Enchilada Casserole

26 01 2014

I found this enchilada casserole recipe searching for things to add to our weekly meal plan. It was such a success I even cooked it for my friend Susan, and her family loved it too! Check out the recipe here.IMG_1592





Rob’s Infamous Granola #Gluten Free/Low Sugar/No Salt

22 01 2014
Last night my good friend Rob emailed me a recipe for granola. It was perfect timing, as I was heading to the grocery store and had been planning on buying granola — well I should probably make it instead no? I could save myself some money and have the option to put in only what I like to eat. In the past I have had trouble with burning the granola and putting in some unpleasant ingredients… Rob’s instructions were easy to follow and the granola came out awesome! I had it for breakfast today with some bananas. I added all the sweetener options and didn’t think it was too sweet (I also used agave instead of honey, not much clumping but a nice sweetness level). So in his own words, Rob’s Gluten free, Low sugar, No salt Granola:
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This is delicious, nutritious, easy and freezable. Make your own cereal without the preservatives, extra sugar, and salt that comes with boxed store brand. Did I mention its cheaper?

Ok, basically granola is toasted whole oats with fun stuff stuck to/on it. This recipe makes one large cake pan worth of granola.

Makes about 8 cups
Dry Ingredients
- 3 cups whole oats (have to get the oldschool stovetop kind, NOT the instant)
- 1 cup chopped or ground almonds, unsalted
– 1/2 cup flax seeds
- 1/2 cup chi’a seeds
(Other options, crushed peanuts, walnuts, cashews, sesame, sunflower)
Wet Ingredients
- 1/3 cup coconut oil (comes in a liquid or a semi-solid form, doesnt matter which )
- 1/4-1/3 cup maple syrup (depends how sweet you like it)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Clumping Promoters
- 2 tablespoons of honey (optional, once again sweetness factor determines)
Spices
- 3/4 tablespoon ground cinammon
- 1/2 teaspoon cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice (optional)
- 2 pinches of salt (you don’t have to have salt, its a flavor enhancer, I like a bit but if you don’t like it, forget it)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar (optional, another sweetness enhancer, leave it out if you are going for max healthy)
Post Bake Mix-Ins
- Raisins ( I put in a half cup but its to your preference)
- Dried Banana chips
- Chopped Dates
- Dried Cranberries
[I added shredded coconut as well]
Steps:
1. Pre-heat oven to 325
2. Mix all the spices in a small bowl
3. Mix all the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl EXCEPT Chi’a seeds
4. Mix in half the spices to the dry ingredients, stir until evenly distributed
5. Put all the wet ingredients in a small sauce pan, heat on LOW (burns quick), stirring occasionally, until everything is 100% liquid i.e. all the chunks are out of the coconut oil.
6. Pour half the wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients, mix in 1/2 the remaining spices, stir until evenly distributed
7. Add chi’a seeds
7. Pour the remaining wets and spices into the dries and mix, clumping isn’t necessarily a bad thing
8. Drizzle the honey on the mixture, stirring slowly to promote clumping (if you don’t care about clumping or don’t want sweetness, you can skip this step)
9. Taste the mixture, adjust spices to preference
10. Spread mixture evenly onto long rectangular cakepan or cookie sheet (I think they are 12 inches pus long)
11. Put in oven for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, mix and turn mixture to promote browning
12. Put in for another 15 minutes. remove and turn to promote browning
13. Put in for 5 minutes or until golden crust has formed
14. Flip mixture, trying not to mix it up too much, then put back in oven till crust forms on other side
15. Remove, let cool, add in Post Bake Mix-ins
16. Enjoy

NOTES:

Metal cookie sheets tend to cook/toast faster than glass cake pans and require more careful flipping, you also have to look out for loner oats that get burnt near the edges of the cookie sheet.

Adding the spices and wets gradually ensures even spice distribution. Adding Chi’a seeds after the wets ensures you don’t just get a big chi’a deposit on the bottom of your bowl, the things are tiny so you have to mix them in with some stickiness.

People differ in their granola preferences, some (like me) like it really toasted and crunchy, some like it softer and muesli-like. How long you bake it after the initial 30 minutes is going to determine your toastiness level.
All sweetners are optional, except perhaps a certain level of maple syrup. Agave nectar works well in place of maple syrup, gives a …plant-y organic-y taste to it if you are into that.
At its most basic level, the granola formula is oats, some kind of oil or fat, spices, sweetener, oven. You can add or subtract anything else according to your liking, you just have to determine if it gets baked or added in last. My general rule, anything raisin-like or dried fruits goes in post-bake, anything grain or nut gets baked.
Doubling, tripling, and quadrupling the recipe works well, it can all go in the oven provided you have enough containers. 3 batches usually gets me through the week, but I tend to eat granola like its my job. Stuff keeps well just in a bag on the counter like ordinary cereal, but if you are worried you could refrigerate/freeze.
Good Luck
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Lentil Salad

20 01 2014

Inspired by the lentil salad recipe I found on The Garden of Eating, I decided to whip this up for dinner. It is a great recipe because it is inexpensive, very nutritious, tasty, and simple to make! Feel free to use the vegetables and spices you have on hand (for me it was carrots and cilantro). This is quite adaptable to whatever is sitting in your fridge so don’t feel limited by the vegetables I had around.

IMG_1599Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked brown, black, or Du Puy lentils (avoid red lentils, because they get too mushy)

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1 – 3 carrots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup onion, minced

1/4 cup minced cilantro (substitute parsly or basil)

1/4 cup Delavignes Mediterranean Blend (substitute with olive oil, red wine vinegar, and Italian spices)

1 T strong mustard

1 T maple syrup

1 T agave nectar (or local honey if you eat honey)

Salt and pepper to taste

Bring the lentils and 4 cups of water to a boil. Turn down to simmer until the lentils are soft but not mushy (20-40min). Depending on the type of lentil you may need to add a little water, or if they are soft and there is still to much water, drain them. Combine the warm lentils with the rest of the ingredients and you are ready to serve. The lentil salad tastes better the next day though, so you might want to make it ahead of time. I served my lentil salad with rice and sauteed kale. Enjoy!





Blueberry Cabbage Juice

13 01 2014

I found a number of juicing recipes while flipping through an old Eating Well magazine. While I stole my mother’s juicer a while ago, I often don’t get around to making juice (despite how amazing it tastes and makes me feel). Inspired by these recipes, I decided to try one out, and I’m so glad I did. Ok, it did taste a bit odd, but was very refreshing to taste a new flavor, plus it felt amazing! Please, if you have a juicer consider giving this recipe a try. Note, if you are using frozen blueberries thaw them out first!

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Easy Peasy Soy-Free Miso Soup

7 01 2014

Soy-free Miso Soup

I woke up this morning to find Rachel on the couch sick. Offering to make her breakfast, nothing sounded good except for miso soup. I whipped this up in less than half an hour and it tasted fantastic. Plus, it is full of the things she needs to make her healthy again (and what I need to avoid catching what she’s got).

Ingredients:

Olive oil – I used Sicilian Bread Dipping Oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 head of garlic, chopped

1/4 green cabbage, chopped

1/2 cup Soy free miso – I use South River’s Chickpea Miso

Sautee the chopped onion in oil until translucent. Add the garlic and green cabbage, cook for another 3-4 minutes. Next add water to generously cover the vegetables. If you like your soup with more broth, add more water. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, or bring down to very low heat. Stir in the miso (add less or more to suit your taste – I like a lot of miso) and serve. Enjoy!

This soup is very healthy because it has an entire head of garlic, which has been shown to be effective in preventing colds. There is also cabbage which is a little known superfood full of vitamins and minerals. Finally, the miso is full of pro-biotics which is why it is important not to add it to the soup until after you have boiled the water, otherwise you will kill all the good bacteria you want to end up in your stomach!

Here are the other things I have in my medicine closet to fight off colds:

How to Fight a ColdOregano oil – Prevents and helps cure a cough or colds that come with a cough.

Netti pot – Drains your sinuses which can help you get rid of a clogged nose, or by regularly flushing out the germs that get up there, keep you from getting sick at all!

Vitamin C chewable – I try to eat citrus instead. A grapefruit in the morning with some local honey is full of vitamin C and the local honey will fight a cold as well. I know this is not 100% vegan, but I have some friends who are very responsible beekeepers and do not feel bad consuming their honey. Sometimes it is easier to just take a chewable so I keep them around.

Tea – Traditional Medicinals makes a number of amazing teas – I keep Cold Care PM, Throat Coat, and Echinacea Immune Support stocked at all times.

Note: I have no medical training, these are simply the items that work to fight colds for me and my family.





Menu Planning

3 01 2014

Even though I love cooking, food, and generally hanging out in the kitchen there are days/weeks/months where I feel uninspired. I open the fridge to find no leftovers, wish I had bought more frozen burritos, realize there are no vegan restaurants within a half hour drive, and feel dread at the thought of cooking. Often I end up eating lentils, or when I’m feeling less healthy,  popcorn. How do I pull myself out of this downward spiral?

All of the food magazines I flip through while avoiding cooking point to one thing: menu planning. So, to bring life back to the kitchen I actually looked at the long list of “recipes to try” I keep on pinterest and opened the cookbooks to those pages I had sticky marked. Turns out, there are some pretty exiting recipes out there, and sometimes following someone else’s recipe is all I need to get re-excited about cooking dinner. It becomes once again an adventure, time well spent, and hey isn’t that all we ask for in life?

Things I’m pumped about making this week:

Vegetable Curry with Rice

Pizza

Black Bean Enchiladas

Spaghetti Squash Cakes with Sauteed Kale

Herb-Scalloped Potatoes with Baked Beans from Veganomicon

Chickpeas Romesco with Garlic Saffron Rice from Veganomicon

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Let’s see how it goes!





Butternut Squash Soup with White Beans and a Hint of Lemon

1 01 2014

I used to hate soup. Something about drinking my dinner always felt wrong to me. Of course, this was way before I fell in love with smoothies, green drinks, the master cleanse, and well let’s just say I’ve seen the error in my thinking. Besides, when the cold comes creeping in, a warm bowl of soup is the perfect anti-dote. The inspiration for this recipe came from Veganomicon  (if you don’t own it, you should) but the recipe morphed according to what I had in my house and I really like the final version. This soup is on the sweeter side, but is all around an awesome butternut soup that your family/friends/strangers in your life will fall head over heals for.

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serves 8

time: 1hr

Ingredients:

2T olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper

2 tsp minced ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

1 butternut squash (or 2 small acorn squash)

2 firm bartlett pears

4 cups of vegetable stock

1 15-oz can white beans

1 T fresh lemon juice

drizzle of chocolate balsamic vinegar (optional)

Remove the seeds from the butternut squash, peel and chop roughly. Sauté the onion in oil until it turns translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, and Chinese five spice powder and then sauté for another few minutes (be careful not to burn the spice). Add the bell pepper, squash, pears, and vegetable stock. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce to a rolling simmer for about 20 minutes or until the squash is very tender. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or transfer to a food processor/blender and process in batches. Return the soup to the pot and add the white beans and lemon juice. Serve with a drizzle of chocolate balsamic vinegar.

If you are not ready to eat the soup, cool it in an ice bath and refrigerate to use within a week or freeze and eat within 6 months.








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