Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Chick-un" Noodle Soup for the Soul

So, I haven't been sick since...well, it's been so long I can't remember.  Unfortunately, I'm currently fighting some form of evil sinus invasion and I've been totally wiped out the last few days (hence, no posting...sorry!...also why there is only one picture of this soup...again..sorry!)

When I'm sick I crave that classic comfort of chicken noodle soup, like Momma used to make when I was a sick kiddo.  Only problem?  I no longer eat chicken!  What's a sick gal to do?  1. Whine and moan about how awful I feel (check!) and 2. Whip up a delicious vegan alternative that is simple, quick and soul-mending (check, check, check!).

This soup is crazy easy, super tasty, and stores well in the fridge or freezer.  Although I'm the only sickie in the house, everyone loved it.  I guarantee you won't need a bowl full of animal gunk to feel better once you've tried this recipe! =)  Also, I'm totally tickled with myself for the name...this faboosh soup is made with chickpeas instead of chicken..get it? "Chick-un" HA!  Hey, I'm sick, humor me...

"Chick-un" Noodle Soup for the Soul
*Serves 4-6...I used dried herbs in this dish for convenience...feel free to use fresh, just add a bunch more!

2 cups cooked gluten free pasta, I used Tinkyada Brown Rice Penne
1 15oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms, I used baby bellas
3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots mix
2 teaspoons garlic (about 3 cloves) minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp sage
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1 tsp pepper

To Prepare:
1. Prepare noodles according to package directions while the broth and veggies cook, set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the mushrooms start to soften.  Add in the garlic, salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 minute.  Add in the frozen veggies (no need to thaw them! yay!), cook for 2-3 minutes or until the veggies are heated through.   Add in the dried herbs, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust if necessary with more salt and pepper.  Cook for 1 minute, to allow the flavors to cook into the veggies.

3. Add in the veggie broth and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Adjust the taste again if necessary with more salt and pepper.

4.  Add in the pasta and chickpeas, allow to heat through for a few minutes, again (last time) adjust taste if necessary, and slurp it on down!

5. Oh yea, and feel better =)

*Note: I tell you to adjust the seasoning to taste so much because that's how I roll when making soup.  I just kind of figure it out as I go...important to ensure the flavor is legit!  Trust yourself, your taste buds know what they like!

Monday, September 16, 2013

My Muffin of the Moment - Banana Chocolate Chip Chia Oat Muffins

I looooove a good muffin in the morning...afternoon...before dinner....anytime really!  I have convinced my son, and myself, that they are healthy it's like eating dessert when you shouldn't be (naughty! naughty!).  I usually make a large batch, freeze them and thaw one in the toaster oven when I need a quick on the go breakfast.

So much easier and healthier than whatever else I might find and stuff in my face whilst in a rush!

Lately, I've been really diggin' these Banana Chocolate Chip Chia Oat Muffins.  I originally adapted this recipe from a popular vegan cookbook due to pantry limitations (aka I didn't want to take my happy rear-end to the store).  Voila, a new recipe was born!  And it's tasty!

So good...even better with jam =)  Pay no attention to the circus animal birthday cupcake liners.  Like I said, I use what is in the ain't pretty, but it works!  Yay for frugal health! Hip hip hooray!

Banana Chocolate Chip Chia Oat Muffins
*Adapted from Coconut Banana Muffins in Let Them Eat Vegan! by Dreena Burton 

*Makes 12 regular size muffins.  Freeze them for a quick on the go breakfast throughout the month!

1 1/4 cups whole gluten free rolled oats, processed into a chunky flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips, I used Enjoy Life
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/4 organic cane sugar
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup ripe banana, mashed (about 1.5 bananas)
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbsp olive oil

To prepare:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a regular muffin pan with liners, for ease of muffin removal.

1. Mix dry ingredients well in a large bowl.  Set aside.

2. Mix wet ingredients in a medium bowl, whisk to combine well.

3. Fold the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and gently stir to combine.  Don't over mix, or you could get tough muffins :/

4. Fill each muffin well 2/3-full with batter.  Bake for 16-18 minutes at 375 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Allow to cool, and enjoy whenever the mood for a muffin strikes!

5.  If freezing, allow them to fully cool before placing in the freezer!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Simple Southwest Chopped Salad + Vegan Cilantro Cream Dressing

I know, I know, my recipes lately have been feeling kinda summer-ish...and it's September!  But, I have three things to say to that: 1. I live in Arizona, so it feels like summer until Christmas.  I'm inspired by what I live, people!  2.  This recipe rocks, so stop complaining.  And 3.  Well...I guess it was just two things.  Anywho!

This light, crisp, sweet, and fresh salad is super refreshing and filling, yet light.  If you have carnivores in your home, this salad is easily modified by adding chopped or shredded chicken.   For all you herbivores out there, this salad needs no additional protein added!

The black beans provide a super protein packed punch, while the cucumbers hydrate, the corn lends sweetness, the avocado provides a creamy backdrop and the cilantro and green onion offer a fancy southwestern kick.  I threw in some lettuce and red bell peppers for good measure =)

Cooking tip: When using avocados in cooking or guacamole, cut the avocado in half.  Remove the pit, and "chop" the avocado in it's shell by slicing it vertically and horizontally.  Then scoop out the flesh with a spoon or squish it out by folding the shell in half.  The avocado comes out chopped and your cutting boards and hands stay goop free!

The cilantro cream dressing I used for this dish tastes great on just about any salad.   I make a double batch when making this salad recipe, and it lightly coats every ingredient perfectly, allowing the veggies to really shine through!

Enjoy this salad as a side or a main dish.  This recipe makes enough for an entire family!  If you plan to store it for a day or two and not eat it all right away, I recommend leaving out the cucumbers OR not adding the dressing until you're ready to eat it.  Otherwise, you'll end up with a very watery and limp chopped salad.  That is no bueno lovlies, no bueno indeed.

Also, did I mention this recipe is vegan and raw?!  Hip hip hooray for healthy delish food!! =)

Simple Southwest Chopped Salad
*See recipe for dressing below.  I used a double batch to coat the entire salad.  Makes enough for 4-5 people to enjoy an entire bowl of salad.  Enjoy with tequila or a cold beer.  And pretend summer isn't preparing to say adios. 

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 cup yellow corn, I used thawed frozen organic
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 romaine heart, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
3 green onions, chopped

To Prepare:  Gently toss all chopped ingredients in a bowl.  Top with your fav dressing, like the Vegan Cilantro Cream Dressing, and enjoy!

Vegan Cilantro Cream Dressing
*Makes enough to coat 3-5 cups of salad, depending on your dressing saturation preference.   Enjoy immediately.  

1 fistful fresh cilantro, about 1 loosely packed cup
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp vegan mayo, I used Veganaise
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
4-5 tablespoons olive oil

To Prepare:
1. In a small food processor, or high speed blender, add the cilantro, garlic, mayo and spices.  Pulse briefly to combine.

2.  Turn processor on low and add in the olive oil as the processor is running.  Turn up the speed and processes until the dressing is well incorporated and blended, about 15-30 seconds.

*Note: No food processor?  If you have a fork or whisk, it's alright!  Mince the cilantro and garlic, then whisk the dressing together by hand.  You will still get the same delicious end result, it just requires a little more elbow grease!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Blueberry Almond "Ice Cream" + 30 Second Raw Chocolate Ganache

I scream, you scream, we all scream...because none of us can eat ice cream?!  No dairy = no ice cream.   This can be quite a sad predicament for a vegan, especially once per month for approximately 4-7 days.  =)  Craving that cold, sweet and creamy treat, yet your ethical and physical limitations require you to go without?  *sigh*

Have you ever really looked into what is actually in cream and milk?  It's nasty...I won't gross you with the details since we are here today to discuss a delicious ice cream alternative.  Just know, if you get the itch...don't scratch it.  You don't want what they're serving in those tubs! :/

Still, what's a veg-head to do when the sweet-ice-cream-tooth hits?  Never fear!  Have some Blueberry Almond "Ice Cream" with 30 Second Raw Ganache, my dear!!!

"Ice cream" can be adapted to any palate's tastes.  It's so fun and healthy...if blueberries ain't yo thang, add in nuts, cacao nibs, cocoa powder, etcetera, etcetera!  Once you understand the basics of "ice cream" it's easy to make it eleventy-billion ways on the fly.

Quick, simple, easy, and most importantly delish!  Now, we can all scream for "ice cream"!  (Yes, I'm aware that was lame...I'm tired.  No judging.)

In other news, the fantastic thing about this ganache is it acts like that magic shell stuff kiddos love so much.  Once it hits the ice cream, it hardens into a crispy, chocolatey shell.  Even if your kiddos want to traditional milk-ice-cream, you can swap their traditional chocolate sauce with this healthy alternative!   (By the way, this ganache ROCKS on cupcakes, raw brownies and cake breads...oh man, so good!)

Blueberry Almond "Ice Cream" with 30 Second Raw Chocolate Ganache
* Makes two servings of ice cream, and enough chocolate ganache to really indulge & over do it.  It's raw and technically you can't over do it...I digress.  Enjoy!


Blueberry Almond "Ice Cream"
2 cups frozen chopped bananas
1 - 2 tbsp almond milk (optional - see note)
2 heaping tbsp almond butter
1/2 cup thawed frozen blueberries, or fresh if they are in season
1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp maple syrup (optional - if needed for extra sweetness - but you won't need it!)

To Prepare:
1.  Process bananas in a food processor or high speed blender until just starting to cream together.  If your bananas looks like frozen space dots (remember those?!) add the almond milk to help the process along.

2.  Once the bananas look like they are starting to turn smooth, add your almond butter, coconut flakes, and optional maple syrup (like I said, add if you want it crazy sweet...but you won't need it.  Especially if you're topping it with ganache!!).  Process until smooth.

3.  Add the blueberries, and pulse 5-6 times until the bluberries are just incorporated in and slightly smashed.

4.  Scoop into bowls or mugs and top with 30 Second Raw Chocolate Ganache (below), or fresh fruit!

 30 Second Raw Chocolate Ganache
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp cacao powder
2 tbsp maple syrup

To Prepare:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, and drizzle onto whatever you feel needs a chocolate rush!  For a thicker ganache, leave out the coconut oil!

So tasty.  Soooo right!  Silly ice cream kept melting next to the windows as I was taking pics :(  Oh well, still tastes amazing!  Enjoy! =)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Kitchen Sink Juice + A 1 Day Detox

Well, there was a little too much fun in my weekend.  Pumpkin beer is on the shelves...what do you expect?!  In my defense, the beer I consumed had an inspirational bottle top.  I rest my case.

Although it may have seemed like a good idea (pumpkin beer) at the time, I'm feeling sluggish today as a result of my fall-inspired libations.  The rainy doom and gloom going on outside isn't helping either.   I decided today was the day for a glass of liquid sunshine.  Every now and again I'll do a one or two day juice fast/veggie cleanse to give my body an opportunity to replenish nutrients, rest, and repair.  Today, friends, is the perfect day for such a mission!

This morning, my fridge was full of produce that could be kindly described as lackluster, at best.  I have a soft spot in my heart for sad-looking veggies, though...they make such tasty juices!  I decided to just literally throw it all into the kitchen sink, wash it, and juice it on up into a big ole' pitcher.

The result was different than most of my juicing recipes. This juice has a stronger greens flavor, with a slight hit of sweetness.  This really is the best type of juice if your fasting or cleansing.  Too much fruit = too much sugar, which kind of defeats the purpose of a cleanse!

If you're new to juicing, don't feel the need to jump all in head first!   Add some pineapple, a lemon, and a piece of ginger to soften up the flavor profile of this mean green machine!  In other news, this juice tasted so satisfying, like my body was craving vital veggie nutrients.   I guess I needed this more than I thought!

Juicing sometimes feels like an art, more than a nutritional dietary practice.  And sometimes, as in traditional forms of art, you throw crap together and it works.  Voila!  I give you my accidental and tasty masterpiece...Kitchen Sink Juice fit for a detox!  *Kind suggestion*  If using this recipe for a detox/cleanse/fast, go ahead and spring for organic produce.  Your body, digestive system and liver will thank you =)

Kitchen Sink Juice (Fit For A Detox)
*Makes a medium-sized pitcher of juice...about 5-6 mason jars full.  Perfect to make in the a.m. and sip on all day!

1 head romaine lettuce
1 bunch kale
3 large cucumbers, or 4 small, peeled
3 large apples
1 orange, peeled
1/2 bag carrots
1 1/2 cups coconut water

To Prepare:  Push all ingredients, except coconut water, through your juicer.  Re-run pulp through if desired.  With juicer still running, pour coconut water through juicer and into your glass/pitcher.  Enjoy straight up or on the rocks.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Down & Dirty Spicy Pad Thai for Two (Nut Free)

Today's post, like today's recipe, is down and dirty my friends.  First, I've posted like 3 times this week, so we all know I'm out of things to say (shocking, but true).   Also, I was craving some spicy, creamy, noodle-y goodness and I didn't have 30-45 minutes to prep a fancy meal.  Hence, the Down & Dirty Pad Thai.  This recipe isn't a classic pad thai, but reminds me of a knock off version a college roomate of mine used to make.  It's sweet and spicy and creamy (oh my!).  Really satisfies those creamy pasta or spice cravings in a jiffy.

This is also a great raw recipe when made with zucchini noodles instead of buckwheat soba.  I often have that version for a light lunch!  Even better, sometimes, I combine the buckwheat and zucchini half and half to give the dish a veggie punch while satisfying a pasta craving!

Note this recipe is nut free.  Nut free you say?  But pad thai is made with peanuts, right?  Normally, yes.  However, I do not eat peanuts.  So I improvised and used my favorite substitute...SunButter.  Its phenomenal, a seed butter, and super creamy and eerily peanut-butter-esque.  Then again, I haven't had peanut butter in years.  My taste memories could be failing me!  Either way, feel free to make this with peanut butter, just adjust the taste accordingly if needed!

Down & Dirty Spicy Pad Thai for Two (Nut Free) 
*This makes two servings of pad thai.  This is assuming you will have a salad with it, as you should! =)  If no salad, this might be a recipe for one, if one was really hungry.  Also, feel free to use peanut butter if your heart desires...


3 ounces uncooked buckwheat soba, or 1 large zucchini julienned/spiraled into noodles
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp agave, or maple syrup
1 tbsp + 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp SunButter, or other seed butter, or peanut butter if you wish
1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (I used 1/2 tsp and it wasn't terribly spicy)
Optional: sunflower seeds for sprinkling/topping

To prepare: 

1. Cook buckwheat soba according to package directions, careful not to overcook.

2. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, agave, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, SunButter and crushed red pepper flakes.  Whisk well until combined.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes to so to let the flavors develop.  Taste if necessary, note this will taste much tangier in the bowl than on the noodles...

3.  Add noodles to the bowl, and gently toss to coat.  Transfer to individual bowls or plates, and sprinkle with sunflower seeds.

There you have it.  Quick.  Delish.  Down & dirty!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Super Simple Veggie Red Curry Bowls + What I'm Shoving In My Face

People ask me all the time, "So, like, what do you eat all day if you can't have meat, dairy, or eggs?!"

Well, a lot actually!  I really thrive on smoothies and juices in the morning, and at that 1:30pm slump in the office.  My husband can even attest to what is known as the "juice high".   Sometimes, I'll slurp down a big 'ole glass of green goodness and feel more awake, alive, and slightly lightheaded, than if I had consumed a tripple espresso.  Gotta love nature's very own pick-me-up potions!

To further address that burning question of whether or not I'm eating cardboard, I'm just going to tell you what I ate for a day earlier this week.

Don't act like this isn't the most important information you've read all week!  =)

Green Juice (and one for the road...that late afternoon snack!) + a Kind Bar.  Always check labels, even some companies that make vegan granola bars, like Kind, sell some non-vegan varieties!

Mid-morning Snack:
Brown Rice Cake with Almond Butter

Green Salad + Kris Carr's Save The Tuna Salad.  Made with plump soaked almonds and cashews...can't beat it when you're craving something classic.

Green Juice + homemade black bean hummus with veggies (no pictures because I ate it all.  Sorry!)

Super Simple Veggie Red Curry Bowl + Long Grain Brown Rice + Simple Chopped Salad w/ Homemade Mustard Vinaigrette.

Curry is one of those super simple, super quick, and super filling hearty meals I throw together often for the fam.  Plus, it's super easy to add an animal protein to the the bowls after they're ladled out, if you have carnivorous members of the family...husband *cough cough*.   I know, I know, to speak of meat.  How dare I?!  Well, I am the only vegan in my family, which can often be a struggle when getting dinner on the table.  Just a suggestion for those in a similar sitch! =) So slow your roll, and eat some curry!

Here's usually what I throw in a pot...and it ends up looking super fancy.  No one knows you didn't slave all afternoon!  Win!

Super Simple Veggie Red Curry Bowls
*Makes 4, 1-1.5 cup bowls of curry.  

For the grains:

Long grain brown rice, buckwheat soba, or julienned zucchini noodles.

For the curry:

1/3 cup red curry paste (I used WorldFoods...about half the jar...gluten + dairy free)
1 can coconut milk
1 zucchini, thickly sliced into half rounds
1 carrot, peeled and cut into rounds 1/2" thick
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 yellow onion, cut into strips
1/4 cup fresh basil, or thai basil if you can find it
Optional: 1/2 block pan seared or fried extra firm tofu, cut into small cubes

To Prepare:

1. Prepare grains, especially if using brown rice.  It can take some time to cook, so start this step first/early!

2. In a medium sauce pan, whisk your curry paste and coconut milk over medium heat.  Whisk until well blended.  Add in basil, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, to allow the flavors to build.

3. Add in carrots, red bell peppers, and onions.  Simmer 5-10 minutes.  Add in zucchini, simmer for 5 additional minutes.  If you are adding tofu, add it with the zuchinni.

4. Remove from heat, serve in bowls with your base/grain of choice.

Yep, it's that easy.  Filling and delicious.  Super awesome-ness for weeknights!