Saturday, January 29, 2011

Vegan Eats: Where did all the protein go?

I have been 95% vegan since about October of last year, mostly vegetables, a bit of fruit, little pasta and rice. I felt great, light, did not catch a single cold, so all in all really good. Lately however, with a significant up in exercise (mostly a lot of skiing) I have been feeling really tired and somehow "sick and tired" just thinking about yet another veggie dish. So, I must be lacking some nutrients. Protein! Yesterday, I ate an egg white omelette and today I started the day with a raw vegan PROTEIN booster -- a scoop of Sun Warrior protein powder mixed in a cup of almond milk with 3 TB of thawed frozen raspberries. Now, I feel like I am ready to ski like an elf again  ;-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Spinach

After Tina's fail with potato pancakes, I was curious: what went wrong? I guessed too much liquid. I had baked sweet potatoes left over, but I needed a bit more green in them to make pancakes. These are vegan (no egg!), and they worked out just fine.

Sweet Potato Pancakes (makes one serving)
1 sweet potato, cooked or baked, cubed
3 TB unflavored almond milk
salt, pepper to taste
1 clove roasted garlic
3-4 TB panko bread crumbs
handful baby spinach leaves, chopped
1/2 TB grapeseed oil

Fill the sweet potato and almond milk in a food processor, and puree. Pour mix in a mixing bowl, and add the salt and pepper and the smushed roasted garlic clove. Mix in the panko bread crumbs and the raw spinach leaves. Heat the oil in pan and shape one big or several small patties with the sweet potato mix and fry it in the pan until golden brown on both sides. Serve!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside.

With the latest arctic air masses coming down from Canada, Maine has a cold spell with temperature at -5F (and -15F with wind chill). Oophs. That means getting out the Def Con 1 winter clothes (looking like the Michelin man), and eating hot soup. I found this wonderful vegan soup on Green Kitchen Stories, and I tried it out over the weekend, changing it around slightly. How does Renee Zellweger say in "Jerry Maguire"? "You got me at hello". Or better this one got me by its beautiful name: white velvet soup.

White Velvet Soup:
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 TB grapeseed oil
1 white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup lima beans (used canned, I used dried one which I cooked)
2 cups of vegetable stock

for serving: hot sauce (recommend Sriracha).
makes 2-3 servings.

Use a steamer inset for a pot, and steam the cauliflower florets for ca 20 min. Meanwhile, saute the onion and garlic clove in the oil until only translucent, but not browned (it's called white velvet). Once done, pour the mix in a blender. Add the cooked beans to the blender/food processor. Once the cauliflower is steamed, add to the blender, too, and the vegetable stock. At this point, I let the whole mix cool for about 1h, and then pureed it til smooth. (Don't mix hot ingredients, ever! The whole stuff will explode. Been there, done that). 

Pour the pureed soup back in a pot, and reheat gently. Serve with a squirt of hot sauce.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Penne with Slow Cooked Tomato Beef Sauce

We had another snow storm a few days ago, and now it is Cold with a capital C (the wind chills supposedly will to approach -35F tonight but I have NO plans to be outside). Nevertheless, there is wonderful soft fresh snow, blue skies and endless cross country ski trails, and after 10min of skiing I am getting warm no matter the actual temperature. However, coming back from skiing I am ravenous! Pasta, please, with slow-cooked tomato sauce over vegetables!

2 oz penne pasta, cooked according to instructions
1 cup frozen vegetable, microwaved for 3.5 min

Slow-cooked tomato sauce:
1/2 large can of Wholefoods crushed tomatoes with basil
1/2 TB olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and cubed
2 stalk celery, washed, and cubed
1 bay leaf
100 g lean ground beef (you can leave this out)
3 TB red wine
2 TB Trader Joes red pepper spread

In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic, and once translucent add in the carrot and celery. Saute everything on medium-low until slightly soft. Add in the beef and sautee for 3-4 min. Add in the red wine, and stir. Simmer until the wine is cooked off. Add in the crushed tomatoes and 1/4 (tomato) can of water and the bay leaf. Stir, heat until bubbly and then pour the tomato sauce into a small slow cooker, which is set to high. Add in the red pepper spread. It takes about 2h to cook on high, or you can let it simmer for 4-5 h on low. I made it around lunch time, and had it ready when I came back from skiing at 4pm. Before serving, add in a handful of baby spinach leaves, which should wilt down immediately in the hot sauce.

Note: in my opinion, frying the onions and garlic first takes out the 'raw' taste of the sauce (instead of adding all ingredients straight to the slow cooker), and the sauce gets a more caramelized, complex flavor while making the beef really tender during slow cooking, especially if you have an inexpensive cut of beef.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kale with Spicy Peanut Sauce

What I love most about this recipe is the spicy peanut sauce! The recipe originates from Cafe M in Los Angeles, a vegan organic trendy restaurant. Although the peanut sauce is not really visible in the photo, it is really the star of this dish! But, naturally, it is high in calories so I only drizzled the kale, not doused it.

Spicy Peanut Dressing 
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 TB low sodium soy sauce
2 T brown rice vinegar

2 garlic cloves, microplaned
ca 1.5inch ginger, peeled, microplaned
a few squirts of sriracha sauce
1/4 cup hot water
1.5 TB red miso

1 large bunch kale

¼ cup peanuts, chopped for garnish
¼ red onion, halved and sliced for garnish

1. To make Spicy Peanut Dressing: Place all dressing ingredients into a blender (best: vitamix!). Blend until mixture turns into a smooth consistency. This makes quite a bit of sauce, which stores well in the fridge. 

Cut stems out of the kale leaves. 
Add a pinch of salt to a pot of boiling water, then blanch the kale for 2 min. 
Remove the kale from the boiling water and squeeze the excess water out of the kale.
Drizzle the dressing on top of the kale. Garnish with sliced red onions and chopped peanuts.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lazy day salad bar

Today I was plain too lazy to prepare my salad to take to work (on top of everything else I got to do). So, the salad bar at work had to do. In the past, I have had not a happy, Whole Food like salad bar love affair with this one. There was not much to love, plain lettuce, chopped bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and the rest out of a can, like pickled bean salad, or tiny corn or the rest was drenched in mayo like chicken salad or tuna salad. But, alas it looks like someone listened and there are now new options: wheat berry salad with sesame oil and sugarsnap peas and broccoli, grilled marinated tofu and a fancy quinoa salad ! Looks like I can be lazy more often in the future!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Artichoke Spinach Risotto

Lightly falling snow matches well with one dish: risotto. On my quest for new flavors, I found an artichoke lemon risotto in a current magazine the other day. Frozen artichokes from Trader Joes were still waiting in the freezer, but I was out of lemons. So, the risotto took another spin: with lemon flavor olive oil and fresh baby spinach. Delightful!

1 TB lemon-flavored olive oil
2 shallots or 1/2 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup of frozen artichokes (Trader Joes has frozen ones)
handful fresh baby spinach
some grated parmesan

1) Heat the olive oil in a heavy sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and sweat until translucent. Then add the washed rice, stir and toast for 30 seconds on medium heat. Now, add the white wine, and wait until it is cooked off. 

2) Turn down the heat to low, and start ladling in 1/4-1/2 cup of hot vegetable stock to the risotto. Also add the artichokes. Cook the risotto gently on low heat until the liquid is evaporated (4-5 min). Once the stock is cooked off, add another 1/2 cup of hot stock. Repeat until the rice is soft and cooked (about 25 min).

3) Add the baby spinach and cook another 3-4 minutes  until the baby spinach is just wilted.

4) Add the parmesan cheese and gently stir in. Serve!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Cooking Cat

Tonight, Ms Manolo B. decided to join me in the kitchen while I was baking brownies. You might remember my other cooking cat who likes to watch me cook. Well, Manolo could care less about cooking, but she always wants a snack from the fridge. "Let me lick some butter off your finger." "Well, Earth balance is ok, too." "As you know I also like Haaegen Daz ice cream, don't you have any?". Here, she looks a bit pissed because all she gets is her picture taken.

Breakfast of Skinny Vegan Champions

I must admit I often eat a more heavy lunch and are prone to night time snacking so I am not hungry in the morning and breakfasts are light. Like this breakfast of vegan champions :-)  Thawed raspberries, almond milk, some liquid stevia, and a handful of muesli with tropical fruit and goij berries.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Breakfast for Skiers!

The sun is shining, the sky is bright blue, a thick layer of brandnew snow on the trails, it is freezing cold outside and it is the weekend -- time to hit the cross country trails and soak up the sun, fresh air and get the soul going. This requires a protein rich breakfast, and for the first time in a while, I am eating Greek yogurt again. It is sweetened with stevia, sprinkled with thawed frozen raspberries, Vermont muesli and to add some extra superfoods topped with Goij berries and honey. Skiing, here I come!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chik Chik

Yesterday, I was rummaging in my freezer, in the long neglected meat and fish section (I am currently vegan), and I found a bag of Gardein Crispy (Chiken) Tenders. I thawed then in the fridge overnight, and pan fried 2 today for lunch with some Indonesian BBQ sauce. The lunch salad consisted of wilted baby spinach (I find wilted easier to digest), Belgian endive, tomato and freshly cooked chickpeas with vinaigrette and some Sriracha for the chik tenders.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tempeh Spinach Curry

While it is snowing outside like there is no tomorrow, what better to do then to cook and make a bit pot of a curry?This one is from scratch and vegan.

2 medium sized potatoes, about the size of a fist, peeled and cubed
1 ts coconut oil
1 ts whole cumin seeds
1 ts black mustard seeds
1/2 ts curry powder
1/4 ts turmeric
1/2 ts garam massala
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, small dice
1 ts Rapunzel vegetable bouillon
2 large handfuls of fresh baby spinach

In a large skillet, melt the coconut oil and add in the cumin seeds  and mustard seeds. Fry until the start to 'pop' (like popcorn). Now, add in the remaining spices and the onion. Mix well, and saute for about 2-3 min, constantly stiring sot that it does not burn. Add in the tomatoes, and stir. The tomatoes will cool down the mix so that it can be pureed safely (without it exploding in your face because of he hot steam), so, before heating it up further, pour the mix into a blender, and puree until smooth. Pour the mix back into the skillet and add the cubed potatoes, bell pepper as well as the jalapeno pepper. Turn heat to low-medium, and simmer for about 15-20 min or until the potatoes are tender.

Add the bouillon, tempeh and the baby spinach. Simmer on low, just to heat through the tempeh and wilt the spinach for about 5 min. Transfer to a large family-style bowl, and serve.  (If not vegan, add some creme fraiche at this point.)

Make it different: for leftovers, you can switch up the taste by adding a pureed chipotle pepper in adobe sauce. it makes it smokey and hot!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Got style?

Katie @ Keeping up with Katie nominated me for a Stylish Blogger award. Thank you!

There are 4 duties to perform to accept this award:
1.  Make a post + Link back to the person who awarded you this award. (done!)
2.  Share 7 things about yourself.
3.  Award 10 recently discovered great bloggers
4.  Contact these bloggers and tell them they’ve won!

So, here we are..... 

Seven things you don't know about me:
  1. Until a few years ago, I could not cook. Then, during one long cold winter, I sat down with Giada Di Laurentiis and Ina Garten in their kitchen and they showed me how to make simple, delicious dishes that actually turned out fabulously when I tried them myself. The rest is history.
  2. Today, I get most of my inspirations from other bloggers.
  3. Although I get inspired to cook, no matter how many running blogs I read, I don't get inspired to run a marathon. Not even a half marathon.
  4. I only eat Swiss chocolate. Lately, Trader Joe's Swiss chocolate (does this count?).
  5. I once lived in Switzerland.
  6. Blue sky and sunshine are my favorite things ever.

And now, my nominations for stylish bloggers. They are popular blogs so I am sure I am not the only one to nominate them!

Lunch to go

School is back on and so are lunches to go: fresh vegetables, crisped tofu cubes, and leftover lentil loaf with home-made balsamic vinaigrette.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Vegan Hearty Sauerkraut with Apple and Juniper Berries

I love sauerkraut like any fermented dish (say, Kimchee!). This is one of my favorite recipes -- sauerkraut with apple and juniper berries; typically you would pair it with a tasty sausage, but I am still going vegan. So, what to add for a 'meaty' flavor? I added cannellini beans, heated in a dollop of BBQ sauce. Say, yummo!

makes about 5-6 servings:
1 can or jar of Kuehne sauerkraut
1 small onion, diced (white and red onions both work)
1 ts grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
1 tart apple, diced (no need to peel it)
2-3 TB apple cider vinegar

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan and sautee the onion. Add the juniper berries and apple, toss, and saute for about 2-3 min. Now, add the sauerkraut, and mix with the other ingredients. Fill into a oven safe dish, cover with a lid or aluminum foil, and bake at 375F for about 45min. Alternatively, you can also cook it on the stove top, but on very low and cover to make sure it does not burn. Check for sufficient liquids. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dark Pumpernickel Bread

While others are taking off to get training in bread making and running a Great Harvest bread store, my nearest Great Harvest bread store is about 500 Mi away. Now, I have a onslaught of bread envy. Sigh. Fortunately, I still get great bread, thanks to King Arthur Flour Company and their great bread mixes. Last night, I made a loaf of the Dark Pumpernickel. It is surprisingly simple to make (mix, let rise, pour in pan, let rise again, bake), and it tastes just fabulously. I see great sandwiches in the near future!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Vegan Kale and Brussel Sprouts with Butternut Squash Sauce

Tonight, I was in search of new flavors. I went through my write-ups of recipes, and the only thing that inspired me was penne with a vegan butternut squash sauce. When I made the sauce, I was not hungry so it was stored in the fridge. A few hours later when I was actually hungry, I put on the pot with the hot water for the pasta. Then I took it off the stove again, and took a U-turn and added the new twist I was looking for. The basis became vegetable-based: brussel sprouts, kale and a few slices of charred poblano pepper with butternut squash sauce. Bold Vegan Food!

Butternut Squash Sauce: (about 2-3 servings)
1 white onion, peeled, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ts grapeseed oil or olive oil
1 TB apple cider vinegar, aged white balsamic vinegar or some white wine
1 package of frozen cooked pureed butternut squash, thawed
1/4 cup almond milk
1 ts mild yellow miso
1/2 TB Rapunzel vegetable bouillon

In a skillet, heat the oil and add the onion and garlic and sautee, until the onion is translucent on medium heat. Now, add the white wine or apple cider vinegar and cook it off. Add the butternut squash, and heat through, simmer for about 5 min. Add the almond milk, and bouillon, and stir. Simmer for another 5 min. Take off the heat, and mix in the miso. Cool for at least 15-30min before pouring into a food processor, and then puree it to a smooth consistency. 

Brussel Sprouts and Kale with Poblano:
1 cup brussel sprouts, frozen
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 ts grapeseed oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 curly kale leaves, stems removed and sliced
salt, pepper to taste
1 ts white miso, dissolved in about 3 TB of hot water
a few strips of charred poblano (place a poblano over an open flame, and char, then slice)

Heat a skillet with about a 1/4 cup of water and add the frozen brussels sprouts. On medium heat, simmer the brussels sprouts until the water is evaporated, and they are thawed and slightly cooked. Now, add the grapeseed oil to the pan and the onion, stir and sautee until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and stir. Simmer for about 2-3 min. Add the kale and about a 1/4 cup of water to steam everything and not burn it at this point. Simmer another 3-4min until the kale is slightly wilted. Add the miso, stir and turn off the heat. Plate on a large plate, and add about a 1/4 cup of the butternut squash sauce and some poblano slices on top. Serve!

Open faced lentil loaf sandwich

Lunch today was delicious: a piece of home-made sourdough bread, toasted in a pan, a teaspoon of harissa, baby spinach and an individual lentil loaf, with more harissa and feta crumbles. Yum!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hearty Vegan Lunch

Lunch was a true smörgåsbord of fresh ingredients and leftovers: crunchy radicchio, fresh cucumber and celery, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette, slightly wilted baby spinach with a dash of BBQ sauce, leftover rutaba fries, and tomato farro risotto for the warm aspects. A winter version of salad.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Individual Moroccan Lentil Loaves

Yesterday, I made the flavorful lentil, cranberry beans, and chickpea New Years Eve soup by Heidi Swanson. There were quite a few lentils and beans left over and today they were converted into a recipe by the wonderful Angela @ Oh She Glows, the Ultimate Vegan Lentil Walnut loaf. Experimental cooking in the depths of winter, right? Angela had sweated over the recipe for a while, and her main trick is to puree at least 75% of the lentil mixture to make the loaf not crumble.

I was in the mood for something more spicy, and so I merge one of my favorite 2010 recipes (the Moroccan Stuffed Peppers) with Angela's lentil loaf into the Moroccan Lentil loaf.

(makes only 6 small servings)
1 1/2 cup of cooked lentils, chickpeas and cranberry beans (or beans of your liking)
1 1/2 TB harissa (Moroccan spicy hot pepper paste)
1/4 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 ts minced garlic (Trader Joes!)
1 stalk celery, cleaned, finely diced
1/2 TB olive oil
salt, pepper
1 TB bbq sauce
1 flax egg (2 TB ground flax seed, 1/8cup water, mixed to gel)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (Progresso, with herbs and garlic) or home-made

First, mix the flax egg. Preheat oven to 375F.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil, and saute the onions, celery, red bell pepper and the garlic for ca 5min on medium-low. At the end, add in the BBQ sauce, as well as add salt and pepper. Let slightly cool, and add 1/2 of the mixture to a food processor. 

Mix the cooked lentil mix with the harissa, and puree about 75% with the sauteed vegetables in the food processor. Add the puree to a larger bowl and mix with the unprocessed lentils. Add the flax eggs and bread crumbs, and mix all the ingredients gently, Spray a loaf pan or muffin pan or brownie pan with cooking spray, and distribute the mix in the pan, pressing down. As glaze, I added a bit of BBQ sauce.

Bake for 35min at 375F.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Favorite 2010 Blog Inspired Recipes

It is the time of the year to make resolutions for the coming year or reminisce about the past year. I want to do something different today --- post a list of my favorite new dishes, which are inspired by other blogs:

  1. Moroccan Stuffed Turkey Bell Peppers (inspired by Julie @ peanut butter fingers)
  2. Feta Spinach Pumpkin Muffins (inspired by Heidi @ 101 Cookbooks)
  3. Berry Vega Smoothie (inspired by Gina @ Fitnessista)
  4. Miso Cod with Vegetables (inspired by Lynn's Taste testing at Nobu)
  5. Spicy Moroccan Panini (inspired by myself and probably my most popular post in 2010)

Overall, it was the year of Tuscan kale, green smoothies and starting clean eating.