Monday, May 31, 2010

Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole

Some people have "life lists." You know, things you want to do before you it's too late. But me? I have a food list: things I want to make and eat before it's too late! And boy, it is getting awfully long these days.

I decided to tackle one small item today: enchiladas. A friend and classmate of mine (the amazing Wendy!) made some awesome enchiladas earlier this week that inspired me to try my own batch. I also just happened to have some corn tortillas lying around (thanks LeAnne!).

I adapted this recipe from Paul McCartney's "Ob-La-Di" enchilada recipe. I had never made enchiladas before, but these were amazing. Instead of rolling individual enchiladas, I used the tortillas as layers, similar to how you would use noodles in lasagna. The result? A delicious and easy enchilada "casserole."

I topped it off with some tofu "sour cream" and fresh cilantro. Usually I'm not a big fan of vegan sauces made from tofu, but this "sour cream" was delicious. It even got Ash's seal of approval -- which, as you know, means
everything. :) Enjoy!

This makes about 9 servings.

For the Sauce

  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in 4 Tbsp. water
  • small bunch cilantro, chopped

For the Filling

  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1 cup pinto beans
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder or 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/3 cups salsa
  • 1 cup steamed kale
  • 6 tortillas

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF. Place all the sauce ingredients, except for the cornstarch, in a small pot and cook over low heat, covered, for 20 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch and cook until the sauce thickens.

In the meantime, prepare the filling: Mix the beans, onion, sweet potato, kale, cumin, garlic, pepper, and salsa.

Fry the tortillas in a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes.

I used a 6"x6" baking dish. Add a little sauce to the bottom of the dish. Add 2 tortillas (you might have to rip one into a couple of pieces to make it fit.) and top with a bit of the filling. Add more sauce. Repeat these steps for another layer. Top the final tortillas and top with more sauce. Bake for 35-45 minutes.

For the "sour cream" (Adapted from the Veggie Table)

  • 1/2 block tofu
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs canola oil
  • Salt to taste
Process all of the ingredients in the food processor until smooth. Transfer to the covered container and refrigerate for up to four days.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Chickpea "Tuna" Salad

I know this is going to sound like a weird question, but here it goes. Do you ever crave foods that you dislike? Well, let me rephrase it. Do you ever find yourself craving something that you have already tried and know that you hate? Hmm, maybe it's just me then.

I have always disliked the taste of fish -- even back in my pre-vegetarian days -- and the smell doesn't help either. My mom used to tell me a story about when I was little. Apparently we went into a store that sold fresh fish and as soon as I entered the door, I threw up.

I used to work at a sandwich bar back in my college dorm and I would have to smell the tuna salad all day. The weird thing is I started to want it, even though I knew I would think it tasted bad. I finally gave in and tried a bite, and sure enough, I thought it was gross. However, the next day, there I was again... wanting more.

The same weird experience happened to me the first time I tried Kombucha. I didn't like the vinegary taste and thought it smelled weird. But, by later that day all I wanted was more Kombucha. Ashley thought I was crazy. "Didn't you say that was the stuff that tasted like &%*$? You want more of it? Really?" Well, Kombucha won me over, but the tuna never did.

Yet, here I am making a mock tuna salad. I came across this recipe on Compassionate Action for Animals. I really liked this salad, but it's probably because this was very different from real tuna salad. I'm not sure if that will excite you or disappoint you. Either way, this was satisfying on sandwiches and on top of salads as well. I only used about 1/3 of the vegan mayonnaise that they recommended, but I thought this was plenty. Feel free to add a bit more in.
  • 2(15oz.) cans chick-peas, drained (or 3c. cooked)
  • ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup minced celery
  • 1/3 cup minced dill pickle (you can also use sweet relish)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kelp powder (optional -- I didn't use this in my version)
  • 1 tablespoon miso (optional)
  • salt & pepper, to taste

To mash the chickpeas, you can either use a potato masher and do it by hand, or you can use a food processor or blender and blend for a couple of seconds. The consistency should be well mashed, but not creamy. Mix in the remaining ingredients, using ¼ cup mayonnaise at first, and then adding more as needed. Cover and refrigerate. Use on sandwiches or on a bed of salad greens.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stir-Fried Bok Choy

I believe that the most delicious and enjoyable recipes are often the simplest. I love making food that's quick enough to create after a long day and easy enough that you don't have to worry about hunting down the recipe. In my kitchen, garlic, ginger, and onions are my allies. I've found these to be key ingredients for adding quick flavor without a lot of effort. It also helps to keep a few fresh herbs and spices on hand. And then voila! Before you know it, you're eating delicious food and spending more time on what matters -- eating it with those you care about. To me, that's the best part of any meal!

If you're a soy sauce person, you can also add a little to suite your tastes. I left it out of this batch. This goes perfect with some tofu or a grain dish like quinoa or brown rice.

Serves 1 hungry person (or 2 as a side dish)

1 tbsp sesame oil (olive oil also works well)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups chopped baby bok choy
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add bok choy and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ramen For Change

"Fear change only when you stop changing. Without change we cannot go forward."
~ Sam Byron

There's a lot of change coming and going in my life right now. I've been learning in these past few weeks how I deal with knowing that change is coming. I know that life changes so quickly in a moment, but for some reason, I tend to become really anxious when I know that a dramatic shift is coming my way.

If you've been going through the Center for Creative Change program at Antioch with me, my apologies. The last thing that you probably want to do right now is hear about change, sitting with ambiguity, or trusting the process. Feel free to skip over this and get to the broth. :)

However, I've been thinking a lot about change lately. About how I deal with change, how those around me deal with change, and what change really means. What I'm thinking is that change is a reminder for me to be present. You cannot hold onto the past, and when the future has not yet arrived, all you have is the present moment. I know that I am going to miss my Antioch community so much. But, instead of being afraid and wanting to cling on, maybe it's time I sat still and appreciated everything that is happening right now.

So that is exactly what I am doing. I'm trying to spend time with the people that I love and care about. I'm giving myself the time and space I need to process. And I'm letting the natural fear and anxiety run its course.

In the meantime, I'm also enjoying some broth. While all this change is going on in our lives, sometimes food is a nice constant and reminder to be present. Are you a broth person? I'm learning this week that I am a big broth person. When facing stress, anxiety, or uncertainty, I gravitate to broth. The noodles are just a bonus.

I really love ramen. Ever since I had that instant stuff in the package as a kid, I've always been drawn to warm noodles and broth. This is my version - it goes great with some broccoli or tofu. Nori is a more traditional addition for ramen, but I absolutely love cilantro so that is how I garnished mine! Here's to the foods we love that never change and all of the great things in our life that always do!

Ramen for one:

1 vegetable bouillon cube (or use about 2 cups of fresh vegetable broth)

2 cups water (or sub broth)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp ginger, minced
noodles - about 2 cups cooked (I used gluten-free, brown rice noodles. You can use whatever noodles you like!)
2 tsp soy sauce (optional)
nori (optional)
handful of broccoli florets (optional)
cilantro (optional)

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Rinse in cold water, drain, and set aside.

Next, heat the sesame oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes. Then add the water and bouillon (or broth). If you are using broccoli and/or soy sauce add that next. Cook for about 3-5 minutes. Finish with salt and pepper and nori or cilantro (if using). Add the noodles and serve.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Grapefruit & Carrot Juice

Right now I'm all about cleaning. I don't know what it is about spring, but it makes me want to clean everything and start fresh. I think it all started a couple of weeks ago when I began reading The Raw Detox Diet. It started out, simply enough, as a quest for information for a friend. Then I got hooked.

Why shouldn't
I be detoxing too? I thought. That was when all the crazy juicing started. Juicing this, raw vegetables that, eating proper food combinations at every meal. I'm usually not a gal to follow a specific diet plan, but this one intrigues me. When I have more time in my life to devote to eating raw, I hope to be able to get into this more.

The one good message that I am following right now is about cleaning. Not just cleaning and detoxing my body, but detoxing my life. There are so many things I have been holding onto - literally as well as figuratively. What are you holding onto? I feel like there is so much stuff in my apartment that I could get rid of, but somehow it always ends up back in my closet. Well, not today.

What's interesting is that there have been many messages in my life lately about cleaning. When I took my intensive coaching course about a month ago, my teacher told us that when she has a client going through a transition, she tells them to clean their house. By cleaning up their space and getting rid of clutter, they are literally making room in their life for something new and prosperous to come. Wow, have I got some cleaning to do.

Lucky for me, this juice is super energizing and refreshing. My favorite combination is carrot and orange, but this is a fun, springy twist. Enjoy!

3-4 medium carrots
1 grapefruit
ginger (optional)

For a slight ginger taste, use ginger about half the size of your pinky; for a more intense ginger taste, use ginger about the size of your whole pinky. I know this is a weird measurement, but it works!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Cumin Rice with Nuts

Today was a pretty exciting day. I joined my first CSA! For those of you unfamiliar with the term "CSA," it stands for "Community Sponsored Agriculture." It's a way for consumers to buy local, seasonal (and often pesticide-free/organic) produce and support a local farm. You typically pay for your "share" early in the season and then receive weekly boxes of produce from about June - October. If you are interested, I highly encourage you to join one of your own. And if you happen to live in Seattle you have tons of great Washington farms to choose from!

Sometimes the best things in life are simple. And my philosophy is that simple foods seem to be the most delicious. I don't know if you have a soft spot in your heart for rice like I do, but there are many days when I can't get enough of the stuff. I grew up with white rice so this what my taste buds still think is best, but I've grown quite fond of brown rice over the years.

This is a very easy and delicious rice recipe that I adapted from one in The Vegetarian Slow Cooker. Look at that, now two delicious meals that have come from my crockpot! Things are looking up! :) This rice goes well with a side of black beans. You could also add in some currants or raisins if desired.

2 Tbs Earth Balance, divided
2 cups long-grain rice
1 3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp ground cumin
4 cups water
3/4 cup pine nuts or chopped almonds
1 tsp dried basil

In a skillet on medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon Earth Balance and add rice, stirring until rice turns light brown. Transfer rice to slow cooker with salt, cumin, basil, and water. Cover and cook on high heat for 2 - 3 hours or low heat for 9 hours.

Melt 1 tablespoon Earth Balance in skillet on medium-high heat, add nuts, and stir until browned. Stir into rice mixture and serve immediately.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Agave

Happy Mother's Day! Here's to all of the amazing women in our lives that give us so much! I don't know if you are in need of a cookie like I am, but here's one that's delicious and won't make you feel guilty for indulging in! I found this recipe on Healthy Endeavors and fell in love with it.

Ashley was momentarily excited that I had made cookies, but after a quick bite informed me that this was not, in fact, a cookie. I disagree. I think this is, in fact, exactly how cookies should taste. Sweet, but not over the top. Somewhere between chewy and crisp. And covered with dried coconut. These go amazing with tea and I swear you'll have to hold yourself back from eating a whole handful.

1 cup organic rolled oats
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup ground almonds
¼ cup shredded coconut
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup agave nectar
½ cup canola oil
½ tsp. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
3. Mix the wet ingredients and stir into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.
4. Form 1” balls and place on an oiled cookie sheet, pressing the balls down with your fingers. (I also garnished a few with the shredded coconut.)
5. Bake for 12 minutes or until crispy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Fresh Tofu Salad Wraps

It's one of those salad days again here in Seattle. The sun is out, beautiful and bright as ever. Everybody is bustling about the city and and looking for a reason to be outside.

I hope that everything in your life is going well. The other night I found out that a classmate and friend of mine is in the hospital. I was thinking back to one of the recent conversations I had with her where we talked about health and wellness. I think that all of us struggle with self-care in the days of this busy digital age. There are so many demands in our lives and time seems to fly by.

After finding out about this friend, it was yet another reminder in my life to cherish the time that I have and to use it well. It was also a reminder of the importance of taking care of myself. I will not sit here and preach about eating all your vegetables because only you know what's right for your life and your body, but I hope that you, dear reader, wherever you are, are taking care of yourself and using your time for whatever matters most in your life. Here's to your health and happiness!

The beauty of this wrap is that it is simple and quick. The lettuce also makes a fresher wrap than using a tortilla, but it would be fine to use one instead. You can also use whatever you happen to have lying around -- rice or quinoa, tofu or tempeh, and any veggies. Here's how I made mine:

1 head of lettuce, washed and dried
1/2 cup cooked rice
2 carrots, julienned
1 cup cucumber, julienned
1 cup shredded cabbage (I still had some sweet & sour cabbage on hand, but fresh works great too)
some chopped green onions
peanuts for garnish
cilantro for garnish
1/2 block tofu, baked

for dressing:
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
3 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp soy sauce

Set out your lettuce leaves and fill with rice, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, and tofu.

In a blender or food processor, mince the garlic and ginger, then add the peanut butter, lemon juice, water, oil, and soy sauce. Blend until smooth.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables on your lettuce. Garnish with peanuts, cilantro and green onions. Serve!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sweet & Sour Cabbage

I have been keeping a secret from you this past month. I bought a slow cooker and have secretly been trying slow cooker recipes. Now, before you feel like I have been holding on out you, I have to tell you that everything I have made in the slow cooker thus far has been, well, let's just say weird. I think I have a slow cooker curse actually.

Everything that goes in there seems to come out funky. I was super excited at first because I thought it would be a great way to make soup without me having to be home and standing over the pot. However, every soup I've made doesn't taste as good as it does on the stove. So then I tried to make beans because I figured beans couldn't go wrong. At the present moment I am still working on perfecting the art of slow cooker beans without much success. Not exactly appetizing, huh? And this is why the slow cooker has been a secret until now.

The fact that I am finally revealing this recipe to you means it must actually be decent, and hopefully, good! I found this in Liana Krissoff's Secrets of Slow Cooking: Creating Extraordinary Food with Your Slow Cooker. Her recipe called for 1/2 cup of brown sugar, but I couldn't justify this to myself so I went with a tablespoon of agave syrup. With the apples and agave, I thought it was perfectly sweet, but you can always add in the brown sugar or an extra drizzle of agave. This is tasty as a side dish, but my favorite use for it is in sandwiches & wraps.

Serves 4 to 6
6 quart slow cooker

1 c cider vinegar
1 Tbs agave syrup (add more to taste)
salt & pepper
1 large head red cabbage
2 red apples

In slow cooker, combine vinegar, agave, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 c water.

Peel off and discard the dried outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut the cabbage into quarters, then cut out and discard the core. Slice the cabbage into 1/2-inch strips and add them to the cooker. Core the apples. Cut them into thin slices and add to the cooker. Toss to combine all the ingredients. Cook, covered, on the low setting for 5-6 hours, until the cabbage is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Gluten-free, soy-free

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Fresh Green Celery Juice

This past week I've been dealing with some intense stomach pain and since I'm still waiting on the final verdict from the Doc, I've been doing everything possible to make it better on my own. You've already heard me hyping up aloe juice and now it's time that celery has its turn. Ever since I bought my Juiceman three years ago, I've been a huge fan of fresh vegetable juices. Fresh vegetable juice brings so many benefits to your body and is also great for people that do not get enough vegetables in their diet regularly.

Celery juice is particularly fabulous. Not only does it aid in digestion and help with inflammation in the body, but it lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and has been shown to fight cancer (which we're all about these days!). You can read more about celery juice's incredible powers here.

The other thing about fresh vegetable juice is that it is alkaline and helps to restore the body's pH balance. If you are interested in reading about alkalinity, you can check out this cool article here. The basics are that foods are divided into alkaline (most fresh vegetables and some fruits) or acidic (meat, dairy, processed & sugary food). Acidic foods make the body more acidic, which makes the body more prone to yeast, parasites, infections, bacteria, and cancer. Alkaline foods help to bring the body back into balance and keep it healthier. You can check out this handy food chart here.

You can mix and match a variety of vegetables, but here is one of my favorite combinations. Ginger also goes well with this mix.

5 stalks of celery
1/3 of a fennel bulb
1/3 of an apple
1/2 a cucumber