Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Beat Spring by Juicing!

My roommate and I have been juicing a LOT since I purchased a Vitamix.  I just have to say that WE ARE IN LOVE.  How did we ever live without one in the past?  Why was I so deprived and uneducated?  It is pitiful how empty my life (and my digestive tract) was previous to my juicing splurge.
So I thought I'd share two great recipes.  Actually I really don't like health drinks, and believe it or not, I grew up on fast food and junk, so the fact that I'm a vegan and a health nut is definitely a miracle from God (do you hear the angels' chorus?).  :)  I don't really suggest anyone make this unless they have a good quality, high speed blender because regular kitchen blenders don't break down the veggies enough to create a smooth consistency that's palatable (even for the toughest green drink consumer).  Also, some recipes all for protein powder to be added, but I highly DISCOURAGE this!  The result is grainy and makes me want to gag (and I personally pride myself on having a high gross-tasting-but-good-for-you food tolerance).  Seriously though, after you go a week or two (or the rest of your life!) drinking such drinks, you'll feel like you could do anything.  Be Superman/woman!

*Note:  I buy organic produce and just wash the produce, leaving on the skin on the veggies whenever I can, but you can peel all the skin off of your veggies if you like :)

Green Juicing Drink
(adapted from ohsheglows' Green Monster)

2 c kale, roughly chopped
1 whole english cuke, peeled, seeded and chopped into large chunks
1 c pineapple
1-2 tsp ginger, peeled and diced small
1 large sweet apple, chopped
1 banana (optional)

1.  in blender, start either by pulsing or on a low setting.  push down the veggies to get them going.  when all the veggies are blending without your help, turn up the speed gradually (on a Vitamix, start at 1, work your way up to a 4) and blend until desired consistency.

The next drink is great for naturally beating allergies that come every Spring because pineapples and berries have natural antihistamines (or so I've been told), but won't make you drowsy!  Ginger helps with digestion and is great for your immune system helping to fight colds, so chug this ruby red baby down if you want to keep any sniffles away!

Red Juicing Drink

1 beet, scrubbed and chopped
1 medium carrot, scrubbed and chopped
1.5 c pineapple
5-6 strawberries
1 tsp ginger, diced small
1 while english cuke, peeled, seeded and chopped into large chunks

1.  follow instructions for green drink

Now, go and save the world!

Some Zingers

This week's meal plan is out of this world!  I couldn't wait so I'm sharing it right now!
Remember the last post, the Vegan Shepherd's Pie?  Well I made the filling again and smothered it over brown rice pasta and a little extra sauce and BAM!  it was divine.  I also wanted some "cheesy"ness so I used avocado (since I can't eat anything that's 'put together').  It was easy!

Avocado "Cheese" Sauce

2 Avocados
6 Tbsp nutritional yeast
salt to taste
(if you can't stand that avocado-y taste, put in lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time until desired flavor)

1.  mash avocados.  mix everything in.  stir. enjoy!

Then~ I made a veggie bake and it turned out delicious!

Brussel Sprout and Butternut Squash Bake
(inspired by ohsheglows' Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts recipe)

2 lbs of brussel sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
1 butternut squash, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 medium onion
3-4 garlic cloves
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, removed from twig and chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil or oil of choice
salt and pepper to taste

1.  preheat oven to 350.
2.  mix all prepped veggies together in a bowl or in baking pan, drizzle with oil and mix well.  sprinkle in salt, pepper and rosemary.
3.  the key here for great baked veg is this:  single layer spread!  do NOT dump all veggies into 1 tray because you don't want to wash 2 trays (which is my M. O. guilty!)  this allows for the veggies to crisp and cook evenly.
4.  bake for 45 min-1hr.

And that, my friends is the BEST week meal (well... until next time, that is :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Not Too Late to Celebrate My Irish Roots!

So I wanted to do something Irish because in my heart of hearts, I believe I am Irish (or British, or Scottish.... whatever I really feel like that day), and having a little bit of the celtic tradition isn't bad at all, especially when it comes to good ol' comforting potatoes.  But~ what more can be Irish than Shepherd's Pie and Guinness?
Frankly, since I've been on my clean/gluten-free eating regime, it hasn't been the easiest.  I mean, I LOVE sandwiches, and the rule is: NO bread (even if it is gluten free), NO rich foods (like vegan cheese sauces), just simple, plucked-from-God's-green-earth to your table kind of food, which I love, but when you see someone walking around chowing down a pizza, your jealousy arouses.  Grrr!  :)

So~ I was really happy to see that Shepherd's Pie would be an easy, YES food that I could eat and enjoy.  YAY!  I looked at a couple different recipes and wanted to make something as authentic and close to traditional Irish Shepherd's Pie as possible, so the following is the end result.  However, I did add beer to the recipe instead of water because, let's face it, what true Irishman would add water when they could add Guinness?  (because of my gluten free diet, I used gluten free dark beer instead of Guinness).  The end result?  Massive flavor and just the right amount of starch that anyone from the old country would love.

Vegan Shepherd's Pie
(inspired by Danny Boome's recipe and Vegan Shepherd's Pie recipe)
serves 4-6 (depending on how ravenous you are)

Mashed Potato layer:
5 russet potatoes
1 c coconut milk OR a non-dairy milk of choice
1/4 c olive oil OR 3-4 Tbsp earth balance
2 tsp salt

Sauce for Filling:
2 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Tomato paste
1/2 a vegetable bouillon cube mixed into 
1/2 c beer
1-2 Tbsp soy sauce 

Bottom layer / Filling:
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2-1 c peas
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme
2-8 oz pkgs of tempeh OR 15 oz of meatless meat crumbles OR 1-16 oz pkg of extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cubed
2 Tbsp soy sauce OR BRAGG'S liquid aminos OR Tamari

1.  Make mashed potatoes.  Put potatoes in pot with salted water to cover and cook until fork tender.  While potatoes are boiling, prepare the "meat".  
*If using tempeh:
Cut tempeh into 1 in. cubes and put in a saucepan/skillet with 2 Tbsp soy sauce and let simmer for 20 min. or until water is evaporated/absorbed.  Mash with a masher, then sautee with some oil for 10-15 min. until the tempeh resembles meat crumbles.  
*If using tofu: 
stir fry tofu cubes until crisp on each side OR put in oven on BROIL for about 15-20 min. until cooked all around.
*If using meatless crumbles: 
follow package directions.  
2.  When the potatoes are about done, bring the milk and butter/oil to just bubbling on the stove.  Then drain and mash the potatoes and pour in the liquids: the key is to heat the liquid and fat, and pour into warm potatoes so the potatoes absorb all the liquid and create that creamy consistency.
3.  Now, let's finish the remaining filling parts.  
Stir fry onion, carrots, celery, garlic in another pan till just mildly tender.  Stir in thyme and peas and tempeh.  add tomato paste first, sautéing for a minute, then add remaining sauce ingredients.  Bring to a boil, when heated through, turn off stove.
4.  In a casserole dish or  9 x 13 baking dish, layer the meat and veggies down evenly, then layer on mashed potatoes.  if desired, add vegan cheese on top.  
Bake at 400 for 20 min. 

I can't tell you how delicious this was.  I think I'm going to take the filling/stew-y bit next week, add a little bit of tomato sauce (just a touch) and pour it over some brown rice pasta and call it pasta putanesca.  Mmmm~  It's making me hungry just thinking about it. :)
If you make this dish, let me know what you think.  Happy Dingus Day everyone!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Vegan Korean

Hello All!

My post title is not a declaration of my dietary and ethnic stance but the topic of food discussion today.
The truth is a lot of vegan options come from Asian cuisine, especially because traditionally, soy is heavily consumed especially in SouthEastern Asian countries.  Miso (Japanese)/Dwen-Jang (Korean), a fermented soy bean paste most commonly used in soups and/or as a seasoning, are from the soy bean and are used in every day cuisines.  In China alone there are at least 6 different types of bean pastes!
Aside from this, there is tofu, tempeh and soy sauce to name a few.  Being one of the very few complete proteins to grow in the fields and not come from a butcher's block, soy is a wonderful source of meeting your protein needs.
Aside from soy, the variety in Asian cuisine makes vegan cooking fun!  Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese (not to generalize the great varieties of cuisine in the different provinces alone in this great nation), Japanese, Korean, Fillipino, etc. all lend interesting takes on a lifestyle that can easily be misunderstood as eating, "rabbit food".
The other great thing about Asian cuisine is that because so much of their food is based around rice, it is gluten free, although sometimes depending on the dish (and more recently with western technologies) foods can contain wheat.  So please check packaging for ingredients!
So~ what did I make this week?  Korean Food!  I have been craving rice cakes like crazy.  Sweet and savory/spicy (which is a Korean must), so the following recipes are for a basic Sweet Rice Cake (it's originally called Baek Sul Ki), with options for tasty modifications, and the ever popular Korean staple, Dduk Bbok Ki (spicy rice cakes).
Some of the ingredients may be purchased at Korean or Asian specialty food stores.  Make sure if you have a wheat allergy that you specifically read the ingredients to make sure you get rice cakes for the spicy dish without wheat!  The same goes for Miso, as some contain grains other than rice.

Sweet Rice Cake (Baek Sul Ki)
adapted from Dr. Ben's recipe
Utensils needed:
pot with a steamer insert and lid OR
pot with a fan steamer, and the rim frame from a springform pan and lid
2 sheets of thick paper towels (bounty really is the best)
1 large bowl
1 medium bowl
wooden spoon OR mixing spoon
dish cloth/tea towel

1 lb of frozen rice flour (not the sweet rice kind), thawed for 30 min. - 1hr.
2 Tbsp of sweet rice flour
1-2 Tbsp of raw sugar (or any other sweetener you like)
2 Tbsp-1/4 c water

1/3 c of reconstituted and cooked black beans
*tip: boil dry beans for 30 min. and they should be fully reconstituted and cooked through
1/4 c each of golden and Thompson raisins (or any other dark raisin)
1/2-1 c of fully cooked chestnuts
(I use cooked chestnuts vacuum packaged in simple syrup, but you can buy peeled chestnuts and steam them yourself)

also try: adzuki beans/paste and korean jujubes julienned.

1. prepare the pot, filling with enough water to not reach the bottom of the steamer when boiling (you may have to refill the water in the pot if necessary).  line the steamer with paper towels (if you are using the makeshift steaming basket, here's how to do it:
open fan steamer, place the springform frame on it.  line with paper towels.  if you happen to have a fan steamer with a handle in the middle, just work around it.)
2.  mix the rice flours and sugars together in a medium bowl (if you're planning on using a liquid sweetener, mix it in with the water until dissolved).  slowly drizzle in water and mix through.  ditch the spoon and begin rubbing the clumpy flour together, ensuring that the moisture reaches all the flour.
3.  sift the clumpy flour through a sifter.  TURN ON STOVE.  make sure the water is a gentle rolling boil, or enough to create steam inside the pot, about Med, Med/Low.  Keep lid on pot until everything's ready.
4.  mix in whatever you want to add, then evenly distribute into steamer.  DON'T PRESS THE RICE CAKE DOWN.  I found that when I did that, it didn't cook through.  you can lightly pat the surface, just to even things out, but don't compact it like sand.
5.  place steamer in pot, cover with towel, then lid, and let it steam for 40-45 min.  I like to tuck the tea towel up over the lid and place a weight on the lid.
6.  Turn off stove, then remove steamer, and onto a plate, turn out the rice cake.  remove paper towels and enjoy!  :)

Dduk Bbok Ki
adapted from Maangchi

1 large carrot, sliced thinly into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
2-3 green onions, cut into 3-4 in. lengths
1/4 of a small cabbage, cored and sliced into thin shreds
1/3-1/2+ c red pepper paste (to taste)
2 Tbsp miso (make sure it's gluten free if you're allergic)
8 inch sheet of dried kelp
1 pkg of rice cakes for Dduk Bbok Ki (about 2-3 lbs)
4 c water

1.  In a good sized pot, pour water in with kelp.  Bring to a simmer, and let simmer for about 15 min.  This is creating the seafood-y stock flavor.  When the water is a gentle, clear green, put the miso in, and crank stove to HI.
2.  Put the veggies in, and the red pepper paste.  When boiling, put rice cakes in, and let it stew for 15-30 min.  The longer it stews, the more the starch from the cakes thickens the sauce and the flavor gets absorbed into the cakes.  This is what you want!  If you want better rice cakes, make this ahead of time and just reheat a day later.  It is delicious!

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Favorite Go-To Chili

Hello friends!

I know that I am a very sporadic blogger, and I apologize for that.  I'm currently working a full-time job, teach pilates at a gym a couple nights a week, am in Grad school, in a band and I also help out at my church sometimes.  So~ it's difficult to have sanity time sometimes. :P  But I wanted to share the recipe that I am currently making RIGHT NOW! :)

I just came back from a visit to the Nutritionist because I've developed some food allergies over the years, and as I've become vegan, the number has increased.  I've also developed a sensitivity to certain foods, so I decided to be my own Sherlock Holmes and get to the bottom of all of this.
Doctor's diagnosis:  clean eating and NO gluten for 4 weeks.  Yikes!  So, making this week my last fling for a month (mostly because I have leftover desserts from this weekend's birthday party), I'm making Vegan Chili and my vegan tofu fries again.

Post Punk Kitchen's Tempeh Chili con Frijoles has been my go to chili for the last month.  When I, Queen of I-get-bored-with-food-blah-blah make a dish 2x in a single month, it's that good!  So here's my recipe, with the modifications off of PPK's wonderful original. :)

Go-To Chili
(adapted from PPK's Tempeh Chili con Frijoles)

1-8 oz pkg of tempeh, cubed
2 green peppers, diced
5 medium sized carrots, diced or sliced into 1/2 in. circles
2 medium yellow onions, diced
5-7 cloves garlic, minced
some olive oil for sauteing
1 Tbsp soy sauce
5-6 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp salt
couple dashes of black pepper
2-15 oz cans of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 pint of chocolate stout (I used Young's Double Chocolate Stout)
1-6 oz can of tomato paste
1-28 oz of diced tomatoes
2 tsp maple syrup (or a couple more to taste)
juice of a lemon
2 large handfuls of cilantro, chopped roughly
*if the chili is much thicker than your taste, add 2-3 c of water, adding 1 cup at a time.  I like my chili flavored intensely and thick, so I omit the water all together.

1.  in a saucepan with a lid, add tempeh and water just enough to cover it and the soy sauce.  Bring it to a boil, reduce to med-high heat, and let it simmer until all the water has evaporated.  This can take 15-25 min.
While that's going, in a large pot, put in your onions, peppers and carrots and saute with a Tbsp of oil on med-high heat.  It should brown but not char, as if you were caramelizing the veggies.
2.  When the water evaporates from the tempeh, mash them with a masher, and add a tsp or two of oil and saute for another 10-15 min.
When the veggies are good and browned (about 20 minutes or so), add garlic and cook for 1 min.  Then add spices and cook for another minute.
Add beer and cook for 2 minutes, or until bubbly (turn heat up to high).
3.  Now, add the beans, tomato paste and diced tomatoes.  Tempeh should be done now, so add tempeh as well.  Bring to a boil and let it simmer at med-high heat for 20 minutes.  *If you added water, then uncover pot and boil for another 30 minutes uncovered on med heat.
4.  When done, add maple syrup, lemon and cilantro.  Now consume with either vegan sour cream or guacamole! mmmm~
(very delicious with cornbread too!)
**Note:  Chili, like all saucy dishes, taste better the next day.  All the flavors marry and have time to develop, so if you can make it a day before, I highly recommend it!

For dinner, I'm going to take some of this chili and drown my tofu fries in it.  Instant chili fries! What! :)