Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cool Dill Cucumber Salad (vegan + raw + creamy!)

Oh my lord it is so hot here (Arizona)!  It has been over 100 degrees for about the one-millionth day and I'm just about over this sweltering sticky mess that is my home.  I find myself chanting the famous last words of the wicked witch: "I'm melting!  Meeeellltiiiinnnggg!".  I may or may not say those words out loud...on accident...at the office...at the fax machine...in front of a coworker.  No, that would never happen.  Anywho!

In the heat of the summer, nothing satisfies a coolness craving more than a bright cucumber salad.  In my pre-vegan glory days I was enamored with this cool creamy cucumber dill salad a local German delicatessen sold near our home.   It had the perfect blend of sweetness, tang, and cool refreshing juiciness to really make it a summer favorite in our house.  I was a bit heart broken when I thought of giving it up.  Then I realized, I don't have to!  I set out to recreate the salad.  It had to be raw and vegan, and I had to love the taste as much as the original (while feeling good about eating it!).


I give you, the Cool Dill Cucumber Salad!


  This salad is insanely easy to make.  It has on a few ingredients, and it's biggest downfall is it tastes best when refrigerated overnight.  Oh no! =)  Honestly though, this salad is an amazing side for just about any meal.  Sometimes, when I've made a big batch, I'll just eat a cup of it here and there as a snack.  So refreshing!  Cucumbers are an amazing source of just about everything.  They provide hydration (they are over 90% water!) and B vitamins while nourishing you with lovely vitamin C and other necessary nutrients.  They are the summer wonder veg, if you ask me!


This recipe only calls for a couple, but I'd pick up more at the store.  They are also super tasty when infused for about a week in gin or vodka...just sayin'!  (How does one do that you ask???  No worries...a post is coming soon!!)


Cool Dill Cucumber Salad (vegan + raw + creamy!)
*Makes approximately 4-6 side helpings of salad.  

Ingredients:
2 large cucumbers, or 3 medium/small, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or julienned
1/4 cup Veganaise, or other vegan mayo
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1 tbsp dried dill

To Make:  Combine your cucumbers and red onion.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk together the Veganaise, vinegar and dill until thoroughly combined.  Pour your cucumber onion mixture into the sauce and toss gently until all the veggies are coated well.  Cover and refrigerate over night, or for at least a few hours.  This fridge time really makes the flavors pop!  Stir occasionally while marinating.


Serve alone or over a bed of fresh baby spinach to make a complete salad!



Enjoy this salad, and your summer! =)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Raw Vegan Peach Crumble

I love making raw desserts!  One of my favorites is my Raw Vegan Peach Crumble.


I whipped up this vegan delight in hopes a sugary sweet (and very summerish) finish to a delish meal.  Well, this recipe is one I eat raw quite often.  I thought, eh, what the heck!  I'll bake it and see how tasty it is nice and warm!  Oh no, friends.  Oh no.  Sometimes, a recipe looks or sounds amazing...but it tastes like crap.  Enter:  The Warm Vegan Peach Crumble.  Perhaps it was the temperature change that made the recipe taste so drastically different?  I don't know.  All I know is, I have a new quest.  A WARM Vegan Peach Crumble quest.   While I set out on my new mission, perhaps you can enjoy the raw version.  Wish me luck!!


Raw Vegan Peach Crumble
Makes 2-3 single serving peach crumbles.

Ingredients:
Filling:
2 ripe organic peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
1/8 cup coconut sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon

Crumble Topping:
1/8 cup coconut sugar
1/8 cup organic brown sugar
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/8 cup whole grain rolled oats (I used gluten free)
1/8 cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp cold Earth Balance vegan butter (optional)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Dash salt

To make: Prepare the filling.  In a bowl, mix peaches coconut sugar and cinnamon.  The ripe peaches should make the mixture moist.  If not, add a small amount of water until the mixture is moistened (the sugar should cling to the peaches but not drip off!).  Divide the filling among 2-3 single serving ramekins.  Prepare the crumble.  Mix the sugars, oats, nuts and dash of salt in a bowl until well combined.  Add in the vanilla, coconut oil and cut in the earth balance (If you don't have a pastry tool for this, use your hands. Just mash everything together until it forms a crumble!  Don't mess with two knives, etc, your hands work just fine! And they're free!) Divide the crumble topping among the filling, and press down slightly.  Eat alone or serve with some non-dairy ice cream (So Delicious has some great varieties!).

I'm relatively new to the raw recipe game.  If you have any substitutions, additions, or changes to make this recipe better, I'd love to hear your suggestions!!  Drop me a comment =)


Enjoy! =)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tangy Soba Side Salad

This weekend, I found myself throwing together ingredients and BAM!  Recipes were born!  Love when that happens!  Unfortunately, in those instances, I am not prepared for everything to go so well, and I only get pics of the finished product and not the assembly, etc.  Oops!


As I mentioned while sharing my fav zucchini noodles last week, I am slightly in love with pasta.  Soba is an excellent choice in comparison to traditional white pasta, or even some whole grain varieties.  Buckwheat soba is packed with protein, fiber, magnesium, etc, etc.  The noodles have a great texture (when not overcooked!!) and absorb flavors and color like magic.  AND they can be served hot or cold...making left over consumption a breeze!!  Especially if you are anti-microwave.  Amazing little noodles!


Well, today, I offer you the Tangy Soba Side Salad.  It has substance, tons of veggies, and the best part, my 2 year old adores it.  Sure to be a family favorite! =)  Feel free to add some tofu or tempeh to make this a main course.


As I may have mentioned, I am the only full time vegan in my house, so I add animal protein to this for my husband, usually shrimp or chicken.  If you find yourself in a house full of carnivores, this is a dish easily adapted to fit everyone's tastes!

Tangy Soba Side Salad
*Makes two side salads, or one large entree.  Double the recipe if needed!  Most soba noodles come in a package with enough to make this recipe three times over.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:
For the Pasta Mix:
4oz organic buckwheat soba noodles
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup frozen edamame (shelled), thawed
1/4 cup corn (I used frozen and thawed...but feel free to cut off the cob if you're feeling ambitious!)
2-3 tbsp hemp seeds

For the Sauce:
1/8 cup low sodium tamari
1/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup + 2-3 tbsp sesame oil, divided
2-3 tbsp agave
1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
2-3 tbsp olive oil

To Make: Cook soba according to package directions.  Do not overcook!  In a separate bowl, whisk the tamari, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, agave, garlic and olive oil until incorporated.  Taste and adjust flavors if necessary; adding more tamari/sesame oil/vinegar as needed.  This sauce has a strong flavor so keep that in mind as you taste.  You want it to be fairly tangy in the bowl!  It does mellow once spread over all the noodles and veggies.  Add the bell peppers, peas, edamame, corn, hemp seeds and whisked sauce to the noodles.   Gently toss.  Serve with sesame oil on the side if desired.  (Sesame oil has a wonderful subtle smokey flavor to it that really works well with this dish)


This dish can be served warm right away, but really shines when it has been slightly chilled in the fridge.  Hence, why this works well as a pre-prep dinner item/side or leftovers that don't need re-heating!


 Want even more veggies?!  You crazy people...I love it!  Add shredded carrots, zucchini noodles, or any other veg you desire!!

Enjoy =)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Super Simple Zucchini Noodle Pasta Salad

I love pasta.  There, I said it.  It's true.  I do!  But, alas, it is not always the healthiest choice in my recipe repertoire!  How do I cope?  VEGGIE PASTA!!

I love to make noodles out of veggies!  They are a wonderful way to get a large serving of vitamins and minerals while satisfying those comfort food cravings.  And they're RAW!  Bonus!!!  My favs to noodle-ize are carrots, yams and zucchini.  I would adore a spiralizer, but for now I just use a hand-held julienne peeler.  They are relatively inexpensive, and you can get them in combo with a hand-held mandolin slicer at most grocery stores for around $10!  Also, they are great way to see if you love these noodles without the pesky monetary investment of a spiralizer. =)


This week, I was obsessed with zucchini noodles.   (Probably because I bought like 10 organic zucchinis on impulse at Whole Foods...gotta love sales!) As a result, I made this simple base salad that serves as a wonderful side dish, or as the starter for a main-course veggie-ful entrée.   This veggie-powered noodle salad is the perfect summer lunch or dinner side dish.  This creamy, yet light, salad is great on its own. But if you want to really make it shine, add peas, lightly sautéed asparagus and mushrooms to it. The added vegetables, flavors and textures really make it more substantial when served as a main course.


Super Simple Zucchini Noodle Pasta Salad
Makes two full-sized entrée servings, or four side dish servings.

Ingredients:
2 large zucchini
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
3/4-1 cup water
1 avocado
1-2 cloves garlic (to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Salt & Pepper, to taste

To make:  Spiralize or julienne peel your cucumbers.  Toss with the baby spinach and set aside.  In a high speed blender, combine raw cashews and 3/4 cup water.  Blend on high until a light white sauce forms.  It will be fairly thin.  Add the flesh of one avocado, 1-2 cloves of garlic, lemon juice and nutritional yeast.  Blend on medium until smooth and creamy.  Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.  I usually add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper.   If you aren't keen on adding straight salt, a few dashes of low sodium tamari works also.

Toss the zucchini spinach mixture with about half of the sauce, adding more sauce until you reach the desired amount of sauce to noodle ratio.  Divide among plates and top with fresh veggies, vegan parma, or crushed nuts.   Hemp seeds and sunflower seeds are great noodle toppers too!


Now, when I make raw noodle dishes, I often play with spices and flavors until the sauce is perfect for my tastes.   Feel free to play around and modify, modify, modify!!  Fresh herbs and exotic spices are always a good additive!  If you find a variation you love, let me know in the comments below! =)

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Plant Powered Hump Day!




Hello fancy friends!  It's Wednesday a.k.a. Hump Day...and with the typical mid-week motivation slump, our commitment to healthy living can also falter.  Well not today, not up in here!  No sir!  This morning I got up early, did about 45 minutes of yoga (much needed...git that zen place, girl!  Git it!), and whipped up a plant powered start to my Hump Day!  Start to finish (including juicer/blender clean up) this juice-smoothie mash up took about 20 minutes...you can do it too!!!


I started off with a nice big glass of a green juice!  I rarely make a specific recipe for my green juice, as I like to have fun with it.  No pressure...just healthy juice.  I always try to get a bunch of veggies in the juicer before adding a couple fruits to sweeten things up, otherwise I can get a little crazy with the apples and oranges.  So tasty.  Anyway, this morning I poured my concoction into a beer tumbler...it just made it feel a little more racy...gotta get through this day!  Woo!



I absolutely love this juice recipe!  It's my go-to when I don't want to take on all the chlorophyll-y tasting wonders of the world.  This juice is subtly sweet with a fresh herbal undertone.  I just had to share it with you!  (both recipes below)  Note: Never know what to do with all that veggie pulp after juicing?? No worries, I'm perfecting a juice pulp cracker recipe..hopefully ready to share soon!!



Now, I am active and love to eat.  Although my green juice gets me going, I can't make it to my mid-morning snack, never mind lunch, on just green juice.  If you can, awesome!  But, I can't.  So, I also made a green smoothie for breakfast.   No drive-thru for this gal today!  This smoothie was an incredible dark forrest green..so pretty...spinach rocks!! =)  This is a simple, classic, all-over-the-internet green smoothie recipe, but I'll share it with you anyways!  Never hurts to add another combo to the repertoire.



Note: If I can do this, so can you!!  Making the commitment to wake up 15 minutes early and do something great for our bodies is often the biggest hurdle in a healthy lifestyle.  Do your best and forget the rest.  Be kind to yourself today, after all, you rock!!


Happy Hump Day Plant Power Juice
Makes two glasses of green juice.  Tip: throw one in a mason jar and save for that mid-day slump later on!!

Ingredients:
2-3 celery stalks
3 large kale leaves
3 cucumbers, peeled
2 carrots
1 green apple
1 orange, peeled
Coconut Water, between 1/4-1/2 cup

Directions:  To make, put all ingredients through your juicer.  Once all ingredients are through, put the pulp back through one more time if it is not dry (usually most helpful with centrifugal juicers).  Then, while the juicer is still running, pour coconut water through the juicer to flush any remaining juice out and into your glass.  Rejoice in the added electrolyte bonus of coconut water!  Pour over ice (or don't) and drink, baby, drink!



Go-To Green Smoothie
Makes two smoothies...share one with a friend! =)

Ingredients:
2 cups almond milk (or other non-dairy milk of choice)
2 frozen bananas
1/2 cup frozen berries (I used an organic frozen blend from the grocery store)
2 cups baby spinach

Directions: Pour almond milk into your blender (always first!!).  Add in frozen bananas, berries, then all  of the spinach.  It looks like a lot, but you really don't taste it in the end result.  Blend on medium speed until all ingredients incorporate, then turn the speed up to high and blend until smooth.  Add ice cubes if desired.  Pour into a glass and enjoy!

Also, I got this super fun fruit basket yesterday on sale.  Had to share! (Gotta love a good bargain!)



Have a happy and healthy hump day!  What's on your healthy Wednesday agenda? =)

Monday, July 22, 2013

24 Carrots Vegan Chow (Review)

Holy vegan cannoli!  This weekend, I had the pleasure of dining at 24 Carrots, Natural Cafe & Juice Bar in Chandler, Arizona.  WOW.  This place was amazing.  A colorful, diverse menu that was totally vegan, and mostly raw!  I got a whole feast for lunch (hey, you can splurge a bit when it's all veggies!!)  I did end up getting take out, so ignore the to-go containers! =)

I started off with the Raw Marinated Veggie Enchiladas...


So dreamy.  Perfect amount of spice and substance.  And the spicy cashew cream...delish!

I followed those bad boys up with a Zucchini Noodle Salad...


Layers of fresh veggies, spiraled zucchini noodles, and the freshest tangy raw dressing I could imagine.  It had hints of fresh ginger and spices..divine!

The BEST part of the meal however, was the finale.  The Raw Fig Pistachio Balsamic Cupcake.


Yes, I nearly died and went to heaven when I had this masterpiece.  It was rich but not overwhelming, with a creamy frosting, fresh dried figs, pistachios, and a sweet, thick balsamic reduction glaze.  As I said, holy vegan cannoli!!  (It is my mission to re-create this treat...stay tuned!!)

Know of any good vegan restaurants??  I'd love to know!  Share in the comments below if you feel so inclined! =)


Friday, July 19, 2013

"Green" Kale Packed Smoothie

I'm learning to LOVE kale...without adding gin to it.  Clearly, I'm joking.  That would be nasty.  Well...maybe not after a couple of them...I digress.   The point of this post is that I am learning to love kale!   As a newbie in the vegan/raw way of health, I found kale to be a bit intimidating.  It's a thicker, dark, leafy green that has a flavor all its own!  No hiding this bad boy with a huge dollop of vegan dressing! No way Jose!  Nowadays, I can tear through a head of kale like nothin', but the transition took some time.  I initially got started by adding it to my green juices and green smoothies.  Now I'm up to half my plate covered with kale salad!  So yummy!


Kale is basically a super green (pictured above with a drizzle of agave for this recipe!!).  Its jam packed with vitamins, minerals, our good friend chlorophyll, and it makes your body happy!!  Feeling timid too?  No worries!  I have a delicious "green" smoothie recipe (that actually turns out dark purple sometimes) that will have you believing you too can eat kale on the regular!  Now, I don't usually recommend starting the day off with this much fruit (aka sugar), but if this is how you can transition to loving this hearty veggie, then I am all for it!!


Side note: Not all green smoothies turn out green, usually because there is a dark fruit added or there aren't enough greens in the recipe to begin with.  Some "green" smoothies are purple...some are even brown or another odd color variation.  It's one of those horrible truths no one tells ya, and you stand in your kitchen wondering what went wrong! "But, I added like half a blender of spinach to this?!  Why isn't it turning that amazing neon green color I see online?!" Don't stress kiddos, just get the veggies in!  Do your best, forget the rest...just don't forget the kale!!  This recipe has more fruit than usual and it calls for blueberries, hence why the term "Green" is loosely used in quotations.  You've been warned!!



"Green" Kale Packed Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 Navel Orange, peeled
1 Ripe Banana, peeled and frozen
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup Unsweetened Almond Milk (Or Non-Dairy Milk of Choice)
1/2 cup Coconut Water
3-4 large Kale Leaves, washed and torn into smaller, blender sized pieces
1 teaspoon agave syrup, stevia, or other natural sweetener

Directions:

Pour the almond milk and coconut water into your blender first (always!).  Add in your fruit and kale.  Drizzle the agave over the kale on top.  Cover, blend on high until smooth and creamy.  Feel free to add in a couple ice cubes while the mixture is blending if you want a colder, thicker smoothie.

As I said, this smoothie starts out pretty (as you can see when it was in my blender), but comes out this weird green-grey-purple-y color...still tastes amazing, though!  Don't let the color scare you...delish, I promise! =)  **Note** Don't over blend like I did, you can avoid those pesky surface air bubbles! =)


Easy-peasy start to your day, and a great big 'ole serving of fruit and veggies to boot!  See?  You can do it!!!

Now, friends, go forth and blend to health!!