Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fresh Kale Salad

A friend of mine made a delicious kale salad for our life group on Sunday and I fell in love with it! It was so simple - fresh kale, quinoa, and pomegranite seeds with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic and agave. Seriously so amazing! I am picky when it comes to kale salads - I love kale but sometimes it can be overpowering in salads (IMO). This salad was so good that after I did dishes and everyone left, I had to grab it from the fridge and have another helping! Dana - you are awesome:-)

So, last night, my mom was visiting which of course called for trying some fun new recipes - since she happily eats anything I cook and is always very encouraging! I was kind of obsessed with kale salad and wanted to find a fun new recipe to try. After a little searching I found a great site (http://cookieandkate.com/) that had a load of kale salad recipes - not all vegan but they were a great jumping board for my creative side:-) I modified one of her recipes and it turned out so good! I am now on a mission to find a new kind of kale salad each day as I have so much delicious, fresh kale and tomatoes from my tower garden to use.

Bold and Beautiful Kale Salad (I had to come up with something fun for a name!)
2 1/2  cups fresh, raw, washed kale chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half (I used a combo of yellow and red)
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/2 cup chopped avocado
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
Toss all ingredients together.

1/8 cup tahini
2 t soy sauce
2 T white vinegar
2 t maple syrup
pinch of red pepper flakes
Wisk together until smooth. Pour over salad and toss.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Butternut Squash Alfredo Lasagna

I haven't done much posting on this blog in recent months...always other things that seem to take up my time...but I have been posting more and more on my health blog (healthyonpurpose.org) and decided it was high time to get back to posting some recipes. Since I recently made a pretty fabulous meal, I thought this was the perfect opportunity!

Since January, not only have I been completely vegan but I have also become gluten free for health-related issues (just a note... I do not believe gluten is a bad thing...it just doesn't do well in my body...therefore, many of my recipes are not gluten free because I still cook with gluten for my family).

After a delightful trip to the apple orchard/pumpkin patch last week, I had a beautiful butternut squash to use, loads of fresh kale from my garden and a box of gluten free lasagna noodles just asking to be used. I found a perfect recipe in Chloes's Vegan Italian Kitchen that was a must-try and the results were downright fabulous. I did modify the recipe for a few reasons - I didn't have any spinach so I used kale, I wanted a quick and easy recipe so I used dried minced onions and garlic powder instead of fresh onions and garlic and I eliminated the oil as I do not cook with oil anymore (see the end of this post for a quick blurb on why). Such a perfect fall treat on a breezy, cool day.

White Lasagna With Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach (Kylea's modified version:-) )
12 oz butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
sea salt and pepper
5 oz fresh kale, deveined and chopped
1 T minced dried onion
1 t garlic powder
1 1/2 cups raw cashews
3 cups water
1 T lemon juice
2 t sea salt
1/4 t black pepper
1 lb no boil lasagna noodles
tofu ricotta (recipe follows)

Fill pan half full with water and add squash. Cook until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain. Place in food processor with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine onion, garlic, cashews, water, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth and creamy. In a 9x13 baking dish, spread a thin layer of sauce in the bottom. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles along the bottom, layer half the ricotta, 4 noodles, sauce, 1/2 the butternut squash, half the kale, sauce, 4 noodles, butternut squash, kale, remaining ricotta, and top with remaining sauce. Bake covered for 50 minutes or until noodles are tender and sauce is bubbly.

Tofu Ricotta (also modified)
1 T dried minced onions
1 t garlic powder
1 14oz package of drained extra firm tofu
2 T lemon juice
2 t sea salt
1 1/2 t black pepper
3/4 cup fresh basil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until basil is chopped and tofu resembles ricotta cheese consistency. Set aside.

Eliminating Oils From the Diet
by Pamela A. Popper, Ph.D., N.D.
The Wellness Forum
I recently heard you speak and you emphasized the importance of eliminating oils from the diet.
I am young, have no signs of cardiovascular disease, it does not run in my family,
and I am wondering if it is ok to use oils in small amounts.
How important is it for someone like me to be totally compliant?
There are some compelling reasons for you to eliminate oils from the diet.
The first is that in my experience, people are more successful in maintaining optimal habits
when they have clear directions on what to do.
"Don't eat oil" is easier to understand and put into practice than "eat less oil."
 "Less" is a subjective term, and very difficult to translate into action.
Second, oils are actually easier to eliminate than most people imagine.
Just don't cook with them, read labels, and avoid products containing oil.
Anyone can watch Del Sroufe, Executive chef and co-owner of
Wellness Forum Foods making oil-free stir fry on our website at www.wellnessforum.com,
and members can consult the Wellness 101 curriculum book, which lists substitutions
for oil in cooking, baking, in salad dressings and other common foods that contain oil,
 and participate in Chef's Del's monthly calls for advice.
Third, you won't miss the oil. No one does. It does not add flavor to the food;
 it just adds fat and calories.
Last but not least, an American dies of cardiovascular disease every 37 seconds,
according to The American Heart Association. This should be a powerful incentive
for people to do everything they can to reduce their risk of developing coronary artery disease.
 Since oils have been proven to promote coronary artery disease,
we will continue to recommend eliminating them.
Circulation Volume 119(3)27 January 2009pp e21-e181 Heart Disease and
Stroke Statistics-2009 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association
Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Kale Rice and Vegan No-chicken Broth

Our family recently decided to have a little lunch outing - we had promised dates with the boys for their birthdays and this was the first chance to do it. Frank took Keith to lunch and I took Braedon. Unfortunately, finding a restaurant that has not only gluten free but also vegan fare is a challenge but I was thrilled to find a new restaurant that offered both! We tried "The Rim - Greens and Grilled". I had a beautiful plate of kale white rice, a mound of fresh, crisp tender sauteed veggies, and sweet potato fries. It was delicious! Though the veggies did have some added oil, they weren't greasy and I didn't indulge in too many of the fries as I was much more enamored with the colorful plate of veggies! Though we rarely frequent restaurants, this was a place I would be happy to go back to.                                                                              

Since our visit to "The Rim", I have been craving the kale rice for some strange reason!  Oddly enough, there was no seasoning or added flare, it was just tiny chopped kale mixed in to white rice. The end result was perfect simplicity.

 I have since made this dish at home and it pairs beautifully with a plate of water-sauteed veggies, sprinkled with some sea salt and fresh pepper - utterly delightful!

Quite frequently, I make veggie stock for use in soups, stews and sauces and the other day I made a pot of broth that was flavorful and full-bodied. The keys? Mushroom stems and nutritional yeast! These two ingredients seemed to create the perfect combination. I didn't use a recipe but rather filled my pot with filtered water, carrot peels, mushroom stems, leeks, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper. A wonderful foundation for any soup or stew!

Happy spring cooking!

Fancy Vegan Easter Stacks, Gluten-free Fruit Pie

It saddens me a bit to see how long it has been since I last posted. I have discovered that not everything can take priority in my life and therefore, some things must patiently wait for my attention (ie. this blog!).

I have some fun new recipes to share from recent weeks...

Easter is one of my favorite holidays of the year. By far, it is my favorite Sunday of the year...reflecting on what Jesus did for us never ceases to bring intense joy to my heart. I love to create incredibly special menu items for this day shared with family around a big dinner table and though not everyone is interested to try my vegan creations, it still thrills me when I make something scrumptious!

This year I made fancy Easter stacks that turned out pretty fabulous. They were a bit of work to put together but well-worth the effort in my opinion.

1. First, I marinated a block of drained, pressed, sliced tofu in a lemon dill marinade (recipe here - I only used the Lemon Dill Dressing marinade - eliminated the oil) and then baked the tofu at 400 for about 15-20 min.

2. I then marinated and cooked portobello mushrooms (marinade recipe here - instead of cooking all together in a skillet at first, I marinated the mushrooms in the ingredients overnight and then cooked them in a skillet with the marinade until tender). When cooked, I sliced the portobellos.

3. Next I made a balsamic reduction by simmering 3/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with 3 T maple syrup until reduced by half.

4. I cut thick slices of tomato.

5. I made an avocado cream sauce by placing a block of extra firm silkin tofu in the blender until smooth. To the tofu I added a ripe, seeded, peeled avocado, 1/2 t dill, a sprinkle of sea salt, a few cracks of fresh pepper, and the juice and zest of 1 lemon and whirred all in the blender until well blended.

6. On a plate I placed several slices of tofu, topped this layer with a couple slices of portobello, followed by a tomato slice, a few drizzles of balsamic reduction and finished it off with a large dollop of avocado cream.

Like I said, a little time-consuming but the end result was delicious!

My sweet and thoughtful family made sure that there were plenty of gluten-free, vegan options for me on the Easter table, including Artichoke Mashed Potatoes made by my sister-in-law (amazing, btw!) and this fresh fruit pie made by my mom. The fruit pie recipe is from the Engine 2 cookbook and can be found here. Don't let the simple list of ingredients fool you! This pie was amazing and there was not a crumb left!

Crispy Herbed Potato Stack

Crispy Herbed Potato Stack
I was going to try a recipe for herbed scalloped potatoes and at last minute decided to do something fast and easy. I made up the recipe and it was yummola! I layered sliced russet potatoes in a baking dish, drizzled with olive oil, and then sprinkled with coarse sea salt, fresh ground pepper, basil, rosemary, paprika, and garlic powder. Then I baked them at 425 fr about 45 minutes. They were crisp and very flavorful!

My thrown-together salad today - after discovering I had no leftovers for lunch!

Tamale Fixings

Tamale Fixings
Plain pintos (for Keith), pintos, corn and onions; corn, jalepenos and Daiya; mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, and chard

Making these was a bit time-consuming but kinda fun! They didn't turn out as good as I had hoped - the outer tamale part (not the filling) just wasn't as flavorful as tamales I have had in restaurants. I have another recipe I will try for the dough next time. Tamales are one of my favorite foods so I won't give up on this one!

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes
I modified one of my favorite pancake recipes to make it vegan and then I added blueberries. Turned out quite yummy. Soymilk sours and thickens well - very similar to buttermilk. I have been really impressed with it's ability to substitute for real buttermilk.

"Buttermilk" Blueberry Pancakes

Egg replacement for 1 egg
1 1/4 cups soured soy milk (put 2 T vinegar into a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Add enough soy milk to equal 1 1/4 cups)
2 T canola oil
1 cup flour (I wouldn't recommend whole wheat or whole wheat pastry - it really takes away from the fluffiness of these pancakes)
1 T sugar
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Blueberries, optional

Mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Heat griddle pour about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake. Sprinkle blueberries on pancakes after ladling onto griddle. Cook just until golden on both sides.

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein

Veggie and Seitan Lo Mein
Overall, this was fabulous! However, I don't think the seitan added much so I would just leave it out next time. The lo mein also needed about double the sauce so I would simply do that next time for added flavor. This was especially spicy and yummy with some Sriracha drizzled on top. I made our favorite veg egg rolls to go with this and it was truly a Chinese treat!!

Veggie Seitan Lo Mein

I really did my own thing for this recipe so I am just going to outline the instructions and include the sauce recipe. I heated oil in a large skillet and added 3 minced cloves of garlic and about 1 cup of half-moon cut onions (I was out of green onions but next time I would use green onions as I like them a lot in Chinese food) and about 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots. After about 5-6 minutes, I added about 1/4 lb of whole green beans. I cooked these veggies until tender. Meanwhile, I cooked a 16oz package of chow mein noodles. Once the veggie mixture was cooked, I poured the sauce on the veggies, heated through and tossed with the noodles. Next time I would double the amount of sauce and have adjusted amounts below to reflect double recipe.

Sauce (Source:Adaptable Feast)
3 T soy sauce
3 T rice wine (I used 3 T rice vinegar and 1 t sugar as I didn't have any rice wine)
3 t sugar
4 T black bean garlic sauce
Mix all ingredients and toss with above mixture.

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth
Pretty yummy. I found that steaming the wontons worked much better than the recipe suggestion to boil them. The broth was very mild and a bit too mellow for us. Still pretty yummy though. I added extra veggies to the wontons and scallion to the broth. The seasoning in the wonton filling was quite tasty!

Chinese Broccoli Wontons in Ginger Soy Broth (Source: Vegan Yum Yum)

(As usual, I modified several things so it's not exactly the recipe in Vegan Yum Yum!)

1 cup chopped broccoli
3/4 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 T oil
1 t fresh ginger, minced
1 clove fresh minced garlic
1/2 t hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 t hot Chinese mustard
2 T plus 1 t soy sauce
4 cups water ( I think this might have been more flavorful had I used vegetable broth or faux chicken broth???)
6 slices fresh ginger
1 T mirin (I used a splash of cooking wine as I didn't have mirin)
1 1/2 t sugar
2 t rice vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup chopped scallions
16 wonton skins

For filling: Heat oil in skillet and add broccoli, ginger, garlic, carrot, onion and cook until veggies are crisp tender. Add chili sauce, mustard, 1 t soy sauce and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

To make wontons, take one skin and place in diamond shape. Fill with 1-2 t filling. Fold in half to make a triangle and moisten edges with water and pinch sides to seal. Set triangle in front of you with point up and take the 2 side points and bring them together in front to cross. Set aside and prepare remaining wontons. When finished, place wontons in a steamer basket and steam over pot of boiling water until translucent.

Meanwhile, in a pot, combine remaining ingredients (except wontons) and simmer 10-15 min.

Place 3-4 wontons in bowl and ladle broth over wontons. Serve.