Tbs oil, rosemary, and thyme and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Scatter vegetables evenly on baking sheet and roast 20 minutes, turning 2-3 times with spatula. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees and roast vegetables for 10 more minutes or until tender. Transfer vegetables to large serving bowl and add parsley, lemon juice and remaining oil. Toss to mix and serve.

Soy-free, gluten-free

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


This is a fun twist on the classic peanut butter & banana sandwich. I was trying to think of a way to add vegetables to a PB&J and this is what I came up with. The celery adds a tasty green crunch and the banana is sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. If you served this in bite-sized pieces, it'd be a quick and easy appetizer.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ten-Minute Brownies

Allow me to start with a disclaimer. I am not a baker...

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's woman.
Bake me vegan brownies as fast as you can;
Stir it and pour it and mark it with V,
Put it in the oven for you and me.

I've learned from experience that you cannot estimate in baking. Baking is a precise art and I tend to lack the patience for it. Nevertheless, my personal goal for this quarter was to make some desserts, so here we go!

Ten-minute brownies? Sounds good to me. This recipe came from the Student's Go Vegan Cookbook. They said this takes ten minutes to prepare and about 25 minutes to bake. Good, because that's all the time I've got.

My Tuesday evenings consist of facilitating a group of queer-identified young females at Lambert House, a drop-in center for GLBTQ youth. If anybody deserves a good brownie, it's these gals. Lambert House has an awesome group of volunteers that serve a warm meal for dinner Monday through Friday. But nothing shows you care more than warm, gooey chocolate, right?

Even though I do not consider myself to be a baker (or maybe just not yet), these brownies turned out pretty decent. This is especially true when you account for the fact that I dropped them halfway through. I was pulling the pan from the oven to check on them after they had been baking for about 15 minutes. In the middle of this process, my phone rang in my pocket and startled me, causing me to knock the pan forward onto the stove. Luckily, I only lost about a quarter of the brownies to the floor and everything else just got jostled around. Those that survived went on to bake up nicely. These even turned out to be an Ash-pleaser... well, if you pick out the walnuts. :)

1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup semisweet vegan chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup sugar or natural sweetener
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 6 x 9-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the oil and chocolate chips, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, add the applesauce, sugar, and vanilla. Blend well. Stir in the chocolate mixture. Whip and blend well. Add the flour, baking powder, and walnuts, and mix just to combine. Spoon the batter into the baking pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top springs back when lightly touched. Be careful not to overbake the brownies or they will be dry. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. Store in a covered, airtight container in the refrigerator. They'll last for about a week.

Note: if you prefer cakelike brownies, use half the amount of chocolate chips.

(minus the walnuts)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sautéed Greens and Beans

Today was one of those jam-packed days where you're busy from the moment you wake up until the moment you close your eyes. Happy Monday!

When I got home from work, I had exactly thirty minutes to make a quick meal before I had to leave for a group meeting. This dish was warm, satisfying, and quick enough to get me out the door. Since I was in a time crunch, I used canned beans, but you can always cook your own, which is fresher and contains less sodium.

Adapted from Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes

1 tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
4-6 leaves of kale, mustard greens, or collard greens, trimmed and sliced
2 cups of beans (pick your favorite, I just happened to use cannellini.)
1 tbs vegan Worcestershire sauce

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the onion, garlic, and salt. Cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.

Add the greens a handful at a time, adding more when they cook down. Sprinkle in 2-3 tbs of water if the mixture is too dry. Cook 5-10 minutes or until greens are tender.

Add the beans and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 5 minutes or until it is heated through.