Posts Tagged curry

VeganMoFo: Semi-Wordless Wednesday

Polenta Rancheros from Vegan Brunch

Tamarind BBQ Tempeh & Sweet Potatoes from Appetite for Reduction

Goddess Nicoise Salad from Appetite for Reduction

Tempeh Pot au Feu from Vegan on the Cheap

Brussels Sprout-Potato Hash from Appetite for Reduction with leek & dill quinoa

potatoes with pumpkin-cheese sauce, bacon bits and green onion

Thai Roasted Root Vegetable Curry from Appetite for Reduction

Creamy Picatta Pasta, roasted vegetables & swiss chard

Kidney Bean & Sweet Potato Jamba Stew from Appetite for Reduction

Ye’abesha Gomen, Mushroom Tibs, and Ethiopian Millet from Appetite for Reduction

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Appetite For Reduction – Review & Giveaway

When I first heard about Appetite For Reduction, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s latest cookbook, I knew it would be right up my alley.  The recipes are similar to how I usually cook – whole foods, high flavor, low fat and calories.  I bought the book a few weeks before Christmas and having been cooking from it since.  Most of the recipes I’ve chosen so far have been based on what has been in my CSA deliveries, and there are a lot more recipes I look forward to trying.

Broiled Blackened Tofu.  You just coat the tofu with the spice mix and broil it.  Simple and tasty!

Butternut Coconut Rice.  Mixing in mashed butternut squash is a smart way to make rice yummy and coconutty without adding a lot of fat.  The only thing I would change with this recipe is to dice the shallot instead of slicing it, because the long slices were  kind of weird compared to the texture of the rest of the dish.

Pineapple Collards.  This maybe doesn’t look too appealing because my ginger was stringy, but the flavor is great.  I just wish I had used more collards, because the pineapple/garlic/ginger combo was a little overpowering.  Plus, I wanted to eat more of it.

All packed up to take for lunch.

Curried Cabbage & Peas, served with quinoa.  The texture on these veggies was great – they were cooked enough to be tender, but still have a bite to them.  The curry flavor isn’t incredibly complex, but the dish comes together really quickly, so I’m not complaining!

Not from AFR – I ate this Romanesco Carrot Salad with the curried cabbage.  The recipe was in my CSA’s newsletter, and it was a nice way to use the romanesco.

Irish Stew with Potatoes & Seitan.  This was a bust for me, but not due to the recipe.  I used the steamed white seitan from Viva Vegan, and even after being sauteed the seitan was squishy like raw dough, and really unpleasant to eat.  I’ve heard about other people having trouble with the seitan recipe, and also others who have had success, so perhaps it was just me.  I picked all the seitan out, and the stew was pretty good.

Tempeh Helper.  This is one I was really excited about.  The recipe is posted here, on The PPK blog.  This is super good!  It tastes like junk food from a box, but isn’t junky at all.  I was skeptical about the technique – you cook the pasta and other ingredients in a pan with a smaller amount of water than normal – but it worked out well.  The pasta came out al dente, and the water cooked off without the dish getting dry.  Next time I want to crumble the tempeh more finely so it’s spread throughout the dish.

The Gravy Bowl, slightly modified.  I know how to put together a “bowl” on my own, but the suggestions in the three-page bowl section are good when you’re looking for something easy to throw together.  Brown rice, baked tofu, steamed kale and collards and silky chickpea gravy.  The gravy is not as flavor-intensive as some gravies, but for a gravy made with 1 teaspoon of oil it’s darned good.

Sushi Roll Edamame Salad.  I’m no stranger to the sushi salad.  I had tried this salad previously at a potluck, so I knew how good it was, which is why I was surprised that mine didn’t taste as good.  I think I put too much green onion in the dressing (maybe my onions were particularly strong), and then added more as garnish, and the onion overpowered the whole thing.  Less green onion next time, and it will be great.

Orange-Scented Broccoli, which I served alongside the sushi salad.  This one was not my favorite; it tasted like ginger, garlic, broccoli and orange separately, as opposed to coming together as one big flavor.  It was more cohesive as leftovers the next day, after the flavors had a chance to meld.  Still, next time I would probably just steam the broccoli.

Morrocan Chickpeas & Zucchini served with Caulipots.  I used some early-season, tender zucchini in this dish.  The flavor in this soup is fantastic.  It’s really easy to make, and turns out with a really wonderful spiciness throughout.  The caulipots (mashed potatoes made partly with cauliflower) were a nice, creamy counterpart.  I looked forward to eating these leftovers each day.

Butternut-Apple Soup and Fresh Corn & Scallion Cornbread.  Sadly, this soup was another dud for me.  It’s not a bad recipe by any means, just a matter of taste.  I think I’m learning that I just don’t like apples in soup.  The cornbread was nice dipped in the soup, and the whole corn kernels made for good texture.

Lastly for today, Yam & Black Bean Soup with Orange & Cilantro.  I wasn’t expecting anything amazing from this recipe, so I was pleasantly surprised that it tastes amazing!  The simple ingredients combine to make one wonderfully tasty soup.  The two serrano peppers really turn up the heat, and the orange juice keeps it fresh.  I baked some corn tortilla chips for dipping.

Considering how much I’ve enjoyed the recipes I’ve made so far, this might be the first cookbook that I end up making almost every recipe from.

Luckily for you guys, my mom is an excellent present-buyer.  She also knew that I would love AFR, and bought me a copy for Christmas, which I am now passing on to one of you!  And, I got the book signed when I had the pleasure of attending a cooking demo that Isa did a few weeks ago.  She made the Thai Roasted Root Vegetable Curry and Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits, both of which I now want to make myself.

To enter to win this copy of Appetite For Reduction, leave a comment on this post with a healthy cooking tip.  It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just any tip for cooking healthy vegan food.  The contest will be open until midnight PST this Wednesday, March 9, and I’ll pick a comment at random.  Please be sure to include your e-mail address (unless I’m able to find it by following a link to your blog).  I’ll be back on Thursday to announce the winner and show you a few more recipes I’ve made from AFR.  Good luck!

PS – I should mention that this is open to residents of the US and Canada only.  Sorry, everyone else!  If shipping was less costly, I would love to send it around the world!

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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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Laptop Lunchbox Around the World

I’ve gotten back into the habit of taking my Laptop Lunchbox to work a few times a week, and I’ve been enjoying it.  To celebrate, I thought it would be fun to prepare a few of the menus from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World, which I purchased a while ago but hadn’t cooked from yet.  I picked the menus to use what I had received in my CSA delivery.

First up was Thailand #1:  Pad Thai, Red Curry Vegetables, Thai Cucumber Salad and an Asian Pear

For being so simple, the red curry vegetables were really good.  The cucumber salad was your standard asian cucumber salad, light and fresh.  The pad thai component was supposed to be from a boxed pad thai, but my grocery store didn’t have a vegan brand, so I chose peanut noodles instead and added some tofu.  The noodles weren’t very good, but that wasn’t the cookbook’s fault.

Next up, Germany:  Cabbage Rolls, Beet Salad, Applesauce and Spitzbuben cookies.  Except I didn’t feel like I needed cookies, so I subbed some pretzels and chocolate.  Pretzels and chocolate are German, right?

I was super happy with this lunch.  The beet salad was really simple to make and really tasty.  The cabbage rolls, with a filling of walnuts, chickpeas and brown rice, were surprisingly good.  I thought the recipe was a little simple, but was really pleased with how the flavors came together.  And, the filling held together nicely without any crazy binders.

Nummy cabbage rolls!

For my last themed lunch, New England:  New England Chowder, Fish Crackers, Boston Brown Bread Muffins with Vegan Cream Cheese and a Pear.  I thought the meal was a little carb heavy and protein light, so I cut out the crackers and added some fishy tempeh – tempeh marinated in vegetarian fish sauce.

I also added some cherries to fill the fourth position because, well, cherries are fantastic!  The chowder was good but maybe a little bland.  I felt like it could’ve used some flavor of the sea, say, from seaweed, but I guess that wouldn’t be very kid friendly.  The brown bread muffins had fantastic flavor, but were undercooked in the middle, which was probably my fault.

Here are a few more lunches.

shirataki noodles with sugar snap peas and mushrooms, baked tofu, celery

sourdough bread, Amy’s lentil vegetable soup, carrot sticks, soy nuggets with barbecue sauce, pecan cranberry clusters

roasted cauliflower, springtime risotto with asparagus and fresh peas, salad with french dressing, prunes and dried apricots

One day when I didn’t have a whole lot of food to take, I packed this cute little bento box which I had never used.

Bottom layer:  kiwi with radish flowers, carrots and celery, mixed nuts and mini chocolate chips.  Top layer:  steamed broccoli with mustard-apricot sauce, brown rice and chickpeas with gomasio.  This was tasty and fun, but really small!  I don’t know how people eat this tiny amount of food and aren’t still hungry!

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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 22-30 & Wrap-up

I’ve been putting this post off because I knew it was going to be a monster, and also between preparing for a friend to visit, said friend’s visit, and preparing for Dave’s birthday party this weekend I’ve been a very busy girl.

Day 22

This breakfast smoothie had banana, strawberries, peanut butter, flax, cocoa, agave, coconut milk.  This is probably my favorite smoothie combination, and for that reason I don’t let myself have it very often.  Saturday mornings are a good excuse!  I also took my multi and coQ10 and had coffee with coconut milk.  After breakfast I headed to the farmers market with no particular plan in mind.

kale, spinach in the back, persian cucumbers, celery, corn and okra

blueberries in the bag, peaches, baby eggplants, carrots, shallots, zucchini (they’re yellow and light green!), multicolored potatoes and a canary melon

When I returned home I had napa cabbage salad with spicy peanut sauce and smoked tofu.  I skipped my morning and afternoon snacks to keep it light in preparation for the evening’s activities – a vegan potluck housewarming party hosted by Megan and Kelly, The Sisters Vegan!  I decided in advance that I was going to cheat on the cleanse a little bit (how could I resist trying everything at a vegan potluck???), so I tried to make my contributions as healthy as possible.  I made my Potato & Fava Bean Salad with Miso-Mustard Dressing, except there were no favas at the farmers market so I went with lima beans instead.  A good substitution, but not at all the same as favas.  I didn’t get to snap a picture of the dish because I was running late.

I also wanted to make a wheat- and sugar-free dessert, so I consulted Diet, Dessert and Dogs and found a good looking recipe for Jam-Filled Turnovers.  Of course, I didn’t have any sugar-free jam at home, so I made my own and it probably wasn’t quite thick enough.  I also didn’t have coconut oil and couldn’t get any without driving almost an hour round trip, so I substituted canola oil and hoped for the best.

They didn’t turn out so well.  I could tell when I rolled out the dough that it was much too oily and soft, but I tried to put together some cookies anyway.  They were edible for sure, but not potluck party worthy, so I bagged ’em up and left ’em at home.  I don’t think this is the recipe’s fault at all – I think it’s a good recipe and I just made bad substitutions.

Oh, did I forget to mention that while I was baking and cooking I had two vodka tonics?  Yeah?  Well, there it is.  Again, that’s what Saturdays are for!  I had a great time at Megan and Kelly’s place, their house is super-cute!  Here’s my plate o’ food.

Sorry for the crazy redness, I couldn’t get my camera to take it any other way.  From top left going clockwise, this is hummus and some jalapeno sauce with pita chips, a delicious bagel bite with the new Daiya cheese made by Melisser, fruit salad, pesto pasta, my potato-lima bean salad, part of a sundried tomato scone, part of a blueberry muffin, and TWO types of corn dog nuggets with an awesome spicy-sweet mustard.  (Thanks for sharing wheat products with me Melisser!)  This was a really great meal, and far more than I should have eaten.  Now I see why people rave about those sundried tomato scones – so good!  I didn’t take a picture of dessert, but if memory serves me I had a snickerdoodle, a small chocolate thing (truffle?), a brownie, and there may have been another cookie involved.  This is why I shouldn’t wait almost three weeks to write blog posts.  Aaaand I had a few beers at the party too.

Day 23

Sunday morning, I didn’t have anything I wanted to put in a smoothie, so I made fruit salad.

Strawberries, banana and grapes with flax meal.  I also had coffee with coconut milk, a multivitamin and b complex supplement.  Lunch was napa cabbage salad with spicy peanut sauce and smoked tofu, along with spirulina and (four) jam turnover cookies.  Afternoon snack was a grapefruit.  I was planning on leftovers for dinner, but when I went to pick Dave and a friend up from bart and he suggested that he might pay for taqueria if I took them…

…this happened.  Rice, beans, salsa and chips.  It’s technically cleanse friendly, except for the rice not being whole grain.  It was also technically delicious.  Along with dinner, I had a beer or two.

Day 24

I woke up with a raging headache Monday morning and decided to stay home from work.  I don’t get migraines or anything, but I could tell this was the kind of headache that was going to stick around all day.

Luckily, I had already prepped my smoothie with spinach, banana, raspberries, chocolate hempshake, udo’s oil and coconut milk.  I also took my multi and coQ10 and had blueberry green tea.

For a snack, I cut into the canary melon from my CSA.  I had never had canary melon before, but apart from the bright yellow rind, I’d say it’s really similar to honeydew.

Lunch was the last of the napa cabbage salad with spicy peanut sauce and smoked tofu, as well as a probiotic, two blueberry jam turnovers and wild sweet orange tea.  My afternoon snack was also what I had prepped to take to work – carrot sticks, squash slices, red bell pepper and cucumber with white bean pesto dip.  Dinner was the last of the sesame tofu scramble with greens, yams, mushrooms and dulse over savory oat bran, two blueberry jam turnovers and camomile tea.  I was feeling much better by the end of the night and was able to work on some food for the next day.

Day 25

I was running late for work, so no picture of the smoothie, but it had spinach, banana, strawberries, berry pomegranate hempshake, udo’s and coconut milk, and I took a multi and b complex.   Morning snack was canary melon, a nectarine and black tea.  Also no picture of my lunch salad, which had leaf lettuce, baby romaine, mexi-millet from Veganomicon, black beans, guacamole and salsa.  There’s a picture below under Day 26 of basically the same salad.  I also took a spirulina with lunch, and my afternoon snack was carrot sticks, red bell pepper and cucumber slices with white bean pesto dip.

For dinner, I made a curried stew with many of the veggies I bought at the farmers market, plus some stuff hanging around the fridge.  This stew included onion, garlic, ginger, red jalapeno, curry paste, zucchini, eggplant, okra, corn, swiss chard, coconut milk, tofu and cilantro.  I was really happy with how this turned out and kind of wished I had written down a recipe.  After dinner I had two blueberry jam turnovers and wild sweet orange tea.

Day 26

This very tasty smoothie included spinach, banana, raspberries, vanilla rice protein, almond extract, udo’s, almond milk and agave.  I really liked adding the almond and vanilla flavors, and also took my multi and coQ10.  The morning snack was a peach, canary melon and black tea.

Here is a picture of the salad mentioned above – leaf lettuce, baby romaine, mexi-millet, black beans, guacamole and salsa, with bonus cilantro and green onions.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the mexi-millet, but I quite liked it.  It was nice and flavorful and moist.  With lunch I took a probiotic, and had almonds for an afternoon snack.

The curried stew thickened significantly sitting in the fridge overnight, but still tasted great.  After dinner I had the last four blueberry jam turnovers and sugar plum spice tea.

Day 27

Thursday was a great day, if only because I was taking Friday off to hang out with our friend Mike who was visiting from Florida.  This smoothie was made from spinach, banana, strawberries, chocolate hempshake, udo’s and almond milk, and I took my multi and b complex.  At work, I had coffee with almond milk and more canary melon.  Lunch was a similar salad to the day before, with leaf lettuce, baby romaine, mexi-millet, black beans, avocado, salsa and lime juice, and I had almonds for an afternoon snack.

After work I headed downtown to pick up Dave and Mike, who had been afternoon-bar-hopping, and went straight home to have time to prepare for our first fantasy football draft.  I always get really nervous before drafts for some reason, so I cracked open a beer pretty soon after arriving home to sooth my nerves.  After a few beers and what I consider a pretty good draft, I had more of the curried summer veggie stew.

Day 28

Friday morning I slept in, and we were too busy chatting and planning our day’s activities for breakfast.  To introduce Mike to the taqueria experience, we went pretty soon after they opened for what would have to be considered brunch.  I had chips and salsa and a taco salad (lettuce, tomatoes, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa).  I took only a few nibbles of the fried tortilla taco shell.  We stopped by the grocery store to pick up tailgating supplies for the Giants game, and upon returning home I had coffee with almond milk.

We left for San Francisco in the early afternoon to meet Dave’s bandmate Brendan at Anchor Brewery, where he works.  He was finishing up a tour, just in time to give us a few samples and our own private tour!  It was very cool to see the inner workings of Anchor.

My food at the tailgate and game weren’t nearly as interesting as the game itself.  For a snack and dinner I brought a peach, a banana and leftover curried summer veggie stew.  In the game I snacked on some peanut, pistachios and a few garlic fries, and of course I had a few beers.

Photo essay on the wonder that is Tim Lincecum:

I love watching Lincecum pitch, but I’ve gotta say that the kid needs a haircut!

Dave and me after the game.

Day 29

I was seriously running out of fresh fruit by Saturday morning and had no time to shop, so this smoothie included baby romaine, banana, blueberry jam leftover from making the turnovers, mango pomegranate amazing meal, udo’s and  almond milk.  We were leaving for the whole day, so I took all my supplements in the morning too – multi, coQ10 and probiotic, and had coffee with almond milk.

The reason we were leaving was to go to our second fantasy football draft, at Dave’s cousin’s house about an hour away in Manteca.  Manteca also happens to be home to Taqueria Menteca, the sister restaurant to Taqueria Ripon, which is my second favorite place for Mexican food in the world next to Las Margaritas in Gainesville, FL.  I had had enough with taco salads and just went for the burrito.  However, I still tried to be good by cutting it in half and saving part for later that night.  It was nice to have leftover burrito, but that didn’t stop me from grabbing some handfuls of pretzels and tortilla chips.  We had some beers during the draft, and afterwards headed to a luau party also going on in town.  I did the limbo, tried to hula hoop, and had two veggie spring rolls prepared by the hostess for me and the one other vegetarian there.

Day 30

We got home really late Saturday night, and I slept in far past breakfast time on Sunday.  I was really, really out of fruit anyway.  I skipped straight to lunch and had another mexi-millet/avocado/black bean salad, as well as my multi, b complex, spirulina and coffee with almond milk.  Even though our guest was still in town, I needed to go grocery shopping to prepare for the coming week.  He wanted to go shopping for souvenirs, so we headed to Berkeley and he explored Telegraph Ave while I went to Berkeley Bowl.  When I picked him up we were both hungry and feeling too lazy to cook, so we picked up some Japanese food from a place just north of campus.  I had inari sushi and soba noodle soup with tofu and veggies.  It was quite bland, but I was hungry enough to not care much.

Conclusions

I figure I’ll report some conclusions, for anyone who might want to do a cleanse like this, or just for anyone who is curious.  I gained a bit of weight the last week (I suspect it was the lack of exercise and extra beers while our friend was visiting), but overall I was still just over three pounds down which is pretty good for a month.  After going back to “normal” with exercise and eating I dropped back down a bit fairly quickly.

Energy-wise, I didn’t feel any difference.  This was one area I was hoping to see a difference.  I get a good amount of sleep and have decent energy all the time, but I was hoping between the b complex and coQ10 supplements, healthy eating and exercise I would feel energized.  Not so.  I still needed my caffeine every morning and had those evenings here and there where all I wanted to do was sit on the couch.

Digestion.  I thought for sure my digestion would be great on this cleanse.  In reality, my digestive system was…ahem…unhappy the whole time.  Soon after starting the cleanse I noticed my…ah…number two was not in a good state, and this continued through the whole month.  For someone who normally does well in this area, this was a definite negative result.  I also had digestion pains a few times, probably from increasing the amount of raw vegetables I ate.

The other negatives were the amount of time spent prepping food, and the amount I spent.  My grocery bill was a full 30% higher than normal for the month.  I’m sure this was due mostly to buying supplements and a ton of fresh, organic fruit.  I felt like I spent a LOT of time prepping, especially for my daily lunch salads.  I was very happy when I could go back to taking dinner leftovers for lunch.

One positive was that cutting out wheat forced me to try new grains.  I tried buckwheat for the first time ever and liked it, and gave millet another shot after having it only once and not being a fan.  I will keep these grains, as well as spelt flour, regulars in my diet.  I was also shocked to find out how many products I was eating regularly had sugar.  All types of soy yogurt, for instance, are made with sugar.  So is soy creamer, and a few other products that I regularly consumed.  I’m going to stay off yogurt and take a probiotic supplement every once in a while instead, but I’m going back to creamer full force.  Coffee is just no good to me with “regular” milk.  Creamer is a deal breaker.

One rule I will continue to stick with for weight loss purposes is alcohol on weekends only.  It’s a good policy for me that keeps me from having a glass of wine on Tuesday here, a beer on Thursday here…it certainly aids in keeping my calories down.  I’m also continuing to exercise four to five days a week, and have started weight training again in addition to cardio.

Overall, I’m happy I did the cleanse (even though I “cheated” more times then I would’ve liked to), if for no other reason than to prove to myself I could do it!

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Random Meals & Laptop Lunches

I feel like I lost my cooking mojo there for a few weeks in July and had a hard time figuring out what to eat, so I have no theme for this post.  The theme is random!

What does one do when one has leftover filling from tomato-basil-mozzarella sandwiches but no bread?

One makes tomato-basil-mozzarella bites.  Yum!

This is a secret risotto that I tested for a friend to submit to a recipe contest.

CSA delivery…

Corn, yellow onions, peppers & lettuce mix

Grapes, red onions, peaches, tomatoes, cherries & an eggplant

I like eggplant but don’t always like cooking it.  It seems like most eggplant cooking techniques use a lot of oil, so I wanted to do something different.

My solution was eggplant and lentil curry.  This had a whole can of light coconut milk in it, so it wasn’t exactly low fat anyway…but I tried!

Thinking back, I don’t really know why I did this, but I made a little slaw to go with the curry.  This had carrot, celery and broccoli stalk and a Vegennaise-based dressing.  (Again, so much for keeping the meal low-fat!)  Oh, I think I made it cause I had broccoli stems that needed using…

I wanted to make a salsa with the corn and tomatoes, so I made some mostly-raw lettuce tacos.  On the bottom is seasoned black beans, them lime-marinated mushrooms, corn salsa and fresh cilantro.  These were very tasty but very messy to eat, because the fancy lettuce at TJ’s looks like it would be good for lettuce wraps, but in reality was decidedly not.  In the back are TJ’s corn-flax chips, which are slightly addicting.

I got a spiralizer!  I’ve been jealous of other blogger’s zucchini noodles for far too long, so I finally bought one.

…and made zucchini and squash noodles.  I used the larger noodle shredder the first time, and they were a bit too large and super curly.  The blade with the smaller holes is much better for this purpose.

I had fresh basil in the fridge and I was feeling too lazy to make a raw sauce, so I went the easy route and added spaghetti sauce, basil, toasted pine nuts and almond parmesan.  This was very tasty!  The sauce separates and gets watery if it sits with the zucchini, so I want to try a different type of sauce next time.

This is a Saturday afternoon clean-out-the-kitchen salad.  It has red potatoes, purple potatoes, cucumber, red bell pepper, celery, carrot and sliced veggie dog, with a Vegennaise dressing.  It wasn’t the most fantastic thing I’ve ever eaten, but it was pretty and it got the job done.

Farmers market purchases:  rainbow chard, okra, baby cucumbers, jalapenos, peaches and nectarines, a golden and regular zucchini, a lemon, broccoli and strawberries.  All for under $20!

The main purpose of my farmers market trip was to get ingredients to make my Southern Style Dolmades for a potluck that night.  I ran late and didn’t have time to assemble the rolls, so I just took the filling and the sauce and hoped it would be okay.  Turns out people really liked it as it was!  That was a big relief.

I realized while at the market that I hadn’t had anything with cheesy sauce for a long time (such a travesty), so I bought the broccoli with plans to make this:

Shells n’ cheese n’ broccoli.  You can’t beat it.  I used my favorite cheesy sauce, which is tofu based, but I used the wrong kind of tofu and eyeballed the ingredients and so it didn’t turn out the best it ever has, but it still hit the spot.

To go with my pasta, I roasted the okra.  Look at the size of these okras!  They are with a regular sized golden zucchini and jalapeno for reference.

All roasted up.

I still had the chard leaves from my non-roll making debacle and hadn’t a clue what to do with them since they were already boiled.  So I asked The PPK for ideas, and one member suggested peanut sauce.  Bingo!  Peanut sauce makes everything better.  I still ended up making rolls, but went a different direction with the filling.

So these are quinoa, pepper, carrot and zucchini chard rolls with fresh cilantro, basil and peanut sauce.  It was very yummy!  I was glad I could salvage my $4 worth of boiled organic chard.

I won’t be using my laptop lunchbox for a reason to be discussed in my next post, so I’ll catch up with lunches.  Most of them are repeats from the meals above anyway.

7/14 the aforementioned secret risotto, steamed broccoli,
carrot sticks, grapes & cherries

7/16 potato & fava bean salad with miso-mustard dressing,
roasted asparatus, sweet potato-chocolate chip-
walnut muffin, strawberries & raspberries

7/21 broccoli/carrot slaw, eggplant curry, brown rice,
oat bran pretzel sticks, wasabi-soy almonds, figs

7/22 lettuce wraps with seasoned black beans, marinated mushrooms,
corn salsa & cilantro, corn-flax chips, dark chocolate

7/24 zucchini noodles with spaghetti sauce, pine nuts & almond
parmesan, beanballs, maple cookie, b-complex supplement

7/27 clean-out-the-kitchen salad with lettuce & avocado, strawberries

7/28 shells & cheese & broccoli, roasted okra, gf corn muffin, strawberries

7/30 chard rolls with peanut sauce, celery, soy nuggets
with ketchup, dried figs, dark chocolate

7/31 leftover quinoa filling with peanut sauce, zucchini noodles with spaghetti sauce & almond parmesan, cherries, gherkins, sandwich cookies

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