Posts Tagged beans

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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Beet Hummus, Lots of Veggies, and Pancakes for One

I’ve been pretty busy lately, and I realized tonight that I’m going to be even more busy for the next two or three weeks, so I wanted to make sure to get a post in before I go haywire!

Here’s a CSA delivery I got way back at the beginning of June.

broccolini, rosemary, lettuce & bok choy

blueberries, peaches, beets, potatoes, cantaloupe & cauliflower

With the beets and lettuce, I decided to make beet hummus lettuce wraps, even though I had never had beet hummus before.  It just sounded good.

I topped the wraps with shredded carrot and daikon radish, which was a great idea.  Right around this time, I started counting calories and making an effort to lower the fat content of my meals and include more veggies, so you’ll see a lot of meals like this from me for a while.  That’s why this hummus is low-fat, with no tahini or oil.  I went back and forth trying to decide if I should include at least a little tahini, but in the end the beets made the texture and flavor so nice that it didn’t need any added fat.  I meant to include a clove of garlic but forgot, so that would be a nice addition.

Low-Fat Beet Hummus

1 bunch beets, about three large
1 15.5-oz can chickpeas, or 1 1/2 cups cooked
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 dash cayenne
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp minced fresh dill
3 Tbs water

1. Trim the beets, but do not peel.  Bring a medium pot of water to boil.  Add beets to water, cover, and simmer for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until beets are easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and let cool.  Once cool, peel the beets with the side of a spoon and chop.

2. Place beets and all remaining ingredients, except water, in a food processor.  Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as necessary.  Add water, 1 Tbs at a time, to reach desired consistency.

Servings: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 102.58
Calories From Fat (7%) 7.04
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0.84g 1%
Saturated Fat 0.09g <1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 311.27mg 13%
Potassium 334.15mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 20.61g 7%
Fiber 4.61g 18%
Sugar 4.72g
Protein 4.11g 8%

Lunch the next day, with leftover risotto and dried pears.

This is kidney bean and broccoli stem ragout.  I meant to use the broccolini in whole for this dish, but by the time I got around to cooking it, the poor broccolini was looking pretty bad, so I just used the thin stems.

With the ragout, I served rosemary-potato-cauliflower mash.  Adding the cauliflower was a nice way to still have potatoes but cut the calories a little.

Lunch the next day, with persian cucumbers and blackberries.

Next CSA delivery:  lettuce, carrots, zucchini, chard & cauliflower.

Tomatoes, strawberries, plums, cantaloupe, blueberries and nectarines.

With the return of summer and fresh zucchini, I returned to my spiralizer.  This is soba and zucchini noodles with carrot-ginger sauce, mung beans, long beans, cilantro and green onion.  I adapted the carrot-ginger sauce from this recipe, but to be honest I didn’t like it very much.  I think I just don’t like fresh carrot juice though, so if it sounds good to you, give it a try!  One great tip I did learn from this meal is that when you mix cooked soba noodles and raw zucchini noodles, you can barely tell the difference texture-wise.  It’s a fantastic way to extend the volume of soba noodles without adding a ton of calories.

Along with the noodles, I sauteed some purple kohlrabi.  I wasn’t going to have a side dish, but when I saw the kohlrabi at the farmer’s market that morning, I had to have it.  I love kohlrabi.

I had leftover carrot-ginger sauce and mung beans, so I combined them with short grain brown rice, arame and steamed broccoli for another meal.

One pot meals rule my world!  This is tempeh with leeks, carrots, swiss chard, mushrooms, capers, tomatoes, white wine and quinoa.  Delish.

To use up the last of the CSA veggies, I turned to Vegan Fire & Spice.  This is the Kashmiri Vegetable Soup.  Simple yet tasty, I really enjoyed the emphasis on cardamom in the spice mix.  You could add protein and greens to this soup and call it a complete meal.  And, because the veggies are cut into chunks, the prep was really fast.

Soup close up!

To go with the soup, I made Many Bean Salad, also from Vegan Fire & Spice.  This certainly lived up to the cookbook title – it was spicy!  I really liked the combination of beans and the addition of peas, which gave the salad a lovely texture.

A few Sundays ago, Dave left the house ridiculously early to attend a Nascar race up in Sonoma, and when I finally got out of bed I had a mad craving for pancakes.  Seeing as I’m doing this calorie counting thing, I wanted to make filling, relatively low-cal pancakes without having any leftovers.  I googled pancakes for one and came across this Buckwheat Pancakes for One recipe, which turned out fabulously.

I didn’t have any buckwheat flour though, so I used half whole wheat pastry and half quinoa flour.  They were a little gummy in the middle, but I actually like my pancakes that way.  Because I only had to cook one batch, these pancakes were much more quick to make than my usual recipe.  And, my entire breakfast was less than 350 calories, including the 2 tsp of blueberry agave nectar on top.  I will definitely be adding this to my weekend repertoire!

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Homework #4

The fourth section of the Natural Chef program at Bauman College focused on ethnic cuisines, specifically European Mediterranean, Levantine Mediterranean/North African, Japanese, Indian, Latin American and Thai.  Our homework assignment was to turn in one recipe representing each of these cuisines.  I figured that there are plenty of authentic recipes out there that are much better than I could do, so I focused on using the ingredients of each region in what might be a non-traditional manner.  I also wanted to make each recipe a one-dish meal to make things easier on myself.  Here they are!

White Bean & Vegetable Bake with Herbed Polenta Crust

If using dried herbs instead of fresh, be sure to use half the amount called for.  This is great for dinner, but also makes a good breakfast.

2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 leek, halved, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 bunch swiss chard, stems sliced and leaves chopped
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1/8 tsp celery seed
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 cup dry red wine
28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tbs capers
2 cups cooked white beans
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 cup polenta or coarse ground cornmeal
1/2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp minced fresh thyme
1/2 tsp minced fresh oregano
1/2 tsp minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp minced fresh parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place a large pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onion, carrot, leek, sliced chard stems and a few pinches of salt and sweat the vegetables for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are becoming translucent.  Add the garlic, fennel seeds, celery seeds and red pepper flakes and continue to saute for 2 minutes.  Add the wine, tomatoes and capers, turn up the heat slightly and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the chard leaves and white beans and cook for a few minutes, until chard is wilted and beans are heated through.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
3. Place the vegetable broth or water, polenta, herbs, salt and black pepper in a medium pot.  Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened.
4. Transfer the bean mixture to a baking dish and spread the polenta evenly on top.  Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool slightly before serving.

Servings: 6

Amount Per Serving
Calories 482.56
Calories From Fat (13%) 63.71
% Daily Value
Total Fat 7.22g 11%
Saturated Fat 1.14g 6%
Cholesterol 1.03mg <1%
Sodium 1353.81mg 56%
Potassium 1356.33mg 39%
Total Carbohydrates 83.8g 28%
Fiber 14.55g 58%
Sugar 8.4g
Protein 16.07g 32%

African-Spiced Rice & Lentil Salad

4 cups vegetable broth or water, divided
1 cup brown basmati rice
1 cup green lentils
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup raisins
juice and zest of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbs juice)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp agave nectar
5 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 large carrot, shredded
1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

1. Bring 2 cups of the vegetable broth or water to a boil in a medium pot.  Add the rice, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 40-45 minutes until rice is done.
2. In a separate pot, bring the remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth or water to a boil.  Add the lentils, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender.  If any water remains in the pot, drain the lentils.
3. Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Remove from the heat and add the dried apricots and raisins and soak for 5 minutes.  Drain and slice the apricots thinly.  Set aside.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing.  Whisk together the lemon juice, ginger, spices (coriander through cayenne), salt and agave nectar in a small bowl.  Drizzle in the olive oil slowly, whisking constantly.
5. When the rice is done, immediately transfer it to a large bowl.  Add the dressing and stir to coat.  Allow the rice to cool a little then add the lentils, apricots, raisins, cucumber, carrot and pistachios and mix well.
6. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Servings: 4 as a main or 8 as a side.

Amount Per Serving (for 4 servings)
Calories 604
Calories From Fat (33%) 196.38
% Daily Value
Total Fat 22.48g 35%
Saturated Fat 3.13g 16%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 259.09mg 11%
Potassium 956.01mg 27%
Total Carbohydrates 84.89g 28%
Fiber 19.12g 76%
Sugar 14.87g
Protein 18.79g 38%

(I forgot the scallions when I took the picture – it’s much prettier with them!)

Soba Noodle Stew

3 quarts water
2 pieces kombu
1/2 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
2 1/4-inch slices ginger, peeled
1/4 cup tamari
8 oz soba noodles, 100% buckwheat
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 medium heat napa cabbage, finely shredded
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1/4 cup white miso
2 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Place the water, kombu, dried shiitakes, ginger and tamari in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes then remove the kombu, ginger and garlic.  If the shiitakes are whole, remove them from the broth, allow to cool, thinly slice and return to the pot.
2. Turn up the heat and bring the broth to a boil.  Add the soba noodles, carrot, napa cabbage and rice vinegar.  Cook for 8 minutes, until noodles are done.  Remove from the heat and carefully ladle some broth into a small mixing bowl.  Add the miso to this broth and whisk until smooth.  Add the miso mixture and edamame to the soup and stir to combine well.
3. Serve the soup hot, sprinkled with the sliced scallions.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 322.04
Calories From Fat (9%) 30.45
% Daily Value
Total Fat 3.76g 6%
Saturated Fat 0.54g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2149.96mg 90%
Potassium 697.66mg 20%
Total Carbohydrates 63.43g 21%
Fiber 4.37g 17%
Sugar 3.46g
Protein 18.28g 37%

Chickpeas and Vegetables in Almond-Coconut Curry Sauce

1 cup almonds
1 Tbs virgin coconut oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs ginger, minced
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup water
13.5 oz can coconut milk
14.5 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, diced with juice reserved
1 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15.5 oz can
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 cups loosely packed spinach, rinsed and chopped

1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and have a bowl of ice water ready.  Add the almonds and boil for 1 minute.  Drain the almonds and plunge into the ice water until chilled.  Squeeze each almond to remove the skin, and pat off as much water as possible.  Place the almonds in a food processor and pulse until ground into the size of breadcrumbs.  Set aside.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the coconut oil, mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and cook for 1 minute, shaking the seeds around the pan.  Add the ground spices (garam masala through cardamom) and continue to cook for 1 minute, stirring the spices to distribute.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened.  Take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. Meanwhile, place the potatoes and water in a large, wide pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  You should be able to pierce the potatoes with a fork easily, but they should not be falling apart.
4. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender.  Add the coconut milk, tomato juice, salt and a few grinds of black pepper and blend until smooth.
5. When the potatoes are cooked, add the sauce, ground almonds and diced tomatoes to the pan and stir to combine.  Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until potatoes are soft and sauce is thickened.
6. Add the chickpeas, peas and spinach and cook for a few more minutes, until the chickpeas are heated through and the spinach is wilted.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
7. Serve hot, with basmati rice or flat bread if desired.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 634.33
Calories From Fat (50%) 314.73
% Daily Value
Total Fat 37.52g 58%
Saturated Fat 22.23g 111%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1050.61mg 44%
Potassium 1578.4mg 45%
Total Carbohydrates 65.46g 22%
Fiber 14g 56%
Sugar 9.08g
Protein 18.07g 36%

Mole-Style Sweet Potato Chili

1 dried ancho chile
4 prunes
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, juices reserved
1 Tbs virgin coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 small sweet potatoes or 2 large, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 tsp sea salt
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 avocado, diced
fresh cilantro

1. Wearing a glove if desired, use scissors to halve and stem the dried chile, shaking out as many seeds as possible.  Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Remove from the heat, add the chile and prunes and let sit for 30 minutes.  Drain.
2. In a food processor or nut grinder, grind the pumpkin seeds into a fine powder.  Transfer to a blender.  Add the drained chile and prunes and the juice from the diced tomatoes.  Blend until smooth and set aside.
3. Heat a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the coconut oil, onion and green pepper and saute for 8 minutes, until onions are becoming translucent.  Add the garlic, cumin, paprika and cinnamon and saute for 1 minute.  Add the sweet potatoes and salt and continue to cook for 10 minutes.  It is okay if the vegetables start to brown a little.
4. Add the chile mixture, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chocolate and vegetable broth or water and mix well.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the pinto beans and corn and continue to simmer for 10 more minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.  If the chili is not spicy enough, add a dash of cayenne pepper.
5. Serve the chili topped with the diced avocado and cilantro.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 465.91
Calories From Fat (27%) 125.9
% Daily Value
Total Fat 15.04g 23%
Saturated Fat 5.64g 28%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1488.2mg 62%
Potassium 1901.14mg 54%
Total Carbohydrates 78.29g 26%
Fiber 17.47g 70%
Sugar 17.77g
Protein 13.01g 26%

Mango and Rice Noodle Salad with Tamarind Baked Tofu

1 cup sweet tamarind pulp (from 4-5 large tamarind pods)
2 cups water
2 Tbs vegetarian fish sauce (recipe below)
2 Tbs tamari
juice of 1 lime (about 1 Tbs)
1/8 tsp sriracha
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 lb extra-firm tofu
7 oz rice noodles
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
1 mango, diced
1 bunch radishes (8-9 radishes), julienned
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup peanuts, lightly toasted and chopped

1. Place the tamarind pulp and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then turn the heat down to medium.  Simmer the tamarind for 30 minutes, occasionally using a fork to press the tamarind against the side of the pot, separating the flesh from the seeds.  Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl, using a spoon to push through as much tamarind flesh as possible.
2. Add the vegetarian fish sauce, tamari, lime juice, sriracha and ginger to the tamarind juice and whisk together.
3. Press the tofu gently with paper towels to blot off some liquid.  Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces, approximately 1/2 inch x 1/2 inch x 1 1/2 inch.  Add the tofu to the bowl with the tamarind mixture and submerge the tofu as much as possible.  Place a small plate on top of the tofu to weigh it down.  Marinate for at least one hour, stirring after 30 minutes.
4. Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and use tongs to move the tofu from the marinade to the baking sheet, reserving the marinade.  Bake for 20 minutes, flipping once after 10 minutes.
5. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is reduced by half.  Allow to cool completely.
6. Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles according to package directions.  Drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water until chilled.  Drain and set aside, shaking off as much water as possible.
7. Place the romaine, mango, radishes and cilantro in a large bowl, reserving some cilantro for garnish if desired.  Add the rice noodles and mix together with your hands, separating the rice noodles if they are sticky.  Pour the reduced marinade over the mixture and mix with your hands until well combined.
8. To serve, top the salad with the tofu, peanuts and reserved cilantro.

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 473.6
Calories From Fat (19%) 91.29
% Daily Value
Total Fat 10.56g 16%
Saturated Fat 1.51g 8%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1051.73mg 44%
Potassium 830.18mg 24%
Total Carbohydrates 82.84g 28%
Fiber 8.54g 34%
Sugar 28.22g
Protein 17.38g 35%

Vegetarian Fish Sauce
from the Bauman College Natural Chef Cookbook

1 cup dried seaweed (any kind)
2 cups water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/4 cup tamari
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbs brown rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp palm sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground garlic
1/8 tsp chili powder

1.  Add the seaweed and water to a pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer for 20 minutes.
2.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for another 30 minutes.
3.  Remove from the heat and cool.  Strain and use, or store in refrigerator.

Yield:  2 cups

I’d also like to share some of the food that we made during the ethnic foods classes…

There were two Mediterranean classes, encompassing western Mediterranean, the Levanth, and Northern Africa.

Cannellini Beans with Chard

Provencal Artichoke Ragout

Fennel, Orange and Mint Salad with Herb Roasted Olives

Baked Falafel with Tahini Sauce (my first time making falafel!)

Tunisian Beet Salad

Whole Wheat Pita Bread with Zataar

Fall Vegetable Tagine over Couscous

North African Carrots with Harissa

Levant-Style Stuffed Cabbage

Japanese class was seaweed-tastic.  Wakame salad.

Veggie Sushi

Kinpara Gobo (Burdock Root and Carrot)

Soba Noodles

Rice Balls with Umeboshi Plum

Indian class was super duper delicious, especially this South Indian Vegetable Curry.

Vegetable Biryani

Moong Dal

Latin America class was nice and spicy.  This is a Grilled Nopales Salad, made from fresh cactus.

Plantains

Mushroom Tamale with Mole Poblano

Lastly, Thai class…starting with Miang Kum, or Thai Lettuce Bites.

Tom Kah – Lemongrass and Coconut Milk Soup

Pad Thai!  I got my own little serving, without the egg and other non-vegan stuff.

Red Curry Squash with Jasmine Rice.  We made the curry paste from scratch and it was hard work, but the flavor was sooooo worth it.

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August Cleanse: Days 5-7

My cleanse is still going strong!  I’m still almost always hungry, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.

Day 5

My breakfast smoothie on day 5 consisted of banana, raspberries, kale, udo’s, almond milk and chocolate hempshake.  Very tasty.  I also took my multi and b complex supplement.  For a snack I had a peach, a pear and blueberry green tea.

For lunch, I topped the quinoa salad with black beans and mango with some perfectly ripe avocado, all served over spinach.  The avocado greatly improved the quinoa salad in my opinion, but really, what doesn’t avocado improve?

Afternoon snack was carrot sticks, cucumber and green pepper strips with more roasted eggplant and garlic hummus.

For dinner I made Brown Rice ‘n’ Beans Jumble-aya from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan with steamed green beans.  I bought the suggested file powder, but was worried that I wouldn’t like it when I smelled it cooking.  Luckily it balances well with the rest of the ingredients and I liked it just fine.  I don’t think I’ll be going crazy with the file powder quite yet though.  Also, the brown rice didn’t cook all the way in the 45 minutes cooking time called for.  I let it cook for 10 extra minutes and the rice was still quite al dente.  Overall, this is a very good dish that I would definitely make again.  After dinner I had peppermint tea and called it a night.

Day 6

This smoothie had basil, kale, blueberries, peach, chia seed and amazon acai hempshake.  Basil – weird, I know, but I had some basil wasting away in the fridge and nothing else to do with it so I decided to experiment.  I wouldn’t call basil in a smoothie good necessarily, but it wasn’t bad either.  The basil flavor was definitely big but not overpowering.  I want to continue experimenting, maybe with fresh ginger and some spices.  Along with the smoothie I took coQ10 and a multi.

The rest of Thursday was less interesting.  My morning snack was a plum, two apricots, almonds and coffee with unsweetened almond milk.  Lunch was more quinoa salad with black beans and mango, topped with avocado and served over spinach.  Afternoon snack was carrot sticks and cucumber with the last of the roasted eggplant and garlic hummus.  Dinner was leftover brown rice ‘n’ beans jumble-aya and steamed green beans, followed by wild sweet orange tea.

Day 7

Friday morning’s smoothie was kale, banana, blueberries, kiwi, orange juice, almond butter and flax.  Another odd combination, perhaps, but I was out of almond milk and this worked okay.  Also had the b complex and multi.  I poured up some coffee soon as I got to work, with unsweetened almond milk.

I took a morning snack to work and didn’t get a chance to eat it because we were having new student orientation.  It’s a pretty intense day for me, I basically answer questions non-stop and have to be “on” and smile all day.  It only happens twice a year though, and it’s fun getting to meet all the new students.  I finally got a little break at lunchtime, so I ate my snack of a pear and a nectarine, then had lunch, the last of the quinoa/black bean/mango salad over spinach.  Afternoon snack was carrot sticks, cucumber and celery with non-honey honey mustard dressing.  For dinner I had more of the jumble-aya with green beans.  I had intentions of exercising when I got home, but I was so beat after work that I quickly settled onto the couch with a beer, and had a few more as the night went on.  While watching a movie a few hours after dinner I realized I was absolutely starving, not the kind of hunger I could ignore.  I wanted some plain popcorn but didn’t have any, so I settled for a handful of dill pickle cashews.

One week of the cleanse done!  Other than time spent on food preparation it’s been easy so far, and I haven’t really experienced any cravings.  One noted benefit is that my skin seems to be clearing up.  Also, I lost just under three pounds!  In one week!  That’s really good for me, normally I have to be happy to lose ONE pound every TWO weeks.

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VCON On A Budget

When we got back from Vegas last month I had a serious need to curtail my spending until we got paid again.  But I also needed to eat.  So I poked around Veganomicon to see if I could find some recipes that made good use of what I already had in the house.

First, a CSA delivery from which many ingredients came.

red pepper, blueberries, apricots, peaches, Russian Banana potatoes, red onions, carrots and pattypan squash

green peppers, corn, basil, broccoli and lettuce

The first recipe I chose to make was Spaghetti & Beanballs, which I have been wanting to try forever.

I already had whole wheat fettuccine and a jar of sauce in the pantry (thought the fettuccine was actually spaghetti, but it doesn’t make much difference to me), so all I had to buy was a few ingredients for the beanballs.  The recipe calls for a 20 oz. can of beans, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen, so I bought two 15 oz. cans and intended to increase the recipe accordingly.  Except then I forgot and added the normal amounts of everything but the beans, only remembering when I was mostly done forming the balls.  I briefly considered mushing all the balls together and adding the missing components, but I just wasn’t up for it so I crossed my fingers and threw ’em in the oven.  I was really worried they wouldn’t hold together very well since the amount of vital wheat gluten was lower than it should’ve been, but in the end they ended up holding together fine, if maybe just a little more squishy than normal.  I really liked the flavor of these little guys, and I’m sure next time when I make them correctly I’ll love the texture too.

The next cheap-ish meal I chose was the Roasted Portobello Salad.  Portobellos were actually on sale!

I left off the avocado that the recipe calls for because it was like $3 an avocado, and I was trying to keep the fat content down anyway.  I chose some spinach to go along with the lettuce I already had, and I really liked the combination of the juicy portobello, red onion and chickpeas.  Overall, though, I wasn’t a huge fan of this salad.  Something in it was much too vinegar-y and tangy for me, and I’m normally okay with a lot of vinegar.  I’m thinking it was the dressing.  I also thought the salad could use something crunchy, so I sprinkled sunflower seeds on the leftovers and that helped.

To go with the salad, I made the Lemony Roasted Potatoes.  Not a winner either!  The potatoes were undercooked, even with 10 extra minutes cooking time, and the sauce didn’t thicken up like it was supposed to.  I also thought the dish was too oily.  I’ve seen rave reviews for both these recipes, so I don’t know if I was in some sort of cooking funk that day or if they just weren’t right for me, but either way I probably won’t make either of these again.  The beanballs though, they are great!

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Another Saturday & Laptop Lunches

Another weekend, another excuse to invite everyone to our house for football and the fight.  I’m exhausted, so I’m gonna keep this one as short as possible.

Our guests included two vegan friends (yay!) so I made sure to offer plenty.

Veggie tray with homemade ranch.

Fiesta Macaroni (except not) Bean Salad, one of my favorites from La Dolce Vegan.  This was vegan AND gluten-free and nobody suspected a thing.

Cheater Baked Beans from VCON.  I like to add a bit of sugar, hot sauce and liquid smoke or worcestershire.

All of these dishes were a little routine since I wanted them to be “omni-friendly”, but here was the real winner:  Ricki’s Portobello Steaks.  I grilled the mushrooms after marinating, sauteed some sliced red onion, added the remaining marinade and thickened with cornstarch because I’m impatient.  While the reduced marinade was strongly flavored, it was delicious and I’m glad I took the extra step.

These mushrooms were huge!

Here’s my plate, with some sauce on the mushroom.

I was going to make butterscotch blondies for dessert but I ran out of time, so instead I give you two bonuses…beer and cat.

Here we have Stone Vertical Epic Ale, Anchor 2008 Christmas Ale and Piraat Ale.  The Stone and the Piraat were belgians, and while they were good I don’t remember any specifics other than their high alcohol content.  Belgians aren’t really my thing.  The Anchor was really good.  I highly recommend it, especially since it’s seasonal and you won’t be able to get it for very long.  I mean, look at the bottle!  It was so pretty that I felt bad opening it.

Here’s a shot of Mr. Jake on Saturday in a sun spot.  I thought the shadows of the blinds and his stripes made a really nice pattern.  And he actually stayed still long enough for me to get a good number of shots!

On to last week’s Laptop Lunches.

11-10 pizza & salad w/ carrot, celery & goddess dressing

Tuesday was a holiday!


11-12 cauliflower-millet mash, roasted fall veggies, celery sticks & almond butter, grapes

I took this lunch Thursday but we ended up going out, so I ate it Friday.


11-14 wheat wrap w/ hummus, grilled eggplant & zucchini, lettuce,
tomato & pickle, cucumbers w/ tahini dip, kiwi

That’s it for last week, and it for now.  Bianca from Vegan Crunk tagged me for a meme that I was going to do tonight, but for whatever reason I’m too tired to think about anything, much less seven whole interesting things about myself.

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VeganMoFo: Adzuki Beans & Winter Squash Saute

I made my way to Whole Foods today to get the ingredient I couldn’t find in town (adzuki beans), and so I made another recipe from my list – Adzuki Beans & Winter Squash Saute from Vegan Planet.

I had my doubts about how good a recipe like this would be, as there were only six ingredients, one being water.  But I wanted to try adzuki beans, and it seemed like a nice, simple way to introduce myself.  I’m glad I tried this recipe.  The tamari and shallots did something magical to the carnival squash, and the adzuki beans were a nice complement.  I’m not in love with the beans after my first try, but they’re tasty enough.  It was my first time trying a carnival squash too, it tasted kind of like acorn squash.

Plain steamed brussels sprouts on the side.  I normally roast my brussels, but bf and I had like four kitchen projects going on at the same time and the oven was occupied.  I had planned to make brown rice to go along as well but I didn’t remember until it was much too late, so I took a cue from Katie at Chocolate Covered Vegan and made savory oat bran.  It’s good!  I treated it like I do grits, adding a bit of earth balance, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and parsley.  It kind of tasted like grits.  Oaty grits.

A lot of people say the same thing about Vegan Planet, that it’s such a big cookbook that they rarely actually make anything out of it.  I say take a look and give it a try!  I’ve made six recipes from VP now, and they were all excellent.  I’ll surely be digging through for more recipes to try soon.

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