Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fennel & Lentil Soup

Tonight has been the perfect evening. Came home from work just in time to make it to my body-building class at my gym. Indulged in some fitness magazines on the treadmill after the class. Came home and warmed up some of this yummy soup. Lit some delicious-smelling candles and listened to some amazing ladies (Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile, India Arie, Regina Spektor, & Meshell Ndegeocello) while reading cookbooks. I couldn't be happier. Hope you had a wonderful and relaxing Thursday evening of your own!

2 leeks
1 fennel bulb, chopped (I used the entire bulb & stalks, but saved a few of the feathery leaves for a garnish.)
2 sweet potatoes, chopped
1 cup lentils (I used French green lentils, but you can use whatever strikes you!)
3 cubes veggie bouillon* (you can use more or less depending on how strong you like your broth)
5 ribs celery, chopped
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
6 cups water (you can use more or less depending on how much broth you like)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Start by preparing your leeks. Cut off the roots and dark-green outer leaves. Cut the leeks in half (length-wise), then chop into pieces. I like to wash them after I've chopped them because this is the best way to remove the dirt that gets trapped in their layers.

Add the olive oil to a medium pot and place on medium heat. Add your leeks and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, fennel, and sweet potatoes. Saute for about 5 minutes.

Next, add the water, bouillon cubes, and apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil and add the lentils. Cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes, until lentils are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and garnish with the feathery fennel leaves if desired.

Soy-free, Gluten-free (double-check your bouillon if you are worried about soy or gluten)*

Monday, April 26, 2010

Chunky Marinara Sauce

I've been on this gluten-free adventure lately and came across Trader Joe's Organic Brown Rice Spaghetti Pasta. I have tried other gluten-free pastas before, but this one is now my top favorite. First of all, it tastes amazing (you would never think this is rice!) and second, the ingredients are simple: Brown rice and water. That's it! Over the weekend I cooked up a super quick and simple chunky tomato sauce to go with it. I also added in some Brussels sprouts and Lima beans. This would also go well with some broccoli or bell peppers, or any of your favorite veggies.

1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 Tbs Italian herbs
1 Tbs dried basil
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
1 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put the olive oil in a pan and place on low-medium heat. Saute the onions for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and tomatoes (with juice), herbs, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 5 minutes. If you are adding other vegetables or beans, I would recommend cooking them separately first, then adding them in when you add in your tomatoes.

Gluten-free, Soy-free

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blissful Beet & Berry Smoothie

I haven't been feeling the best the last couple of days and I think I might be fighting something off. Yesterday my stomach was hurting really bad and it made me remember one of my favorite cures for a stomach ache: aloe juice. I know it might sound weird, but I've used it the past couple of years for stomach pain, heart burn, and general indigestion. It's amazing! You can read more benefits about it here, but I highly recommend it! I learned this morning that it also neutralizes toxins in your body, regenerates tissues, improves the immune system, and helps fight cancer. You can't go wrong there.

You also can't go wrong with a beet & berry smoothie! I found this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs: Diet, Dessert, and Dogs. It was absolutely delicious! I left out the stevia and substituted spinach for kale. Drink up!

1 medium beet, baked until soft, peeled and cut in chunks
1 cup mixed fresh or frozen berries
3 large or 4 medium kale leaves (or spinach)
1/2 medium cucumber, cut in chunks
juice of 1/2 lime
1 scoop of rice protein powder (or hemp)*
1 cup rice milk (or hemp or almond)*

Place all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth. (Note: if you use fresh berries, you may wish to add 1-2 ice cubes for a cold smoothie). Drink immediately. Makes 1 large or 2 small servings.

Soy-free, gluten-free (make sure you are using soy & gluten-free milk & protein powder)*

If you wish to make this smoothie raw, substitute fresh apple juice for the milk and throw in some raw almonds instead of protein powder. If your blender can handle it, you can use raw beets, or you can use beet juice instead of apple.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Red Lentil Soup for the Planet

Happy Earth Day! As someone that strives to be eco-conscious, I feel a tad guilty that I'm not out planting a tree today (or really, every day.) However, I am at home thinking about my energy consumption as I make this vegan soup... that's gotta count for something, right?

I took an online quiz about my ecological footprint today. I think that was when the environmental guilt set in. If everyone on the planet lived my lifestyle, we would need 2.13 Earths. Eek. (You can find out your ecological footprint here.) I felt better for a moment knowing that my results were extremely low compared to our national average. Then I realized that meant as a country we're wasting resources faster than we can count.

This led me to check out the EPA's Earth Day site where, you too, can pick 5 actions you're committed to that will improve the planet. Here are mine:
  1. Pass on gas! Take public transportation, carpool, plan your day to reduce trips and vehicle emissions.
  2. Learn about composting, try it out!
  3. Reuse. Upcycle! Take something that is disposable and transform it into something of greater use and value.
  4. When purchasing goods, opt for sustainable, recycled or reused resources. Choose items in less packaging.
  5. Cut back on the amount of "stuff" that could later end up as waste.
I'm an avid recycler, composter, and bus commuter. I do try to buy things used when possible, but I have a weakness for (sigh) kitchen appliances. If you happen to catch me in a kitchen store, you're welcome to remind me of my pledge to not buy "stuff." I'll try to comply. :)

Now, back to the soup. This red lentil soup is light and the lemon makes it taste like spring. It also cooks up quickly (gotta love lentils!) and besides some chopping and stirring, is effortless.

2 cups red lentils
2 vegetable bouillon cubes*
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried dill
5 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice from 1 large lemon
1 Tb olive oil
6 cups water

Add the olive oil to a pot and put on medium heat. Add your onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, diced carrots, and diced celery and saute for about 5 minutes. Next, add the water, lentils, bouillon cubes, and dill and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer for about 20 - 25 minutes, until the lentils are fully cooked. The soup will begin to thicken so it requires occasional stirring (or the lentils will stick to the bottom and burn). Add the lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Depending on how much broth you like, you can add a little more water if necessary. Garnish with fresh herbs (if desired) and serve!

Soy-free, gluten-free (double check that the bouillon cubes are soy-free & gluten-free)*

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pancakes, Pizza, & Protein Bars

Since I am graduating soon, the subject of "what's next?" keeps coming up. Everyone wants to know, "what's your plan?" and "what are you going to do with this degree?" In the past, I have been the gal keeping herself awake all night worrying with a million questions and stories in her head. I have never been the person to trust the universe and allow its process to unfold before me.

However, I am happy to report I am now learning to be more present in the moment. Of course, that's not to say I haven't thought about what's next. I'm just not letting the ambiguity weigh me down anymore. Instead, I'm enjoying my life in the right here and right now and trusting that following my passions will guide me in the right direction.

At the moment, the only thing I can be sure of is that the next phase of my life is going to involve some darn good food. So, I'm putting my energy and focus into that. After all, what you focus on expands. My summer is going to be delicious. :)

Until then, a little help from some vegan restaurants will have to do. I have mentioned Pizza Pi before and I will mention them again because they are just that good. They are completely vegan and have a wide-range of pizzas and toppings. I tried their gluten-free pizza crust over the weekend and it was fabulous. Their pizzas and desserts are fabulous enough that I've heard people say, "I can't believe this is vegan!" Yep, vegan food is that good.

Before my class on Saturday morning, Ash and I carved out just enough time in our busy lives to sit down to breakfast. Portage Bay Cafe was the perfect place for this. Their philosophy is sustainable, local, organic food and they have plenty of vegetarian and vegan options for breakfast. You have to get there early enough (7 or 7:30 am) to avoid the line, but it is worth it!

And finally, if you're in need of some vegan, gluten-free protein on the go, Bumble Bars are delicious. This was in my bag of goodies from VegFest that I got for renewing my Vegetarians of Washington membership. The main ingredients are sesame and flax seeds and they are also much lower in sugar than traditional protein bars. Yum!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Couscous & Veggie Bowl

Have you ever had one of those nights where you literally forget to eat? I'm sure that must sound weird. A food blogger forgetting to eat. With all my classes this week, my mind has been off in a million directions and forgotten about my stomach. Until now.

Couscous has definitely become my new fave this year. Quick, easy, and tasty. There also seems to be a million different things you can do with it. It cooks up in 5 minutes and by adding a few yummy veggies, within 10 minutes you too can feed your forgotten appetite.

Boil 1 1/4 cups water. When water is ready, add water to 1 cup whole wheat couscous and stir. Cover for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. While couscous is sitting, rummage through your fridge for leftover vegetables or anything you'd like to top off your couscous. Here are some of my favorites: carrots, green onions, spinach, red bell peppers, broccoli (lightly steamed), sunflower seeds, and baked tofu. Finish with a dollop of tahini, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and a few slices of avocado.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lentil & Tomato Curry

Today was the first session of a 3-day coaching series I am taking. Just to clear up any confusion, coaching is not about sports (well, maybe the sport of life), but is about working with a client to deepen their learning and help them move forward in their actions.

We had an interesting conversation about bodies and body language. Our bodies don't lie. (Unlike our minds which make up stories all day long!) What do you notice when you tune into your body? What is your body telling you?

Tonight my body, particularly my stomach, was telling me that it was time for some real food. The last few nights have been extra busy, crammed with homework and late workouts, so dinner has been a vegetable & protein shake. Fine, tummy, you win. Curry it is!

This recipe is simple and relatively quick. Most of the ingredients are things probably already in your kitchen, making it even more convenient. You can also play around with a lot of different substitutions.

1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup water
1 russet potato, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 can diced tomatoes
small handful of cilantro, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer lentils, water, potatoes, peas, and can of tomatoes (with juices).

Heat oil in pan and add in onions and garlic. Saute for a few minutes and then stir in the spices. Mix with the lentils and continue to simmer until lentils are soft. Serve over brown rice and garnish with cilantro.

Gluten-free, soy-free

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spinach Zucchini Soup for Laura

One of my classmates and friends from Antioch shared with us over the weekend that she is currently battling cancer. She is one of those people that touches your life in such a beautiful, positive way with her upbeat humor and passion for living live to the fullest. Tonight I am dedicating this meal to her and sending her all of my radiant and healing energy.

Laura, the cancer assassin, this is for you. If you were in Seattle, I would ask you to come over for dinner. However, since you are not, please know that all of our hearts and thoughts are with you and you have an amazing group of people that would do anything to help! :)

This recipe came from the September 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times, but I altered it a bit. The original one called for mint, but since I never have fresh mint on hand, I opted for cilantro which was just as delicious.

2 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cubes vegetable bouillon (check to make sure it is soy & gluten-free, or make your own broth!)*
1 1/2 cups cooked beans (you can use cannellini, kidney, garbanzo, or whatever you like best)
4 cups baby spinach
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 tsp grated lemon zest (since you are using the zest, opt for an organic lemon!)
4 tsp finely chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp dill
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion for 5 minutes. Add zucchini, and cook 8 minutes more, or until vegetables are well browned. Add 4 cups water, dill, and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil.

Stir in beans and spinach and return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. (Note: if you simmer for longer, the zucchini will start to fall apart!) Stir in lemon juice, zest, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*Soy-free, gluten-free

Springtime Salad

Spring is here. The days are starting to get longer. Little buds of this and that are popping up everywhere. What a beautiful time to appreciate life.

And what delicious food. This salad is simple, quick, and light. It is perfect for a spring evening or appetizer.

I started with a mix of spring greens dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. You can vary the amounts of each to get the taste you want. You can also add some ground mustard to the dressing if you want it to have a stronger flavor. This simple dressing goes great with spring greens, spinach, or arugula.

I topped my greens off with diced bell peppers, onions, cucumbers, kalamata olives, and some baked beets. To make the beets: 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. Allow them to cool before using on the salad. Beans and walnuts also go well on this salad. I garnished it with a few fresh herbs and some lemon zest.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Leek & Sweet Potato Soup

There's something really comforting about making a big pot of soup. I love standing in my kitchen and feeling the steam on my face as I watch the water boil. It's as if everything else happening in this chaotic world falls away in the moment. There is just me, my growling stomach, and a big pot of delicious soup.

I also feel like soup eases stress. Maybe it's because I love making it. Or maybe because it requires patience to eat it. If you eat it too soon, you burn yourself. If you eat it too fast, you spill it. Eating soup requires presence. What a good reminder I need at the moment.

This morning I was up at 6:45, already in the living room on my computer going at the Big Paper again. Instead of words flowing from my brain about social change theories, my mind began to talk me: Trust that you are doing the best you can. Practice compassion with yourself. This paper will not get finished in one day or in one week. It is okay - and necessary - to take breaks sometimes. Stop trying to do everything at once. This is a process. And this process is about you and your life. Point taken.

I had a different interesting experience today in my research on Carol Gilligan. I don't know if you have ever heard of her, but I just began researching her work because of my upcoming coaching class. What an amazing woman! She is most widely known for her book In A Different Voice, which was published in 1982.

Gilligan transformed the way that psychologists think about gender and female development. Before her, all psychological concepts of human development used men as the standard. Researchers did not think twice about dropping women from studies (or not including them at all). I can't believe I was at UW for four years studying psychology and women's studies and no one ever talked about her! It's amazing how so many things have changed for women in the past several decades, and yet, there is so much more work to be done. If you're interested in finding out more about her, you can watch some clips of her speaking here.

2 leeks
3 large carrots
2 zucchini
4 ribs celery
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 cup cooked black beans (optional - I love using beans in soup for extra protein, but you can take it or leave it)
1 Tbs olive oil
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Slice the leeks, carrots, and celery in slices (about 1/4 inch thick). Cut potatoes into small cubes.

Add the olive oil to a pot and turn to medium heat. Add the leeks and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently because you do not want the leeks to brown. Add about 3-5 cups of water (depending on how much broth you like) and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, zucchini, celery, sweet potatoes, bouillon, salt, pepper, dill, and thyme. Let simmer for 45 minutes - 1 hour, until vegetables are the desired texture. Add the black beans (if using) and let simmer an additional 5 minutes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grilled Cheeze With Brussels Sprouts

There are few foods that I miss from my non-vegan days. Unfortunately, grilled cheese is one of them. Tonight I came home to find Ashley making grilled cheese and tomato soup. The temptation was enough to make me dash right back out to the store to pick up some vegan cheese. I'm rarely eat soy cheese substitutions, but tonight was one of those times.

Still being in Brussels sprouts mode, I decided to slip a few in. Let me tell you, if you love Brussels sprouts, you will LOVE this sandwich. I highly recommend using pepper jack-flavored "cheese" to give your sandwich an extra kick.

Lightly oil pan or grill on medium heat. Add your Brussels sprouts and cook for 7-10 minutes. Or, get creative and use leftovers from another recipe -- I reheated some of these with garlic and it was divine. Place your bread slices (if you haven't tried Dave's Killer Bread - you need to!) and cheeze on the grill and cook until the cheeze is melted. Add the Brussels sprouts in at the last minute. Serve & devour.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Two desserts in three days? I think I'm getting into some dangerous territory here. I hate going empty-handed to holidays and gatherings so this is what I made for Easter at Ash's parents' house. (Of course, I brought some Quinoa salad to balance out the sugar!)

It was a good excuse to spend the morning in the kitchen. Mashing bananas into flour. Cooking quinoa. Watching Law & Order: SVU. Yes, a good morning indeed.

What's your weekend morning routine? I'm usually up by 7, and either out the door to the gym or already on my computer working on a paper. That was my plan for today, but my kitchen was calling to me... she's been feeling a little neglected lately. After spending a few hours making a delicious mess, our relationship was restored and my spirits were lifted.

  • 4 bananas
  • 1/3 cup vegan margarine, melted
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease bread pan.

In a medium bowl, mash bananas and add margarine, vanilla, sugars and mix.

Add flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and mix until combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour into bread pan. Bake for 45 minutes at 325 and then raise oven temperature to 350 for 20-25 more minutes depending on how hard you want the outside to be.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rainy Day Peanut Butter Cups

If you know me in real life you know that I love to make people special treats that make them feel good. Given that today is another gloomy, rainy day and Ashley has had a long week back in school, I decided to dedicate some time to making her something yummy --no vegetables included. This recipe is very simple and rather quick, which is exactly the kind of thing I love to be part of in the kitchen.

What have you been up to this afternoon? Treating yourself to something yummy? (I hope so!) Making these came at a perfect time because I could really use a break. From what? Writing. A. Big. Paper.

I've been partially-avoiding, partially-stressing, and partially-relishing, loving, and enjoying every minute of preparing my big final paper for graduate school. If I learned one thing from Antioch (besides trusting the process and sitting with ambiguity!), it would have to be how to write on flip charts. My living room is literally covered with them right now.

Wanna know the trick for spotting an OD (Organizational Development) person? If they have any of the following (and carry it with them regularly), you've found one: flipcharts, sharpies, large colorful markers, and post-its. We OD people have a million of 'em. I knew I had finally become one when I had to make a stop at Office Depot a few weeks ago because I couldn't start my paper without the proper supplies. Now, back to the peanut butter cups...

I grabbed this recipe from VegWeb. Here are the supplies you'll need:

1 cup peanut butter (reduced fat and creamy)
1/2 cup sugar*
1 1/2 cups of vegan chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 paper muffin cups

*I substituted a few tablespoons of agave for the sugar and thought it was perfectly sweet.

Microwave the chocolate chips for about 2 minutes at 50% power in a glass or microwaveable bowl. Stir until creamy, you might need to microwave them a little more. Make sure you do not overcook them.

Using a spoon or paint brush spread the chocolate evenly within the muffin cups making sure you fill the crevices on the sides. Place the coated muffin cups in the freezer so that the chocolate hardens.

In a separate bowl combine the peanut butter and salt and fold in the vegan sugar (or agave).

When the chocolate cups have hardened put the peanut butter mixture into the microwave for 1 minute. Wait a minute for it to cool and then bring out the chocolate cups.

Spoon the peanut butter into the chocolate cups leaving a little room for the top layer of chocolate. Put the top layer of chocolate on after the peanut butter has hardened in the freezer. You can also have some fun with garnishing these. I garnished some with coconut shreds and others with a bit of rock salt.

Place the cups in the freezer and wait an hour. Serve, smile & enjoy!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Crazy Green Smoothie

For anyone that knows me, they can testify that I always carry around a jar of green goo. Some days it's bright green. Other days it's dark green. The most common question I get is, "Are you drinking... pesto?" I guess that's what I get for drinking an unfamiliar liquid out of an old jar.

Not pesto. It's most likely kale. Or maybe chard. Some days spinach. Yes, that's right, I blend greens into my smoothies.

Even though I can't see your face right now, I'm guessing you look perplexed, perhaps wondering if you should be grossed out or intrigued.  I promise it's not gross.  It's super easy, super healthy, and makes a perfect breakfast.  All you need is 5 minutes and a blender.

This is where I have to do a little product promotion... have you ever heard of a Vitamix blender? It will change your life and you will never be the same again. You can mix, blend, liquefy anything. It's amazing... believe all the good things you see and hear. Also, there are no chunks, promise! If you blend it correctly, all the stems of greens or seeds from fruit become liquid. (Even I would have to draw the line at a green, chunky smoothie.)

On a non-food note, I have to recommend a book I'm reading: Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson. I'm taking a coaching course in a few weeks and this was on the reading list. If you are interested in changing your life and becoming more open to possibility, I would recommend this book. You can also check out their website here.

Your "gremlin" is the negative voice inside your head. From my perspective, gremlin-taming is a process of becoming more aware of yourself and through being aware of your thoughts and actions, creating the life you want to be living. I have to share this one part that really struck me today. Carson has a list of "rules" that are bound to lead to disappointment and unfulfilling relationships. One of them is: "Lead your life in accordance with rules and regulations, and without taking into account your natural desires and the current moment and situation" (Carson, 2003, p. 152).

How often do we do something just because we're "supposed to"? Over the last couple of years, I have become more and more aware that I tend to live my life by the "shoulds," rather than the "wants." And that, ladies and gentlemen, is no fun.

This book is inspiring me to re-examine what's really important in my life and make sure that is where my time and energy are focused. Maybe even (gasp!) break a few "rules" here and there... like making a really green smoothie and letting people think it's pesto. ;)

Here's how to make a green smoothie of your own:
2 cups almond milk (soy or rice work well too)
1 frozen banana (remove the peel, cut into 1-inch slices, and freeze in a plastic bag overnight)
1 cup of frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries, etc)
1 Tbs flax seeds
1 scoop rice protein powder (soy or hemp work well)
Greens: spinach has the mildest flavor and for a beginner, I would recommend starting with 1/2 cup.  As you become used to the taste, you can increase to 1 - 2 cups or try other greens like kale, chard, or collards.

Blend milk and greens for 15 seconds - 1 minute (depending on your blender) on high. Then add your fruits and blend for 15 - 30 seconds. Add the flax and protein powder and blend another 15 - 30 seconds.