Apr 13, 2013
I am pretty sure I have never made the same soup twice. Sure, I have come pretty close, but never have I created two identical pots of soup. Because I never measure. And I never follow a recipe. And the reason I make soup is to go through whatever is in my refrigerator and not have to think too much. And I am not interested in changing these habits, thankyouverymuch.
Soup is wonderful because you really can’t mess it up. A little liquid, a little substance, a little flavor, and let it all sit together on the stove until it is bubbling and delicious. So when I have a refrigerator full of produce and not a lot of time or energy to make it into an elaborate 5-course meal, soup is my go-to.
I am sharing this week’s soup recipe (or as close as I can come to writing what I made here) because it was so well-received by all five members of my family. And because it uses kale, which apparently a lot of you are having trouble incorporating into your family’s diets. However, feel free to add or subtract things as you wish, because that is the beauty of soup for dinner, and you know I am not going to follow the recipe next time I make it… ;)
WHITE BEAN, POTATO, AND KALE SOUP
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
½ sweet onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 baby red potatoes, cut into ½-inch cubes
Salt, to taste
1 Tbsp. crushed rosemary
½ cup frozen corn
1 can Cannellini beans
3 cups chopped kale, stocks removed
Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add just enough vegetable stock to cover the bottom of the pan and add onion and carrot, cooking until slightly softened (3-4 minutes). Add garlic and cook one minute more. Add potatoes and remaining vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft. Add salt, rosemary, and corn. Stir together until corn is completely cooked through. Add beans and kale. Cook until kale is wilted and bright green. If not avoiding dairy, top with freshly grated parmesan. Serve with gluten-free rosemary sea salt foccacia*.
*The foccacia is not actually a recipe. All I did was take a package of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free pizza crust mix, follow the directions on the package (substituting flax mixed with water for the eggs), form into a rectangle on a baking sheet, top with sea salt and rosemary, and bake. Super easy, and REALLY delicious.
Feb 21, 2013
***WARNING: This recipe is not vegan. It is plant-heavy and full of real, wonderful ingredients that are as delicious as they are good for you. However, if you are a strict vegan or cannot handle dairy, this one isn’t for you…see variations below.
My mom is an amazing cook and entertainer. She is one of those gifted people who can have a house full of guests and make each and every one of them feel special and welcome…and they always leave full.
One of her go-to appetizers was a spinach dip that she served in a hollowed-out loaf of Hawaiian bread. When I was really young, I wouldn’t touch it because of all the green. Then I realized it was absolutely delicious and I would request it whenever possible. And THEN I discovered the ingredients list, and I vowed to never eat it again. Until now.
My dip is different from my moms, but it has everything I love about hers: creamy texture, a little bit of crunch, and a perfect balance of tangy and smoothness. Even better, I have added kale to give an extra punch of nutrition and a dash of cayenne for heat. Instead of bread, I serve mine with carrots, celery, and tortilla chips. But I really think I could eat this with a spoon!
1 Cup finely chopped kale (I like the frozen kale from Whole Foods Market!)
¼ Cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely chopped
¼ Cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 ¼ Cup chopped spinach
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne
¼ tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. agave nectar or stevia (optional)
½ Cup- ¾ Cup Greek yogurt
Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add kale, onion, and garlic and sauté until onion is softened (2-3 minutes). Add carrot and bell pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add spinach, salt, cayenne, and parsley and heat until spinach has wilted (approximately 1 minute). Remove from heat. In a bowl, combine vegetables and yogurt (I like my veggie-to-yogurt ratio high, so I use less yogurt) and add sweetener if desired (it cuts down on the “tang” of the yogurt). Stir until everything is well incorporated and refrigerate until cool. Serve with crackers, chips, or chopped vegetables.
Feb 4, 2013
As much as I like to think that I take pretty good care of myself, there is one thing that I have always been really terrible about: eating breakfast. I know...the most important meal of the day, blah blah blah. But honestly, I am lucky if I get a chance to drink a cup of coffee in the midst of the morning rush here at my house.
I created this recipe to try to change this. These little pancakes are SO yummy and are perfect for revving up my metabolism and giving me good energy for mornings at the gym. The recipe is for a single serving because I like to make them fresh each morning, but I am sure that you could make a bigger batch and store them to grab and go throughout your week.
1/4 cup gluten-free flour (I like Cup 4 Cup or Trader Joe's *new* all-purpose GF flour)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 TBSP ground flax seeds
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I use Vega, but use whatever you like best here)
1 TBSP dried cranberries (I have also done lemon zest and blueberries...and maybe chocolate chips on a particularly indulgent morning...)
Mix flour, applesauce, flax, and protein powder together in a bowl with a fork until well-incorporated. Fold in cranberries. Heat pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Pour 3-inch circles of batter into pan. Once pancakes are bubbling on top, flip and cook other side. Eat and don't share :).
Aug 7, 2012
Well, it has happened people. I had a tough week. No more sunshine and rainbows marathon training here…just grueling miles upon miles of excruciating running. I have learned some things after this week though, the most important being not to over-train. Up to this point, I have been cross training several times per week with kickboxing, weights, and cardio interval training. I think cross training is fabulous, and I really enjoy these activities, but I am going to have to choose between them each week rather than participate in all of them. As we up our miles, my body is protesting and I have to respect it if I want to survive until October. But just because I had a tough week, that doesn’t mean I am any less excited about what I am doing. I pushed through this training even when it wasn’t fun, and that makes me feel stronger and better prepared for the tougher weeks to come.
Total runs: 8
Total miles: 43.6
Good thoughts: Eight runs?! What on earth was I thinking?! And why in the world am I talking about it in my “good thoughts”? Because I am running with my kids, people! That’s right, I have inspired my kids to lace-up their shoes and get out there. This has actually been going on for a few weeks, but this is the first time that they have wanted to go out multiple times in one week. Yeah, it pushed my miles over the edge. And you bet there were a couple times where I wanted to cry when they asked to run. But I can’t tell you how good it feels to know that a.) my kids want to do something with me that they know I enjoy, and b.) that I am inspiring my kids to take care of and challenge their bodies. Combine that with all the Olympic events we have been watching, and I feel like my little athletes are ready to take on the world. Oh, and my eight-year-old had a personal best mile with a time of 8:02.
Not-so-good-thoughts: Where do I begin? How about the pain in my left foot radiating through my ankle, up my shin, and to my knee with every step? Or how about with the thunderstorm that greeted us on our 14-mile run this past weekend? Or maybe I should start with this lovely Ohio humidity that makes me feel like I am drinking the air every time I inhale? Obviously this wasn’t the smoothest week of running, but like I said before, I am figuring some things out and am ready to tackle this week with a new outlook. Plus, I have some orthopedic sandals on their way that I am going to wear around the house to hopefully alleviate some of this foot pain. Yeah, orthopedic shoes are so sexy, I know ;). If anyone has a recommendation for a relatively lightweight shoe with some good arch support that can withstand long runs, let me know.
Vegan thoughts: I have to be honest, I rarely think about the fact that I am a “vegan” anymore. This is just the way I eat, and it has to fall in line with the demands of my training. I get plenty of extra protein (thanks to Vega powder in my green smoothie every day) and take a couple supplements to fill-in where my diet can’t (like B-12). I have been ordering a plant-based sport drink powder to keep in my fuel belt for our long runs, but this week I ran out. Knowing that it wouldn’t arrive in time for this week’s 14-miler, I experimented in the kitchen a bit and wouldn’t you know? I made my own Gatorade! It has lemon and lime juice for flavor, a little agave nectar to subdue the tartness of the citrus fruits, and coconut water to replenish electrolytes and provide slow-burning sugar. It is so refreshing and it really tastes so good, minus all the dyes, artificial sweeteners, and who-knows-what-else you can find in other sports drinks. And because I am such a swell gal, I am sharing the recipe with you here!
LEMON-LIME SPORT DRINK
1 cup coconut water
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 Tablespoon agave nectar
Combine all ingredients. Stir or shake vigorously until well combined. Drink and enjoy.
Aug 1, 2012
You know those cooking shows where they dramatically reveal a secret, often crazy, ingredient and expect the competing chefs to utilize it in every dish of a meal? That’s what I feel like I did here. Because you would never expect BEANS to top the list of your cookie ingredients, and yet they do here, and it totally works.
I have tried all kinds of “light” cookie recipes, and not once have I had a batch turn out with the right texture or flavor. They are always a little too cakey and bland to be that indulgent little treat I want from a cookie. Dessert is a once-in-a-while thing, so it better be worth it, right?!
But now, after countless attempts, I really feel like I have stumbled upon something wonderful. The kids gobbled them up, and Jim was too busy grabbing another to comment. Not only are these free of eggs and dairy, but they are also oil-free and gluten-free (as long as you use gluten-free oats, of course). Seriously, though, no one would know unless you told them…and why would you do a crazy thing like that?
It says a lot when there is not a single picture of these cookies without a bite taken out of them!
WHITE BEAN SNICKERDOODLES
¾ cup oats
1 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ cup white beans, drained
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Pulse oats in a food processor until finely ground. Stir together oats, rice flour, baking powder, baking soda and ½ tsp. cinnamon. Set aside.
Puree beans. Add applesauce and ½ cup sugar and blitz in food processor until well-combined. Stir in vanilla extract, then add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing well.
Mix together 2 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Form dough into tablespoon-sized balls and roll in sugar mixture. Smoosh slightly and place onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes and let cool slightly before enjoying with a big glass of almondmilk.
Jul 30, 2012
Hooray for taper week! Our long run was only 9 miles this week, and it is amazing how much shorter that feels having gone so much further the past few weeks. At the same time, it is funny to call 9 miles a “break,” because not that long ago, 9 miles would have been all I had in me. Bottom line: training diligently really does work.
Total runs: 6
Total miles: 31.31
Good thoughts: I still feel strong at the end of a run, which is such a big confidence booster. Don’t get me wrong…I am pushing myself out there, especially on shorter days when I play with my stride and cadence a little bit. But even then I don’t feel completely spent when I get to the end of a run. I know I have more in me, and I know I am feeling pretty good that those extra miles in me are what will push me to the end of 26.2. Long story short, I am really thinking I can do this.
Not-so-good thoughts: Gnarly feet. Can I tell you how gross my toes are right now without compromising our friendship? Good, because my feet are gross. I have had running calluses in the past, and to be honest, I have never been much of a pedicure kind of girl. But the past several weeks of blisters and tape and callous-building have made my feet an embarrassment. No black or lost toenails yet, but then again, we aren’t even halfway through training. Hopefully that won’t happen until we are well past flip flop weather!
Vegan thoughts: Dates are one of my most favorite treats in the world. Yeah, they kind of look like cockroaches, but they are sweet and gooey goodness. Plus, I can grab one right before a run for a natural boost of energy that won’t weigh me down mid-run. Sometimes, though, when I plan ahead a little, I make a batch of my own homemade energy bites, and they take all the goodness of dates and combine them with healthy fats and protein to make a seriously amazing treat. My friend Karen originally posted the recipe a few months back on her blog, and you can see it here with some pictures. But really, these things are so good they are worth sharing again…
COCOA-COCO-ALMOND ENERGY BITES
9 pitted prunes, chopped
15 pitted dates, chopped
¼ cup unsweetened coconut
7 raw almonds
1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. stevia (or powdered sugar, if you prefer).
Combine the first five ingredients in a food processor and pulse until sticky and clumping together. Add additional coconut or almonds if the mixture is too wet, or add additional dates if the mixture is too dry.
Mix together 1 Tbsp. cocoa and stevia (or powdered sugar). Roll tablespoon-sized balls of the mixture in cocoa mix.
Refrigerate until firm, or keep in freezer if you plan to carry it with you on a long run.
Jun 29, 2012
It has reached 100°F here today, so the kids and I played outside this morning before the temperatures climbed too high, spending our afternoon inside in the comfort of our air conditioning.
I bought a ton of fresh vegetables (zucchini, squash, yellow bell pepper, grape tomatoes, red onion, and baby spinach) at the market yesterday and planned to sauté and serve them with pasta tonight, but the idea of cooking over a hot stove on a day like today just seems wrong. I want my veggies to be crisp and cool today, so I changed my plans and started to experiment
We eat raw bell peppers, tomatoes, and spinach all the time around here. The challenge was the zucchini, squash, and onion. Like meat, these are vegetables that are often considered necessary to cook. And so, I treated them like meat by marinating them. I made a mix of balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, salt, and pepper, added the vegetables, and let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for 3 hours…
This is not just a simple salad. This is full of flavor and texture and depth. The zucchini and squash soaked-up the marinade like sponges and were bursting with the sweet and tangy punch of the balsamic. The onion lost just enough of its bite to be flavorful rather than painful. The tomatoes and pepper maintained their crunch, and the spinach wilted just enough for the dish to not seem like “just another salad.” Colorful, delicious, and full of live nutrients, this is the kind of dish I will be going back to all summer.
RAW MARINATED FARMER’S MARKET SALAD
4 cups raw baby spinach
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 zucchini, cut into ½ -inch cubes
1 yellow squash, cut into ½ -inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
½ red onion, diced
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 ½ Tbsp. agave nectar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Combine vegetables in a large bowl. Whisk together vinegar, agave nectar, and salt and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables, tossing to incorporate. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours. Serve on chilled plates and enjoy!
*Note: This recipe has so much potential to be customized to your particular tastes. Try changing to red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar! Add a hearty green like kale (which is sometimes difficult to eat raw, but not when marinated!). Add Dijon mustard or your favorite spices!
Jun 19, 2012
I love cookbooks and have been known to check-out stacks of them from the library at a time. It is fun to be inspired by the pros to try new ingredients and flavor combinations, tweaking them to fit my family’s preferences. The beauty of the library is that if we aren’t crazy about the book, we can give it back and move on. However, if I find myself going to the same book over and over again, I will usually just buy it, adding to my own little library of tried-and-true favorites.
A couple of years ago I received an interesting cookbook that added vegetables to “kid-friendly” recipes where vegetables would not traditionally be present. Usually pureed, the fruits and vegetables were hidden in the dishes, tricking picky eaters into eating the nutrient-rich foods we moms know they need.
I tested a lot of the recipes, some with great success...others not so much. But here’s the thing: I don’t want to sneak vegetables to my kids. I want to present vegetables in a way that they will choose them happily, even when I am not around. I am not saying that I expect my kids to cheer every time they see kale on their plates, but I am willing to try preparing it a few different ways to see if we can find a way they do like it. And I don’t want to lie to them, either. If there are pureed carrots in their mac n’ cheese sauce, they can know about it. That way, they won’t be so quick to wrinkle their noses at carrots when they are in a different dish in the future!
All that said, I absolutely love the idea of adding vegetables to dishes we already enjoy…I just don’t think I should have to be sneaky in order to do it. This cookbook inspired me to add all kinds of crazy things to our old recipes, making a lot of our go-to favorites not only healthier but tastier, too!
Now, I know there are some parents out there scoffing at me because they have a kid that would rather go on a hunger strike than touch a single broccoli floret. If hiding those veggies works for your family, keep at it! But as a kneadfresh challenge, try to get your kids (or your spouse, or yourself!) to willingly eat produce they “don’t like” every once in a while. There are endless ways to prepare most vegetables, and you may stumble upon a new favorite. Of course, this won’t always work, but persistence pays off…eventually!
Oatmeal is one of those dishes that is a blank canvas just waiting for all kinds of plant-based goodness to be added to it. Today I made a batch inspired by vegetable quick breads, topped with fresh fruit and nuts for natural sweetness and some texture. The kids can see the flecks of zucchini and carrot, but they
don’t care because it tastes so good.
SUMMER QUICK-BREAD OATMEAL
1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups unsweetened vanilla almondmilk (or non-dairy milk of choice)*
2 carrots, grated
1 small zucchini, grated
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
dash of salt
¼ cup agave nectar (or sweetener of choice)
fresh fruit and nuts for topping (I used raspberries, bananas, and raw almonds)
*Water can be used in place of milk, but I really love the creaminess of almondmilk in this particular recipe!
Bring milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in oats, carrot, zucchini, and salt and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 30-35 minutes until liquid is absorbed and oats are tender (adding more liquid if necessary). Add sweetener and toppings to taste. Enjoy warm.
Jun 14, 2012
Nope, it is not an advertising gimmick from my mini-entrepreneurs. Our lemonade is vegan, and a lot of lemonade out there is not. Huh? Turns out more than half the sugar sold in the United States is processed using animal bone char filters. That's why Whole Foods has a special bag of "Vegan Sugar" next to the other sweeteners in the baking aisle, and a lot of products at Trader Joe's don't have the trusty "V" label I depend on when shopping there.
So when the boys asked to sell lemonade this week, it provided me with an opportunity to experiment a bit and devise my own recipe using some different sweetener options. Honey is out, because bees make it (though I have to admit that I still do enjoy honey from time to time...nothing tastes quite the same in my chamomile tea). Stevia can have a bitter aftertaste if you aren't used to it, so that's out too. However, agave nectar is perfect: super sweet, so we need less of it to sweeten the whole batch of lemonade, and neutral in flavor, letting all that lemony goodness shine through.
After squeezing the lemons (a great way to wear your kids out if they have too much energy!) and measuring ingredients (math! A+ mom moment!), we mixed and tasted, tweaking our ratios until it was a perfect combo of sweet and tangy. We added frozen berries to keep it cool, which turned the whole batch a really beautiful shade of pink. At 25 cents a cup, I would say our lemonade was a pretty good deal. The boys are already scheming what vegan baked goods to sell with the lemonade for next time...stay tuned for what we dream-up!
1 1/2 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice (snobby foodie moment here: fresh lemon juice really does make a difference. It tastes SO good, and is more than worth the extra effort).
3/4 cup raw agave nectar
8 cups cold filtered water
2 cups frozen berry mix
Strain lemon juice to ensure that all seeds are separated from the juice. Combine lemon juice with agave nectar and water, stirring well. Add frozen berries to keep cool, and serve over ice.
Jun 6, 2012
I am from a long line of women who “feed to love.” Have a bad day? Let’s make some cookies! Good report card? Have a piece of pie! Boy break your heart? How about a little cake? Hit a homerun? I just pulled brownies out of the oven! There is something undeniably special about a homemade treat, and I am happy that I have inherited the gift of wanting to cook and bake for others to show that I care.
That said, I don’t want to be “the crazy vegan who serves weird food that tastes like cardboard.” I want to make things that make people feel welcome in my home and taste so good that they forget that it is missing butter and eggs. So, I have been conducting experiments in the kitchen and testing them every Wednesday when our Bible study group comes over. I get to try new recipes, I get to show them I care by feeding them, and they can review them honestly but kindly (because they are a BIBLE group…they aren’t allowed to lie or be mean, right?!).
For tonight’s gathering, I decided to use-up the overripe bananas on the counter and see what I could throw together. I began to check on some of my favorite recipe blogs for some ideas, and ended-up combining a bunch of banana muffin and bread recipes to accommodate my own tastes and the ingredients I had on hand.
OH. MY. GOODNESS. The Bible study group is lucky tonight. This is easily the best banana bread I have ever made, and quite possibly the best I have ever tasted. It is going to take a lot of effort to hide it from Jim and the kids, especially when the house smells so delicious…and, well, I HAVE to have a little bit more for, um, quality control…
2 very ripe bananas
1 ½ cups white whole wheat flour
½ cup oat flour (or 1 cup oats pulsed in the food processor a few times)
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. nutmeg
½ cup agave nectar
4 Tbsp. ground flax seeds
½ cup warm water
2 Tbsp. butter-flavored grapeseed oil
½ cup almondmilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mash bananas with a fork and set aside.
Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, combine flax seed and warm water and let sit for a minute or two. Add agave nectar, oil, almondmilk, and bananas. Stir well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently stir to combine. Be careful not to overmix.
Lightly grease a standard loaf pan. Pour batter into pan and top with slivered almonds. Bake for 50-55 minutes and remove from oven to cool. Serve warm.
***I like my banana bread just like this, but I think that this hearty version would do well with additions like chocolate chips, dried fruit, coconut, or walnuts. Experiment and let me know what you create!
Jun 5, 2012
I dressed today's lunch of mixed greens, strawberries, blackberries, raw almonds, & chick'n with my favorite basic dressing recipe.
I made my first attempt at homemade salad dressing several years ago when following a recipe from Cooking Light Magazine. Before then, it had never occurred to me that salad dressing from a bottle contained actual ingredients and that I could combine those ingredients myself to make dressing at home. After realizing just how easy it was to do and how much better it tasted, the bottles of store-bought dressing languished in the refrigerator only to be tossed in the trash as their expiration dates approached.
More recently, I have learned about some of the pretty scary ingredients that can hide in bottled dressings including preservatives, artificial colors, and lab-created flavorings. These ingredients have been linked to all kinds of health problems. Gross.
The following is a dressing that I use on EVERYTHING including basic green salads, rice salad, and potato salad. You really only need a whisk and a bowl to prepare it, but I love using my little salad dressing mixer from Pampered Chef. You can multiply the dressing as needed, but I try to make only as much as I need for that day because I like it best super fresh. However, I am told that it will stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Wildtree Natural Grapeseed Oil
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Whisk together vinegar, honey, and mustard until well-combined. Continue to whisk as you slowly pour in oil. Add salt and pepper. Chill until ready to use.
Jun 2, 2012
I am the mother of a baseball family. Just two years ago, that sentence would not have meant much to me; so what? Your kids play baseball. But I have quickly learned that the role of “baseball mom” requires hours of rounding-up bats and gloves, washing uniforms, filling water bottles, cheering in the sun, and chasing a toddler around the fields while her brothers play. It is so much fun, which is good because more than half my week is consumed by preparing for and attending baseball games.
And of course, Jim is the coach. Of two teams. We haven’t seen each other since the beginning of April…
All that said, I still have to feed the whole family, preferably before the game so they have energy to play and can get showered and in bed at a reasonable hour. With all the rushing around that happens around here on game nights, it is essential that these meals are quick, compact, and get as much nutrition into each bite as possible (especially for my Coach Dad who sometimes can only eat half of his meal before rushing to the baseball diamond).
Sandwiches and wraps fit the bill perfectly. I can pack them full of veggies, hummus, and whatever else might be inspiring me that night and everyone is happy. However, we are now two months into baseball season and I am running low on sandwich inspiration. So tonight, we are leaving the bread in the bread box and having…
…Stuffed Sweet Potatoes!
This little idea of mine made me so happy that I could hardly wait to start cooking dinner tonight. Baked sweet potatoes loaded with black beans, sautéed onions and red pepper, topped with salsa and chives. So simple, and yet so fresh and new! The best part is that all those ingredients are tucked into one little package: a whole meal stuffed in one potato. Each bite is bursting with layers of flavor and packed with all kinds of good-for-you stuff (Dr. Oz said that sweet potatoes are a superfood, so they must be, right?!). I served them with baked polenta drizzled with butter-flavored grapeseed oil. Take that, sandwich rut!
STUFFED SWEET POTATOES
4 orange-flesh sweet potatoes
1 red bell pepper
½ cup vegetable stock
1 can black beans
Your favorite salsa
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour.
While potatoes are baking, heat vegetable stock in a pan over medium-high heat. Chop onion and pepper and add to pan. Cook in stock until liquid has mostly evaporated and vegetables are soft (you may have to add a little more stock if it evaporates too quickly…keep an eye on it!). Rinse and drain beans and add to the pan, cooking until heated through.
Split potatoes and top with a generous helping of beans and vegetables. Top with chives and salsa. Dig in.
I used Trader Joe’s prepared polenta, sliced into ¼ inch rounds, and baked on each side for 10 minutes. Drizzled with Wildtree butter-flavored grapeseed oil, this is an easy, delicious side dish.
May 22, 2012
I started to experiment making my own veggie burgers a few years ago after discovering The Northstar Burger at my beloved Northstar Café. Not one of those flimsy patties you find in the supermarket frozen foods aisle, this thing is a culinary miracle. Black beans, brown rice, and beets, grilled to perfection and accompanied by gourmet sandwich bread, lettuce, tomato, pickles, mustard and a simple side salad. It is enough to make a beef burger insane with jealousy and it forever changed the way I think about vegan cooking.
But as much as I love a trip to Northstar for my burger fix, it isn’t practical to spend $13 on a sandwich more than once in a while. Besides, I love to cook meals at home, and so I set out to create a homemade version to enjoy in my own kitchen.
Through my countless experiments, I have never written down an “official” recipe in my cookbook. Rather, I have discovered a few essential components that I can change depending on the seasonal availability of ingredients and my family’s preferences. This allows me to be creative with what I have on hand rather than running to the store for that “special” ingredient.
I present, The Anatomy of a Veggie Burger…
BEANS. Beans are so full of good stuff and really lend a “meaty” texture to a veggie burger without using highly processed soy products. I always mash mine with a fork until most of the beans are smooshed. I have used black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, and pinto beans (and combinations of all of them) with great success. A can of beans, drained and rinsed, works great here and is convenient. However, if you have a spare 2 cups of traditionally cooked beans, use those (and save yourself some sodium!).
BINDER. If you eat eggs, you can use one here. My favorite vegan binder is ground flax seed. Just soak two tablespoons of ground flax with ¼ cup warm water and let sit for 5 minutes.
GRAIN. This is what soaks-up all the liquid and adds some more texture to your burger. My favorite is cooked brown rice, but I have also used quinoa, bulgur, and raw oats. I usually start with a ½ cup and add more until the mixture resembles ground meat in texture.
FLAVOR. Seasonings and vegetables make a plain bean patty special. Onion, corn, bell pepper, jalapeno, tomato sauce, carrots, rosemary, garlic…let your imagination take over and add what you like best. The beets in the Northstar Burger give it a beefy-pink color and lend a little sweetness, which I love, but a little goes a long way.
REFRIGERATION. A lot of people complain that when making homemade veggie burgers, they just fall apart in the pan or on the grill. I have had the same problem, and I found that if you chill your mix in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight), it will hold together just fine. Even better, that time to rest gives all the flavors a chance to mingle and makes each bite that much better.
This is last night’s dinner, a patty of kidney beans, sautéed corn, carrots, and onion, brown rice, oats, flax seed, and jalapeno pepper. Served on a whole wheat bun with spicy mustard, accompanied by steamed kale and lemon-rosemary roasted potatoes (which beat fries any day, I promise). It actually took all my strength to take a picture of it for you before devouring it!
I can’t wait to hear what veggie burger variations you come-up with…please share your successes here!
May 19, 2012
I have never met a mom who says that her kids eat too many vegetables, and my kids are no exception. It seems like we are always trying to find new, creative ways to present nutrient-dense foods to our families so that they will be eaten without complaint.
Now I am a girl who never hesitates to fill her plate full of spinach, kale, and collards; but even I get bored with the salad bar from time to time. This is when my Stand-by Green Smoothie comes in handy. It is sweet enough to feel like a treat, but has a whopping 2 cups of raw spinach in it. It is a refreshing post-workout snack and has served as a quick breakfast or lunch on particularly hectic days.
But it isn’t just for me! My kids BEG for this smoothie. My two-year old scurries to the kitchen whenever she hears the blender going, jumping up and down yelling, “CUP!” until I give her a sample. And while the boys (including my husband) used to wrinkle their noses watching me drink something so green, they too fell in love once they gave it a try.
I make this recipe almost every single day. The banana adds the perfect amount of sweetness, and the almondmilk and coconut add some richness without adding too many calories. There are an infinite number of ways you can customize this to your particular tastes, and I will be sure to share some of my favorite seasonal variations in the future. In the meantime, embrace the green and drink up!
THE STAND-BY GREEN SMOOTHIE
½ cup frozen fruit (usually either frozen blueberries or a half of a frozen banana)
½ cup unsweetened almondmilk
½ cup water
¼ cup coconut water
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Blend, pour, enjoy.