Posts Tagged kale

Team ASPCA Raffle & Dinners for Busy People

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here about my regular, every day eats.  I have been cooking (and of course eating) but I’ve also been extremely busy, so my meals have had to be more of the simple and quick variety.

My current project is that I’m training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon with Team ASPCAThe ASPCA’s mission is to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States, a mission close to my heart.  I’m really happy to be a part of Team ASPCA and honored to be raising both awareness and funding to support the ASPCA’s programs!

As part of my fundraising, I’m hosting a raffle!  Head on over to the Raffle Page and check it out!  The list of prizes is really awesome, if I do say so myself, with an estimated value of over $1,100.  There are over 30 great prizes to be won, and you can enter for as little as a $5 donation!  To entice you, here’s a pile of some of the prizes, just waiting to be shipped.  The bottom right box might be of particular interest to some people…

Please check out the Raffle Page on The Vegan Weight Watcher and consider donating to The ASPCA!  The deadline to enter for the first drawing is this Friday, September 14th, at 12PM noon PDT.

I started running around July of last year, and have been training for one race or another ever since.  Between working full time, training, and other obligations, I don’t have much time to cook, but on the other hand, I need healthy meals to fuel my training.  So, I’ve turned to a few particular cookbooks and fast meals to get by.

First up, Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.  I posted a review here and more photos here, and this continues to be my go-to for flavorful and balanced meals that don’t take a long time.  The book has an index of recipes that are ready in under 30 minutes, which makes it even easier to pick out quick meals.

This is Goddess Nicoise Salad.  I don’t normally love olives but liked them in this, and the cooked green beans and potatoes made it feel hearty enough to be a full meal.

Thai Roasted Root Vegetable Curry is the perfect way to use fall CSA produce.

Pasta con Broccoli may look a little dry, but it’s actually quite flavorful and moist.  I added chickpeas to round out the meal, as the author suggests.

With only about 20 minutes active cooking time involved, Kidney Bean & Butternut Jamba Stew is a delicious, spicy meal in a bowl.

Forty-Clove Broccoli & Chickpeas and Colipots was really intensely delicious, but not as filling as I had hoped.

Fusilli Roasted Vegetable Primavera teaches you a great way to make a flavorful summer pasta without too much effort.  I added mushrooms and chickpeas, and wouldn’t make it again without.

Quick Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson is a cookbook which is geared specifically toward speedy vegan meals.  Luckily, most of the recipes are relatively healthy too, with plenty of veggies.  Looking through the index, there are plenty more recipes from this book that I want to try!

The Roasted Asparagus Soup gets its creaminess from potato and non-dairy milk.  The soup was delicious, but I thought it missed some of the asparagus flavor by adding the other ingredients.  On the side, I made a quick potato, corn, and black bean hash.

Barbecue Pinto and Portobello is like a souped up version of baked beans, with a fast homemade barbecue sauce.  It’s intended to be a sandwich filling, but in an effort to keep it a little more light, I had the beans on their own with a side of coleslaw pasta salad.

This Indonesian Vegetable and Tofu Scramble was a great way to use up all the bok choy I receive from the CSA.  Adding hoisin sauce and ground coriander made it really different from other scrambles.  On the side is chili-lime roasted sweet potatoes.

Tropical Quinoa and Black Beans develops the flavor of the islands in a short amount of time.  I served it over steamed kale, topped by pumpkin seeds, which were nice textural contrasts.

Since I’m also watching my budget, I turn to Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson as well.  The recipes tend to rely on fresh vegetables a little less than I like, which is understandable based on the title, but I have found a few good ones so far and plan to try out more.

The mix of sweet and spicy in this Moroccan-Inspired Lentil Soup was great.  I served the thick soup over grits.

I added some chipotle chili powder to this Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Chowder, rendering it spicier than expected, but it was still quite delicious topped with avocado and served with sprouted blue corn tortilla chips and steamed broccoli.

I really like raw foods during the summer months, both for their speed and simplicity.  One book I’ve really been enjoying is Practically Raw by Amber Shea Crawley.  Some of the recipes require time or dehydrating, yes, but many of them are really quick and accessible.

The Deconstructed Sushi Bowl was a really fun way to enjoy sushi without cooking rice and bothering to roll anything.  Since the meal was mostly vegetables, I bulked it up by adding edamame and a quick spicy sauce.  I’ll write a full review of Practically Raw once I’ve had the chance to try more recipe!

These Gingery Sunflower Seed, Cabbage, and Red Apple Rolls from Choosing Raw were simple and delicious!  I wrapped mine in collard leaves instead of the nori sheets, just because that’s what I had, and the sweet apples were a great contrast to the bitter greens.

One obvious time saver is the slow cooker, which I don’t utilize nearly often enough.  Maybe once the weather turns cool again I’ll yearn for more stew-like, comforting dishes.

Here’s a non-soup recipe from The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester, Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole.  You layer corn tortillas and sweet potatoes with canned enchlada sauce and beans.  The recipe called for one can of beans and vegan chorizo, but I used two cans of beans instead to try to keep it a little more whole-foods oriented.  I topped the casserole with a little slaw and salsa verde that we happened to have in the fridge, and served roasted brussels sprouts on the side.

Slow cooker minestrone, adapted from this recipe, with leeks, yelllow squash, zucchini, lima beans, green beans, swiss chard, and quinoa pasta.

I LOVE salads for summertime meals.  I’ve been known to use an entire head of lettuce for an entree-sized salad!

Kale salad with avocado, blood orange and chipotle-ginger tempeh.  Since the tempeh was the only cooked component, this one came together quickly.

Black bean, zucchini and corn fajita salad with salsa and Daiya Jack style wedges.  I really like the new Daiya wedges!

Reuben-ish salad with lettuce, carrot, celery, dill pickle, roasted chickpeas, sauerkraut, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, and Healthy Thousand Island Dressing from Eat to Live.

Blackened seitan salad with cusabi dressing.  The seitan was broiled with the blackened seasoning mix from Appetite for Reduction, and the cusabi dressing was a first stab at veganizing the cucumber-wasabi dressing that turned out okay, but not great.

Kale salad with red cabbage, carrot, edamame, tahini dressing, and sesame seeds.  Shredded red cabbage in kale salad is my favorite!

And, of course, the easiest way to make quick meals is to have some cooking knowledge and experience up your sleeve so that you can throw something together from what’s in the fridge that turns out edible!

Sesame-tangerine soy curls with bok choy, bean sprouts and brown rice.

Red curry lentil stew with wild rice, brown rice and spinach.

Clean-out-the-fridge tofu scramble with shallot, mushrooms, tomato, broccoli, shredded carrot, alfalfa sprouts and leftover grilled potatoes.

Socca with herbed white beans, Daiya mozzarella, and balsamic roasted carrots and raddichio.  Socca is the best, you just mix equal parts chickpea flour and water, a pinch of salt, and a little olive oil if you want, then cook it like crepes!

Broiled tofu and roasted cabbage over brown rice with dulse flakes and sesame seeds.

And lastly, the SUPER simple.  I can’t tell you how many times over the past year I’ve come home from a workout and warmed up a veggie burger because it’s all I could muster!

Tofurky and hummus, my very favorite sandwich!

Grits, canned refried beans, salsa and pickled jalapeno.

Grilled Daiya mozzarella sandwich with tomato-miso-leek soup.

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On The Road Again

Unless you know me in real life, you probably don’t know that I used to be in a some-what successful ska-punk band in college.  We never got signed or made a whole lot of money, but we did go on a few tours, including one to the United Kingdom, and we had a whole lot of fun.  I’m in a different band now, and I never really thought I would go on tour again because we’re “adults” with “jobs” and “responsibilities”.  A band that we are friends with from Florida, Morningbell, contacted us a while back, asking if we would be interested in going on an eight day west coast tour with them.  We would provide and haul the gear, and they would do all the hard work of booking the tour and making arrangements.  The answer was yes!  It was a different kind of tour, because we were actually at home for three days in the middle as opposed to being gone the whole time.

The thing about tour is, you’re in it together.  You obviously spend a lot of time in the van, but you also spend a surprising amount of time just waiting around, and you have to kind of go with the flow.  My goal on the trip was to eat as much delicious vegan food as possible without being a pain to anyone else.  I have a lot of pictures, so I’m gonna split this into two posts.

I prepared for tour by stocking up on some snacks and breakfast items, so that I would only really have to worry about finding lunch and dinner each day.  Apples, fruit leather, cheddar crackers, emergen-c and stevia, english muffins, split pea soup, bananas, kale chips, pumpernickel pretzels, a pro bar, bragg’s-roasted almonds, and a few kinds of nut butter.  The paper grocery bag that held my food became known as my feedbag, as in “hey guys, can you see if there’s a banana in my feedbag?”.  I also took a bunch of big bottles of water so that I wouldn’t have to buy small bottles at gas stations, and we may have stashed a few bottles of two buck chuck.

I was particularly excited about these.

And these.

I tried the “kool ranch” kale chips on the way down to LA.  They didn’t taste particularly ranchey, but did have those undertones of garlic and onion, and were very tasty.  The whole bag only had 200 calories, and I could only manage to get through half of the bag as an afternoon snack.  Filling!

I was hoping to eat at either Veggie Grill or Real Food Daily before our show in LA, as both were relatively close to the venue.  What I learned quickly is that in LA, “relatively close” means count on 45 minutes in traffic, so sadly I didn’t get to either.  We stopped at a grocery store and I got what I could.

Apparently this is the part where we all look at our hands.

Morningbell

The next morning, I grabbed a soy latte from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a chain which seemed to be all over LA.

For breakfast, I tried the maple almond butter on an english muffin.  This stuff is the business.  Seriously, if all almond butter tasted like this I would eat it constantly.  Also, I learned that english muffins are hard to fork split without a fork.

Our lunch stop that day was at a stereotypical highway-side fast food mecca, and my choices came down to Subway or Taco Bell.  The veggies at Subway sounded really good, but so did the protein of a Taco Bell bean burrito, so I did what any normal person would do and got both.  No pictures, but the sandwich was possibly the best Subway I’ve ever had, due to the addition of avocado.

Upon arrival in San Jose we had about an hour until load in, so we checked out the Vietnamese place across the street.  On tour, you often have to eat what is close and easy.

Luckily, they had a few vegetarian dishes and I chose the tofu stir fry.  It wasn’t the most amazing stir fry every, but it was a warm and welcome addition to my tummy.

The show in San Jose was actually in a record store, Streetlight Records.  This is True Mad North, some of whom are old friends of Dave’s from high school.  I <3 these guys.

The next morning was Saturday, and I had to go in to work.  Well, they didn’t make me go, but there were some things I really wanted to take care of before I was gone for a whole ‘nother week, so I went in for a few hours.  As a reward for being dutiful, I treated myself to brunch at The Donut Farm.

Tofu scramble with spinach, mushrooms, herbs and green onion, hash browns and sourdough with house-made “butter”.  Sadly, they were out of the Dave’s Killer Bread they usually have, so I had to settle for sourdough.  My quest for Dave’s Killer Bread will continue in part II.

Apple fritter and coffee with coconut creamer.  I think I like Ronald’s apple fritters a little better, but really, if we’re ranking vegan apple fritters we’re splitting hairs.

I didn’t want to buy any groceries the two days we were at home, so it was mostly burritos and Chinese, which isn’t worth reporting since I eat them all the time!

The next day, we were fortunate enough to play a show at the Russian River Brewpub in Santa Rosa.

According to Barnivore, the beers brewed at the brewpub aren’t vegan, but the beers in bottles which are brewed off-site are.  So, bottled beer it was!  This redemption blond ale was really light and tasty.

Their online menu didn’t list a vegan pizza, but the in-store menu did.  This is “Mary’s Vegan Pizza”, which had spinach, artichoke, green pepper and olives.  It was a good pizza, but it really could have used a pop of flavor, like something spicy or sun-dried tomatoes or something.  Nevertheless, I’m not complaining any time I find something labeled vegan on a menu.

That’s all for today!  I’ll be back soon with part II, in which we went north to Portland and Seattle.

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VeganMoFo: OBR Week – Choosing Raw

My last (but not least) stop for OBR week is Gena of Choosing Raw.  Gena eats and blogs about what some might consider a “high raw” diet, with lots of raw foods and a good measure of cooked, healthy, whole foods.  I really like Gena’s approach to nutrition and health – In fact, just today she expounded on her personal balance between raw and cooked foods.  She is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, and she really knows her stuff.  While most of Gena’s posts are about food, she’s not afraid to write in-depth about her thoughts on vegan lifestyle, ethics and nutrition.

For my meal to really reflect the Choosing Raw philosophy, of course it had to be mostly raw!  I chose two recipes from Gena’s Autumn Dinner Party post, her Kale Salad with Red Cabbage and Carrots, and Beet “Ravioli” Stuffed with Sweet Root Vegetable Mash.  For dessert, I whipped up Basic Chia Seed Pudding.

First, the kale salad.  I would happily eat kale massaged with only olive oil and salt, so this was a step up in the world of kale salad for me.  The shredded carrot and red cabbage gave the salad a great crunch, while the smooshed up avocado made it all creamy and wonderful.  My only very minor complaint might be that it was a little too lemony for me, so next time I would 3 Tbs of lemon juice instead of 1/4 cup.  Surprisingly, this salad kept really well in the fridge for a few days.

Bad picture of good beet ravioli.  I was concerned that the filling would turn out too sweet, with sweet potato, agave nectar and cinnamon, but the turnip, coconut oil and dijon mustard kept the puree firmly in the savory world.  I had to add a bit of vegetable broth to get the mixture smooth, and it was still thick enough to sandwich between the beet slices.  While these ravioli were a little sloppy to eat, they were really delicious.  I ate some of the filling this way, some by itself, and some mixed in with oat bran for breakfast.

Raw-ish lunch, gettin’ cozy by the fire.

I was feeling very lazy the day I made this, so I ate the chia seed pudding out of the measuring cup I mixed it in.  I already loved chia seeds, so Gena didn’t need to convince me!  The pudding is easy to make; you just mix it all together and whisk every once in a while so that the seeds don’t clump.  My pudding tasted a little bitter, possibly due to the combination of stevia and vanilla extract, but it was still good.  Next time I would use agave nectar or maple syrup instead of the stevia, and maybe add some cocoa or pumpkin or something else extra.

Next week is Vegetarian Times week!  I’m hard at work preparing recipes from the last five years of Vegetarian Times.  Have a good weekend!

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More Personal Cheffing

For the rest of my externship, I did a few personal cheffing sessions.  I met with the client to assess their needs, planned the menu, grocery shopped, prepared the food in their kitchen, and cleaned up.  All of my “clients” were friends, so it was pretty fun!  Exhausting, but fun.

My first client was Miles.  Miles is a healthy, active guy, so I was sure to include plenty of protein and good fats in his meals.  He is trying to eat low gluten and low soy, so I took that into account as well.  I packaged his meals individually so he could grab them on the way to work.

For the first meal, I made the Quick Red Posole with Beans from Viva Vegan, served with Braised Brazilian Shredded Kale (also from Viva Vegan), toasted pumpkin seeds and quinoa with lime juice.  The kale is really great for such a simple recipe.

Since Miles strives to be mostly soy-free, he makes really interesting stuff like hemp tofu and Burmese tofu, made with chickpea flour.  He had prepared a batch of Burmese tofu, so I made Fragrant Burmese Curry with it.  The chickpea tofu held together much better than I expected.  I served the curry with brown basmati rice and roasted broccoli.

This is “tuna”-stuffed tomatoes with Italian pasta salad.  I used this recipe for the tuna, substituting hemp seeds for the sesame seeds and using an adaptation of this cashew mayonnaise recipe instead of prepared vegan mayo.  The pasta salad was based on this recipe, with gluten free pasta and Zesty Italian Dressing.  Miles didn’t care for the pasta salad much, but he said he loved the tomatoes.

My next clients were Alex & Kristin, an awesome couple who, apart from a few allergies and dislikes, aren’t too picky.  I packaged their meals for two, so that they could reheat and eat together.  (I forgot to bring my camera that day, so please enjoy the craptastic cell phone pics!)

Kristin reeeeeeally wanted lasagna, so lasagna she got.  I’m not sure I would make lasagna again for a client becuase it takes me forever to put together, but it was worth it to make her happy!  I based my lasagna on the recipe from Veganomicon, with the VCon marinara, spinach, tempeh sausage, and cashew cream with plenty of nutritional yeast.  I would’ve also added mushrooms, but they don’t like mushrooms.  The horror, I know!

This White Bean Salad with Mint was the side dish for the lasagna.  I’m not huge on fresh mint, but I think it was pretty tasty.

Atrocious picture.  I know.

Alex & Kristin love Indian food (who doesn’t?), so I made the Tamarind Lentils from Veganomicon and some saffron basmati rice pilaf.  Alex called it biryani, which I guess is what it was.  The slivered almonds totally made the rice.  I also made some kale saag, which tasted nice but photographed so horribly that I can’t bring myself to post it.  It’s unrecognizable as food.

To use some seasonal vegetables, I made succotash from a recipe I printed from Food Network’s website many years ago which doesn’t seem to be there anymore.  Instead of the bacon called for, I add a dash of liquid smoke.  I served the succotash with polenta cakes.  I wanted to do grit cakes, but the grocery store I went to didn’t have grits.

My last clients were Raelene and Wayne, and their adorable 2 1/2 year old daughter.  I packaged their food family style, which basically meant just putting the whole recipe away in the fridge or freezer.  I brought my camera that day but totally forgot to take pictures, and then left my camera there!  They were nice enough to take pictures on my camera when they tried the meals.  They wanted to eat kind of “light”, and they basically like everything, which made it easy to choose recipes.

First up, Quinoa-Corn Chowder and Classic Cabbage with Cilantro-Citrus Vinaigrette, both from Viva Vegan and both tasty and easy.

The next meal was Two-Broccoli Stir-Fry on Soba Noodles from Vegetarian Times, and Fat Free Vegan’s Double Mushroom Miso Soup.  I wanted this meal to be filling yet light, if that makes sense, and I also wanted to sneak in some seaweed :)

Lastly, we wanted to try freezing one of the meals, which worked out well since Raelene just had surgery (she’s fine), and they pulled it out of the freezer last night for dinner.

This is Curried Cauliflower Frittata from Vegan Brunch, with added spinach, and Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes from Veganomicon.  Looks like the served it with some chutney – Good call!

A few people have asked me about my experiences with the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College, so I thought I would share a few opinions here.  I enjoyed it overall, and I’m very glad that I did it.  Yes, It was difficult to attend the classes and complete the homework while still working full time, but I basically decided to dedicate my time and forgo a social life for six months.  The program is not vegan, but it is vegan-friendly, and I was never asked to taste or work with any non-vegan ingredients.  My classmates were super-cool about working with me and making sure I had enough to eat at the end of class.  The instructors were educated and experienced, and if they ever didn’t know the answer to a question they would find out before the next class.  If you’re vegan or vegetarian in the program, you do have to be okay with being around meat for a few classes, but you don’t have to work with it.  Also, you may have to listen to some talk about the merits of stuff like the Weston A. Price Foundation that you may not agree with.  Basically, you have to be understanding with your classmates, the same way you would want them to be understanding with you.  Overall, the program is extremely vegan/vegetarian friendly, and very approving of plant-based nutrition.  Also, because the program is a condensed six month program, you have to know going into it that you’re not getting the same education or experience that you would at a three-year culinary school.  In the end, I feel like I still have a lot to learn and to cook, but that I have a better basic understanding of food and nutrition, and a much better foundation in knife skills, cooking techniques, ingredient knowledge and kitchen timing.  Again, I’m very glad that I completed the program.  If you are considering attending Bauman and have any other questions about my experiences, e-mail me at jamboxrock AT hotmail DOT com and I’ll try not to take forever to answer!

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My First Try at Personal Cheffing

The very last component of the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College is the externship.  While many students completed their externships at restaurants or with catering companies, I chose to spend mine trying out personal cheffing, since it is what I am considering as a possible future career.  I recruited some vegan friends on The PPK who were interested in trying it out as well, from the client’s perspective.  In California, legally, food has to be prepared in a professional facility like a commercial kitchen, or in the client’s home, which is where personal cheffing comes in.

For my first assignment, I cooked a special dinner for Megan and her roommates.  The birthday boy’s favorite cuisines are Central American and Middle Eastern, and I chose to go Central American for the challenge, as I didn’t really have much experience in the area.  Note – This was before Viva Vegan came out, which would have made my planning a whole lot easier!  I did as much research as possible in order to present a somewhat-authentic meal.  I didn’t have time to take pictures, as I was serving each course plated, but Megan’s sister was kind enough to snap some shots.

First, I brought out Strawberry Agua Fresca and some South American beers.  BevMo didn’t have any Central American beers, so we had to settle for South.

The agua fresca was just strawberries, water, a little sugar, and lime juice blended up and strained.  Delicious!

The appetizer was chorizo-spiced mushroom papusas with curtido and hot sauce.

For the filling, I sauteed some diced mushrooms with a chorizo seasoning mix based on this recipe, then added some fresh cilantro as I stuffed the papusas.  The curtido recipe is from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.

I chose a cold soup that I could make ahead for the second course, to free up some burners and cooking time in preparation for the main course.

This is Mark Bittman’s Savory Cold Mango Soup.  Not authentically Central American, but close enough flavor-wise to go with the meal.  I wasn’t sure how well this would turn out, but the diners really liked it.

For the salad course, I chose Hearts of Palm Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette.  Except that the grocery store I went to, which is usually very well stocked, didn’t have hearts of palm.  So, it turned into an artichoke heart salad, which was probably just as good.  The recipe didn’t call for avocado, but I figured there oughta be avocado somewhere in the meal.

The entree was a large plate of food, and the diners were starting to get full by this point, but they tried their darndest to eat as much as possible!

This is Tofu Pepian, Gallo Pinto, Sauteed Kale and Roasted Plantains.  The pepian sauce is from this recipe.  It was really easy to make, and ridiculously flavorful.  It was my first time working with tomatillos, so I was pleased to find out that they are relatively easy to work with.  I breaded the tofu with the method of the Cajun Spiced Tofu from Yellow Rose Recipes.  I used this Gallo Pinto recipe, which was super duper delicious, and the kale was simply chopped and sauteed in a bit of oil with some salt.  The ripe plantains were tossed with some oil and roasted at 425F, just until they started to brown.

Dessert was the birthday boy’s choice…

Smlove Pie from Veganomicon.  This picture cannot express how amazingly delicious this pie is.  It’s somewhat time-consuming to make, but so very worth it.

After this meal I was exhausted and their kitchen was a mess, but they thoroughly enjoyed the meal and I learned a lot about planning and executing a catered dinner.  I’ll return soon to tell you about the rest of my externship experiences!

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March Cleanse: Days 8 – 14

I’m more than halfway through my cleanse, and so far I’ve done pretty well.  I slipped up one time, but other than that my self-control and preparation have been good.  And, I’ve lost a few pounds!

Day 8:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  sweet potato, celery, apple, chard and cinnamon
snack smoothie:  banana, pear, kiwi, udo’s oil, almond milk, hemp protein powder and Amazing Grass
lunch salad:  romaine leaves with broccoli-tahini pate from Raw Food Revolution Diet and buckwheat sprouts, two clementines


snack:  carrot sticks and hummus
dinner:  citrus-braised butternut squash and red cabbage with quinoa, chamamile tea

The broccoli-tahini was tasty, although it just kinda tasted like…broccoli and tahini.  I like the technique of pouring hot water over broccoli to “cook” it.  However, Dave said the pate smelled “like farts”, so I may or may not make it again!

Day 9:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  sweet potato, celery, apple, swiss chard and ginger.  This juice combo was extremely tasty!  Also had earl grey tea.
snack smoothie:  same as day 8
lunch:  same as day 8, but with tangerines instead of clementines
snack:  same as day 8
dinner:  same as day 8, detox tea

Lots of repetition that day…Makes it easier to follow such a strict plan.

Day 10:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  carrot, celery, apple and ginger, lemon tea
snack smoothie:  banana, kiwi, almond butter, almond milk and flax seed.  This was a surprisingly good combination.
lunch:  chef salad from Smart Alec’s (lettuce, cabbage, chickpeas, corn, carrot, tomato, sprouts, tofu and sesame dressing)
The salad kept me full for a while, so no afternoon snack.
For dinner, I met up with some PPK compatriots at Gracias Madre, a new vegan organic Mexican restaurant in San Francisco.  I had tangerine agua fresca (which tasted like tangerine juice without any agua), and the enchiladas mole rojo, which came with mushrooms, cashew cheese sauce, kale and refried beans.  Muy delicioso!

I got home from the restaurant pretty late, so I didn’t have time to prep much food for the next day.

Day 11:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast:  I was out of good juicing ingredients, so I had fruit salad with apple, pear, oranges and flax seed
smoothie:  Mango Cogo by Columbia Gorge Organic.  There was no added sugar, but it was almost too sweet.

lunch:  raw red pepper soup with avocado and the raw sampler from Cafe Muse.  For the sampler I chose the raw sushi, miso-coconut caesar salad and pad thai,which turned out to be a salad.  The dressing was really delicious on the pad thai salad, and the whole meal was under $12 with tax, so I will definitely go back and try more next time I don’t have a lunch to bring.

snack:  romaine leaves with broccoli-tahini pate
dinner:  same as day 9, wild sweet orange tea

Day 12:

water with lemon and chia seeds
juice:  carrot, celery, romaine, red apple, green apple
snack:  two tangerines, peanut butter, lemon green tea
lunch:  massaged kale salad with balsamic vinaigrette, dried cranberries and flax seed

I sorely underestimated how much food I would need that day, so I was still hungry after this salad and I ate some tortilla chips that were in the office.  They were soooo salty!
snack:  cranberry trail mix, sweet & spicy herbal tea
dinner:  white chili with potatoes.  This soup was really good, but I want to make it again to make it even better before I post a recipe.  I also had some hibiscus flavored kombucha.

Day 13:

water with lemon and chia seeds
breakfast juice:  cucumber, carrot, apple and ginger, mango black tea
smoothie:  banana, strawberries, hemp protein, amazing grass, udo’s oil, almond milk
lunch:  massaged kale salad with balsamic vinaigrette, cranberry trail mix and nutritional yeast, two pickles

snack:  popcorn, apple juice with sparkling water
Then, I caved in and had a few beers.  I was trying really hard to exercise self-control, but we were playing music and I caved!  Alcohol does aid the creative process…just sayin’…
dinner:  white chili with potatoes

Day 14:

I woke up late this morning, plus it was the start of daylight savings, so I skipped right to my smoothie.
smoothie:  same as day 13, lemon ginger green tea
lunch:  raw sprouted chickpea hummus, carrot sticks, broccoli, asian pear, cranberry kombucha.  In case you’re wondering, asian pear and hummus go together really well.

snack:  apple with peanut butter, mango black tea
dinner:  I was planning to have more chili, but Dave came home and wanted to go out, so we had Mexican.  I ordered veggie fajitas with corn tortillas, which wasn’t too bad, but I ate too many chips and salsa, as I always do.  I can’t help myself around chips and salsa.

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Pea Shoot-Mushrooms Dumplings & Kale Pesto Pasta

I must admit that when I got pea shoots in my CSA delivery for the first time, I had absolutely no idea what to do with them.  The leaves tasted nice plain, so I assumed they’d make a good salad, but apart from that I had no ideas.  So I did what I always do…I googled it.  From my extensive research I ascertained that they are good for two things – salads and asian food.  I saw some pasta ideas too, but I had other pasta plans already (see below).

Look how pretty!  I love the little tendrils, and I even got a flower.

Anywho, I decided to go the asian route and try my hand at dumplings.  As any vegan who has decided to make dumplings knows, most wonton wrappers aren’t vegan.  They all have egg.  Every darned one of them.  I figured to find a wrapper I could use I oughta take a trip to the asian market I had been eying for a while.

Their wonton wrappers had egg too, but lo and behold they had dumpling wrappers that were vegan.  Hooray!  I also bought rice noodles, sweet chili sauce, a pomelo (which I had never tried before), five spice powder, jackfruit and green onion.

Since I have just about zero dumpling knowledge, I went by this recipe  for vegetarian dumplings from Alton Brown, because I like AB a lot.   I subbed minced portobello and crimini mushrooms for the tofu and pea shoots for the cabbage, and left out the red bell pepper and egg.  I played around with two different shapes to see what worked best.

The dipping sauce is just sweet chili sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil, and I think I could probably eat an old shoe dipped in it, it was so good.

The dumplings were very tasty, and I was happy with how they turned out.  The only downsides were that the wrappers were a little thick, so the parts where the wrappers met were really chewy, and you can’t really make them ahead of time or eat them as leftovers.  They just don’t keep very well.

Since dumplings alone doth not a meal make, I also had some edamame and miso-mustard mashed sweet potatoes.  The potatoes were nice, but nothing to write home about.  Or write up a recipe for.

A few nights later, I used up the filling in a new shape.  I’m calling this one “the butterfly”.

Good, but still too doughy where the sides met.  I am no longer intimidated by dumplings though, and definitely want to have them again sooner than later.

My CSA is still sending at least two bunches of winter greens with every box, so I am always looking for new ways to eat them.  Not that I don’t like a nice plain steamed green, it’s just more fun to get creative.  I don’t recall how the idea of kale pesto popped into my head, but once it was there I had to have it.  I used this recipe, which called for walnuts instead of pine nuts.  I didn’t end up adding all of the olive oil called for, and used just less than a half cup of sesame parmesan.

Tossed with gluten free rotini and white beans for protein, this was a very tasty dish.  The pesto is much less zingy than regular basil pesto, although the garlic was intense at first.  It mellowed sitting overnight in the fridge, so leftovers weren’t quite so garlic-tastic.

I can’t seem to let myself eat just a bowl of pasta for dinner, even if it’s a very healthy bowl, so I also made a side salad to use up the rest of the pea shoots and mushrooms.

Along with the pea shoots and mushrooms, I added slivered red onion, some soy bleu cheese that was hanging around in the fridge, and some very thick tahini dressing.  For being so simple, this was one great salad.  The bleu cheese with the mushrooms and tahini dressing turned into something magical.

Well, the CSA sent me pea shoots again on Thursday, so I’ll be thinking up more ways to use them very soon!

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Presents On My Doorstep

One of the things I was very excited about when moving to the Bay Area was the proliferation of farmers markets and CSA’s.  Ever since I first heard of the CSA concept I knew I wanted in.  There was precisely one option in Gainesville, and I tried to sign up during my last six months in Florida, but there was a long waiting list to contend with.

So as soon as I had the room in my budget, I signed up for one here.  I looked around and compared, and the best choice for me was Farm Fresh To You.  They run their own farm, as well as sourcing from other local farms to round out the seasonal offerings.  You can choose the frequency of your deliveries (every two weeks for me), postpone a delivery if need be, request to not receive certain items if you don’t like ‘em, and best of all – they deliver!  To my door!  A lot of CSA’s around here require you to pick up, or charge for delivery, and with my schedule the way it is right now that wasn’t an option.  They also have different box options, including a smaller delivery, all fruit or all vegetable.  And apparently they have a permanent storefront in the SF Ferry Building, as well as appearing at multiple farmers markets.  And they send a newsletter with recipes.  Oh, and they post the contents of the box at the beginning of the week, so I can plan ahead and spend way too much time at work fantasizing about what I could make.

I think you can see where this is going.  I got my first CSA delivery.  And I love it.  I think I am going to have a long, happy relationship with all this produce.

There were far too many veggies to fit in one picture, so I went with green and not green.

salad greens, collards, bok choy, leeks, napa cabbage and dino kale

navel oranges, pinova apples, red potatoes, the largest butternut squash I have ever seen, and radicchio

I used the collards for my New Year’s Day meal, and the salad greens for…a salad.  Creative, I know.  The salad went with delivery pizza during the College Football National Championship game.  Go Gators!!!

I used the napa cabbage in some more fried quinoa, along with carrots and peas.  This fried quinoa wasn’t quite as good as the first time I made it, it was a little mushy.  I think the secret might be mixing in some rice.

I was interested in grilling the bok choy.  I found some recipes online that all included a sauce, but I wasn’t up for all that extra work, so I just sprayed them with some oil and grilled plain.  It was interesting – it has potential, but I definitely wouldn’t make bok choy again this way.  The leaves got nice and crispy, but the stems were undercooked and still crunchy, which wasn’t what I was going for.  This meal was better as leftovers, reheated in the microwave and cooked through a bit more.

I’m not a big fan of radicchio, especially raw, so I was very happy that the Farm Fresh To You newsletter came with a recipe for Radicchio and Squash Pappardelle.  I adapted it to be vegan, whole grain and lower in fat.  The taste is very simple; the sweetness of the squash, bitterness of the radicchio and heartiness of the pasta play nicely together.  It would be very good topped with toasted pine nuts or vegan parmesan.

Penne with Butternut Squash & Radicchio

2 Tbs Earth Balance
2 Tbs olive oil
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 1/2 cups)
3/4 lb radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
12 oz wholegrain penne

Melt butter and heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add radicchio, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until wilted and just tender, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook penne according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta.  Add pasta to radicchio mixture with 1/2 cup cooking water and toss over low heat until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add more cooking water to moisten if necessary.

Serves 4 to 5.

To go along with the pasta, I made a raw kale salad.  I’ve read about this technique to “wilt” kale without cooking, and when I saw a recipe on the Bauman College website I knew I wanted to try it.  The original recipe was for a main course type dish, so I made it more simple and side dish-like.

Raw Kale Salad with Oranges & Pecans

This would be good with dried cranberries or diced apples instead of oranges, or walnuts or pepitas instead of pecans.

1 bunch kale, cleaned, stemmed and finely sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs lemon juice
2 oranges, supremed
1 cup pecans

Place kale in a large bowl.  Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over kale.  Massage the mixture with your hands, kneading and squeezing until kale begins to wilt.  Add vinegar and lemon juice and toss with tongs to mix.  Divide kale between servings bowls and top with oranges & pecans.

Serves 4.

I knew I wanted to use the leeks and potatoes in a soup, and after searching through all my vegan cookbooks without finding the right recipe, I lucked out with Healthy Life Kitchen by Marilu Henner.  I bought this book on a whim because it was on super sale.  It isn’t exactly my style of cooking, and it includes fish and eggs, but every once in a while I find a nice, simple recipe like this one.

Potato Leek Soup

2 Tbs soy margarine
1 large bunch leeks, julienned
6 new red potatoes, cubed (I left the skins on, or you can peel them)
6 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup soy milk
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt
fresh chives

Melt the margarine in a large stockpot over medium-low heat and add the leeks.  Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until they have softened.

Raise the heat to high, add the potatoes and stock, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Transfer the solids to a blender or food processor and gradually add broth, pulsing until just pureed.  Return the puree to the pot.  Do not overheat.  Add soy milk, nutmeg, black pepper, and salt to taste.  Serve garnished with chives.

The recipe says it makes 8 servings, but for me it was 4.

To go with the soup I made the Smoky Grilled Tempeh from Veganomicon (the broiled variation) and boy oh boy was it every good.  The most juicy tempeh I have ever had.

As if the CSA goodness wasn’t enough, I got another present – my PPK December swap package!  My partner was Evan of Bjorked Off, and he sent some good stuff.

Homemade truffles, dark chocolate, mini Larabars, a photo, a cupcake postcard, Canadian maple syrup, and a pretty syrup-themed trivet that unfortunately broke in transit.  The truffles were amazing, as well as the one piece of chocolate I’ve eaten so far.  I’m not a huge fan of Larabars (can’t get into dates), but these mini bars were the perfect size for snacking without getting tires of the flavor.  The brownie flavor was good for the first bite, but after that it wasn’t very appealing to me.  The cashew cookie flavor was good all the way through.  I might even consider buying a normal size bar of that flavor.  There are people who are obsessed with Larabars though, so don’t take my word for it if you’ve never tried one!  Thanks Evan!

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Creative Sunday

Yesterday I awoke feeling particularly creative.  Creativity for me isn’t really coming up with new ideas or methods that haven’t yet been explored.  It’s much more of the literal translation, meaning I create things, even things that have been made before many times by many people.  I’ll start with the project that actually did entail a bit of thinking outside the box.

Some friends are getting married this weekend, and they had wine glasses on the registry.  I like gifts off registry lists because that way I know the recipient will definitely enjoy the present, but I also like to make it a bit more personalized, so it’s not just “here are the wine glasses from Target in the box they came in”.  I was perusing crafty wedding gift ideas on the internets, and came accross etched glass.  I’ve known there was a product that would create an etched look on glass before, but it’s not really my look.  However, the engaged couple sent out really nicely designed invitations, and it occurred to me that it would be really neat to etch the logo from the invitation onto the glasses.  I was hesitant, as this process would involve me being relatively artistic…I actually considered using the hoakie pre-made wedding stencils from the craft store, but non-hoakiness prevailed, and I purchased a blank stencil and an exacto knife.  All said and done, I am extremely pleased with the result, and hope the happy couple will be as well.  I also hope they don’t read this before Saturday.

etched glasses

On to the food.  I’ve seen a couple blogs that have saved veggie scraps to make broth at the end of the week, so I gave it a go.  Here’s the collection:

veggie stock

Half an onion WAY past its prime, half a serrano pepper, a shallot, a potato skin, and carrot stumps.  I also added kale stems, peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves.

Before…

veggie stock

and after, cooling…

veggie stock

You can see the color here.  I tasted it, but as I didn’t salt it I can’t really tell if it’s good.  It’s gotta be at least better than water.

veggie stock

I’m either going to use it tomorrow or freeze it for later.  I’m leaning towards using it, as my freezer is pretty full as is.

I used the kale that I pulled off the stems to try out the kale chips that the whole internet is raving about.  I used this recipe, and I liked them.  You really can’t imagine what they’re going to taste like until you make ‘em.  And they kept well in a baggie until today, although they were a bit chewier after sitting.  Still highly edible.  Next time I want to try them with a flavored seasoning, like bbq or spicy.  Can’t say I like them more than plain steamed greens (yet), but who knows how much they’ll grow on me.

kale chipe

On an unrelated note, I told my mom that I bought a melamine monkey plate, and she told me in an unapproving manner that they were meant for children.  And I was like “Yeah, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t have it too!”.  It was $1.99.  The real question is, how could I NOT buy it?

monkey plate

Here’s the monkey hosting my Sunday lunch.

monkey plate

No report on food from today.  I grabbed a falafel hummus pita on the way home from work so that we could get on campus as quickly as possible to get in line to see the Myth Busters speak.  They’re adorable.  And crazy.

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