Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good Morning Sunshine: Oatmeal is saying, 'Hello!'

On a cold, winter's morning, with an afternoon of studying before me, there's no better meal I can think of than slow-cooked Scottish Oats--and a big cup of Earl Grey, of course. They fancy their oats a bit more... 'soupy' here in London, and I found I could embrace that while improving upon it with a multitude of different options.

Now, if you're like me and, until recently, the idea of oatmeal seemed unappealing due to its boring, instant counterpart appearing for breakfast during grade school, I sympathize. But I'll make this my appeal to you: give it another shot! The world of oats has so much potential for every palate, and it doesn't have to be the gluey, sugar-high mess of the past.

My new love for oatmeal began as I started to replace the water for milk... and then milk for coconut milk... and then some banana, some flax seed, vanilla, chocolate, cacao, walnuts, dates! The possibilities are endless and here's the easy recipe for two of my favorites to prove it; no strict rules here, feel free to make it your own.

My favorite part about this breakfast treat is it sustains you well into lunch time with hearty fiber (better than even whole wheat toast) and can go sweet with a variety of all natural sources such as cinnamon, coconut, and a various fresh & dried fruits. Organic soy milk is key for this, sweetened only with organic apple juice (not from concentrate). The amount each recipe makes is for one serving size, but tweak to your liking--I always use 1 part oats to 2 parts liquid + banana for thickening (feel free to omit this and add a bit more liquid as necessary).

Oh, and I would LOVE if you guys would comment any and all of your own ideas or personal oat creations!

Tropical Crunch
I like to eat this one on a rainy day and pretend I'm back on a California beach

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup coconut milk (I've used from the can but will soon be experiment with making my own)
1/4 cup organic sweetened soy milk
1 medium banana, well mashed
1 medjool date, roughly chopped
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ground flax seed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch of raw pink Himalayan sea salt
Toppings: unsweetened shredded coconut flakes, crumbled pecans, sliced banana
Mix all the ingredients together in a pot and bring to a bowl. Turn heat to low and simmer according to package directions (varies depending on the type of oats, if you're going the slow cooking way this can be up to 30 minutes, most oats are about 5 though). Remove from heat and add toppings, enjoy!


Chocolate Peanut-Butter Dream
This is a great way to start your day with some mood-lifting cacao and energy-inducing peanut-butter

1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 large banana, well mashed
2 medjool dates, cut into small pieces
1 Tbsp of cacao nibs
1/2 Tbsp. goji berries (if you have 'em; they can be quite expensive)
1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. ground flax
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch raw pink Himalayan sea salt
Toppings: a dollop of peanut-butter, crushed walnuts, pomegranate seeds, cacao nibs

Mix all the ingredients together in a pot and bring to a bowl. Turn heat to low and simmer according to package directions (varies depending on the type of oats, if you're going the slow cooking way this can be up to 30 minutes, most oats are about 5 though). Remove from heat and add toppings, enjoy!

Peace&Love

Saturday, December 11, 2010

9am Fiesta Cookies: Feel the Churro Love!

Looking for something to spice up your morning? Want to party but don't have the energy? Well, I wouldn't necessarily recommend these cookies for breakfast, but they'll make a great addition to your early afternoon fiestas!

Infused with coffee & walnuts, and rolled in decadent Cinnamon Sugar, these cookies are some of the most airy vegan cookies I've had (not to give myself too much credit, of course). I recommend eating them shortly after baking to keep them from becoming too dense. Recipe loosely adapted from chooseveg.com (awesome site, check it out)!

A good sign: As I was baking them, Toni came into the room, his nose hot on the trial. "It smells like Disneyland". I suppose this could be a bad thing (giant turkey legs? dirty water??), but he meant churros--and boy did these taste like a mini-version of our favorite Mexican treat! Plus, you get to skip the whole deep fried bit & enjoy your dessert knowing its cruelty-free.

Oh, and I just knew I had to post these when I found out I won the DailyMeal & Flour Bakery Contest! Flour Bakery is this renowned Bakery with three locations around Boston, MA (one right by my house); unfortunately, they only have a few vegan items (though at least they clearly label them!) but, since I got their cookbook for free as a prize, I can't wait to try out some of the recipes and veganize some others :D (I will the vegan counterparts to them). Check out my cookies that won!

9am Fiesta Cookies

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup strongly brewed coffee
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. apple sauce (I used one with apple cider in it)
  • 2 cornstarch eggs (2 Tbsp. cornstarch + 2 Tbsp. water)
  • Cinnamon, brown sugar, and turbinado sugar, to coat
Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and get out a large ungreased cookie sheet.
2. Prepare the coating mixture by adding cinnamon, brown sugar, and turbinado sugar together in a small flat bottom bowl to your likely (I did a ratio of 1:1:2, about 1/2 cup total)
3. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl (up to salt). Add together the wet ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Using your hands form the dough into a big ball. (If it sticks together well, then it's the right consistency. If not, add a bit of water and mix it well.)
5. Form the dough into small cookie-sized balls and roll them into the cinnamon-sugar mixture. 6. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball a little bit. Bake for approximately 5 minutes, or until the top is cooked (no longer sticky or wet) but it is still very soft (if in doubt, take them out; they will continue to cook a bit when you take them out. Enjoy!

Peace&Love

PS. Just in case you forgot, here's what the winning cookies (Happy Cow Cakey Peanut Butter Cookies, a mouth full--of cookies that is), looked like:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Union of Opposites: A Salad & Grilled Cheezly

You may not have noticed but I've been on a bit of a comfort-food kick lately. I blame finals... and the snow... but mostly finals. Also there's a sadness surrounding this whole time because not only must I be cooped up with a blinking word doc as my only friend (okay, exaggeration), but these last two weeks are my last two in London (for now!), what am I doing in the library?!

Good question, and that's why I abandoned the library in favor of better fayre this past weekend: the Animal Aid Fayre that is. Besides the plethora of sweets I stocked up on (I know, I know, but there's just so many vegan options in one place!), I also grab some of the infamous Cheezly, London's go-to vegan cheeze brand.

I've heard mixed reviews, some raving that I need to try it, others believing Daiya would be a better alternative (I say people think the grass is just greener in the other country). QuarryGirl posted a good review of these cheezes back to back & I generally agree with her: I came down on the side of Cheezly.

Ultimately I think Cheezly melts betters, is slightly cheaper (at least over here!), and it doesn't try to be something its not. No, Cheezly's Gouda does not taste like Gouda (in fact, don't get that one, it was my least favorite, too sweet!), but its Edam style has a taste of its own and is delicious both in a grilled cheeze or topping a fresh spinach & fruit salad.

Though I will admit, for many Daiya is a healthier alternative, free of many common allergens, to me Daiya cheese is a bit too sweet and, unfortunately, doesn't offer a variety of flavors yet. Mostly people can find one Cheezly style groove with. And that's exactly what I plan to do for the next few weeks here. Fulfill my comfort-food needs with Cheezly!

You can also order it online, but unfortunately most places don't yet have my favorite Edam style--if you find it let me know! The mozzarella & cheddar is also great though! If you get your hands on some, I suggest trying this easy, epically delicious (not-so-healthy) sandwich & pair it with vegan tomato soup (trust me, this is crucial):

Monsterous Grilled Cheezly

Ingredients

* 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
* 1/3 onion, sliced into rings
* 1/4 cup fresh spinach
* 1 T, veganaise
* 2 slices from Cheezly's block (style of choice)
* 2 slices wholewheat bread
* 1 T, Earth Balance, softened

Directions

1. In a frying pan, heat canola oil over medium, then add sliced onion. Set to medium-low and saute until soft & translucent (I did it a little over this to give them a nice grill). Remove from heat and transfer onions to a separate plate.
2. Now to assemble your sandwich. Spread half of the Earth Balance on one side of one of the slices of bread. Place it in the frying pan and add the slices of cheeze on top. Bring the pan back to the stove and grill on low--this is going to be a slow grilling process so all the cheeze can melt but the bread won't burn (carcinogenic toast is not comforting). This will vary from stove to stove but if it starts to toast too quickly, lower heat or add a little extra oil.
3. As the cheeze is melting, butter one side of the remaining piece of toast and set aside until the stovetop cheeze has almost completely melted (approximately 3 minutes). At this point, top the melted cheeze with the grilled onions and spinach. Spread the veganize on the unbutter side of the remaining slice of bread and place atop the spinach, mayo side down.
4. Carefully flip the sandwich and allow the slice of bread to slowly grill (add a little extra oil if needed). Remove from heat when thoroughly toasted & try dipping it in some warm tomato soup! Enjoy!

Want to make this sandwich TRULY epic? Add in one of Redwood Food's VegiDeli Organic Schnitzel, pure fried food heaven. Lucky for us Heather Mills (ex-wife of Paul McCartney and model turned animal rights charity campaigner) has bought out Cheezly and is bringing it to America; you may have seen their products around the US already, being sample in places like the Boston Vegetarian Festival. Expect to be seeing Cheezly & other great products in local stores soon!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To Pickle or Not to Pickle: A collection of Veganized Polski Recipes

It wasn't long ago that you'd see me pulling off dill pickles from my veggie burger or turning my nose up at my grandma's pickled cucumbers. But not any longer, I'm a born-again pickled-food lover and juicy pickles & sauerkraut are at the top of that list.

It's all thanks, of course, to that pesky, Polski boyfriend of mine. Dumplings filled with cream cheese you say? A soup that's 99% beets? I don't think I had even taste a fresh beet before I met him and over the years, more than anything, he's changed and enriched my palate. (I like to think I've done the same for him, considering his move to more healthy, vegetarian fare).

So what's a girl to do when she gets a craving for some good 'ol meat-heavy Polish comfort food? Veganize it, of course! I'm determined to prove that Polish food can be just as good (well, nearly) without all the animal sacrifices. It all began with a Borscht... the first attempt turned out too terrible to eat (then again, it was also my first soup attempt and I tried winging it in under an hour... no good).

Second attempt, Borscht number two! Still came out bland and watery. My reliance on the beef-based soup recipe just wouldn't cut it, so in the third and most recent attempt I used maximum veggie-power, a good vegetable broth, and gave it plenty of hours to stew in its out delicious red juices. The outcome? Perfection. Well almost, I'm going to tweak it one last time before posting the recipe, but you can gaze longingly at this picture until then.

Moving on to last week's dinner, Galumpkies filled with quinoa mix and baked in tomato sauce. I apologize for the especially bad picture reminiscent of a cheap Mexican menu photo (I'm thinking it might be the case that if you have no good photograph to show, don't show one at all). I'm not sure if I mentioned, but a few weeks ago my camera died (and a bit of me with it). I think it a good thing though because I'm now getting a real DSLR for Christmas! But yes, that is the reason for this low-quality camera phone picture. No worries though, I rounded up Toni's camera with some new batteries and I'm back in business with...

Sauerkraut sandwiches! I've walk passed this sauerkraut every time I popped into the grocery store, and every time I did all I could to resist its temptation... today I caved and got some fresh (gluten-free!) rye bread and spicy mustard to go with. Paired with fresh spinach and a hemping mound of sauteed onions, I was in heaven!

Now I've supplied the recipes for these last two here below, but if I were you I'd make the adjustments I couldn't and that is in trying out how some sort of meat (particularly sausage) substitute might go in these dishes. I'm waiting because I'm trying to fine tune a from scratch version. Either way, these cultural classics are delectable. Once I'm home over winter break I'm veganizing the perogies!

So what have we learned from this whole affair? A word to the wise, don't knock your boyfriend's odd eating habits too quickly, you may find out you actually like (LOVE) 'em.

Savory Baked Galumpkies

Ingredients

* 1 large onion, diced
* 2 T, canola oil
* 3 cloves garlic, minced & pressed
* 2 cups quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth
* 2 large carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
* 2 T, pepper
* 2 t, raw pink Himalayan salt
* 1 t, ground cumin
* 1/2 t, garlic salt
* 8-10 large savory cabbage leaves
* 2 cans sieved tomatoes (regular tomato sauce will do)

Directions

1. In a frying pan, heat canola oil over medium, then add the onions. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until soft & translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add 1 of the garlic cloves and saute for about 30 seconds more or until just fragrant. Remove from heat.
2. Add chopped carrots to a microwave safe bowl with a tablespoon water. Place a microwave-safe tupperware lid over the bowl (so steam can still escape) and microwave on high for approximately 3 minutes or until almost soft.
3. In a large bowl, mix cooked quinoa, onions & garlic (with oil), carrots, & additional raw garlic cloves. Add 1 T pepper, 1 t salt, cumin & garlic salt; mix well.
4. Using a sharp pairing knife, cut a triangle at the bottom of each savory cabbage leaf to remove most of the hard stem.
5. In a large pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil and add the savory cabbage leafs, boiling lightly for approximately 3-5 minutes or until malleable.
6. Pre-heat oven to 300F and get a large casserole dish ready by pouring a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom.
7. Now for the fun part, rolling your cabbage rolls! Depending on the size of your leafs, you may need more or less, but add approximately 4 T of the quinoa mixture to the inside of your leaf and compress it together in the middle. To roll it, fold in the two bottom flaps (where you made the incision) so the is no hole between them and then fold the bottom over onto the top until tightly rolled.
7. Place your cabbage roll into the casserole dish with the flap on the bottom. Do this for all your cabbage rolls. Pour the rest of the cans of tomato sauce over each cabbage roll and sprinkle remaining salt and pepper on top. Bake for approximately an hour, or until the cabbage is soft. Enjoy!


The Sandwich yet to be hit with the delicious mounds of onions, is there anything better?

Quick & Easy Sauerkraut Sandwich (pair it with a side of fried potatoes!)

Ingredients

(Makes 2)
* 1 medium onion, sliced into rings (roughly)
* 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 4 large slices fresh rye bread
* 2 tablespoon spice mustard
* 1/2 cup fresh spinach
* 1/2 cup sauerkraut
Directions

1. Heat canola oil over medium then add onions rings. Saute on medium-low until soft and translucent, approximately 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. On two slices of rye bread, spread a tablespoon of spicy mustard.
3. Add 1/2 of the spinach to each sandwich
4. Add 1/2 of the sauerkraut to each sandwich.

Peace&Love!
5. Divide the onions up, topping each sandwich with 1/2 the amount.
6. Add the final rye slice to each & enjoy! I recommend pairing this with some fried pepper-spiced potato cubes.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Move Over Almond Joy: The New Vegan Candy Bar in Town

Perhaps I'm a bit late to the game on this one, but today I just had my first Go-Max vegan candy bar. Wandering down the numerous isles of vegan-friendly booths at the Animal Aid Fayre in London, I couldn't help but be caught by the plethora of vegan snacks. In fact, I may have gone a bit overboard with 2 packs of Cheezly, 2 AMAZING cupcakes from Ms. Cupcake, some oat milk, hemp tea... I could go on.

While all of these products turned out to be fantastic (and I will post more about them soon), one stood out: the Mahalo vegan coconut-almond candy bar! Evident by my name (Coconat), I'm sure its little secret that I have a small (... large) obsession with coconut. Almonds? Yes. Vegan milk-chocolate?! YES, please.

The candy bar turned out to be just as good as I hoped, in fact, indistinguishable I'd say from an almond joy... except this is a healthier and cruelty-free alternative. The chocolate was milky in the melts-in-your-mouth type of way, with the perfect amount of almond crunch, a gooey coconut inside, not too sweet, but just right.My only regret is only trying one of the four bars they had on offer! There are numerous locations and online sites to order Go-Max candy bars from, so you can bet I'll be trying the others soon enough. I'm thinking the Jokerz will be the next big success (who doesn't love peanuts in their candy bar?).

My favorite part about Go-Max is that it leaves one less thing for would-be vegans to worry about missing. I say this with Toni in mind--a candy-bar fanatic who doesn't quite have a tongue for dark chocolate. When you have a hankering for a sin-fully delicious, creamy treat, you should definitely try out Go-Max Candy bars.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Court & Cider: or, What I'm Going to Miss About London

Its hard to believe that in a mere two weeks I'll have to leave my cute little central London apartment and fly back to the suburbs (that is until Harvard once again calls). Just when I figured out how to bake cookies in the larger toaster and the best way to do a stir-fry in $5 pans on a hot plate. One thing I won't miss is my lack of real cooking equipment, the high exchange rate, and cheap, delicious, authentic Mexican and Asian food (and In'n'Out fries... I'm sorry, guilty pleasure).

What will I miss? Amazing Indian restaurants and grocery stores (I could hardly find Fenugreek Seeds in all of Boston, let alone at these prices!), a plethora of vegan fare, numerous farmers markets and health-stores just down the corner, Monmouth Coffee, and of course, the infamous, the pubs!

Pub life is something that I think American could learn from the UK. Not because I'm a big drinker, but just the opposite. Instead of having to choose ampy bars where you can hardly hear your friends, the cool place to go grab cheap drinks also includes delicious food and a chill atmosphere. Plus, most pubs can serve up a fantastic cider... I'm thinking I'm going to have to import this stuff as my drink of choice!

One pub in particular has stood out, and I know I'm not alone in thinking this. The Court is a lively pub just off of Tottenham Court Road that is immensely popular with the local UCL crowd. On Friday nights, students and business folk alike gather, overflowing into the streets with cheap drinks in hand.

The Court is a Yellow-Card location, meaning if you put out a pound, you get a--not surprisingly--yellow card that gets your discounts at a number of pubs and bars, about 1-2 pounds off select drinks; ideal for us starving college students. While I've enjoyed my fair share of cider here (Sam Smiths Reserve or Blumers are a sweet introduction), the star of the night was the food.
Lucky me, for 6 pounds you get 2 meals and one option happened to be a Vegan Veggie Sausage and Mash. Oh yes! I had the Vegan Burger & Seasoned Chips here before, and it was, surprisingly, oh so delicious! The Veggie Sausage and Mash fared just as well. I've actually had similar veggie options while here, such as the Veggie Sausage at Wetherspoon. Let me tell you, don't waste your time, please go here!

The red onion gravy was thick and smooth and so rich it could pass off as the real meaty thing. The mash was fluffy, and the veggie sausage was perfection! It was comparable to the best onion and veggie stuffing you've had, lightly fried, but like a fresh falafel, light and veggieful on the inside, perfectly seasoned. Needless to say, for the price, its the best deal in London I've found, a steal.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's 5pm Somewhere: Wine for Breakfast

One of the highlights of our recent Germany trip had to be the visit to Kloster Eberbach. Located next to the Rhein, Kloster Eberbach is a site of magnificent architecture and home to original and delicious wine production.

A small tasting of everything finally compelled me into buying Riesling Wein Gelee. Various forms of toast & jam have become a staple in this home, particularly for Toni, so I figured it would be a great gift for him to take home. Unfortunately, it never got that far, getting stopped in airport security... too bad easy jet charges for carry on bags.

At least we had a great taste of it while in Germany; check around the site and you'll find lots of delicious fare (which you can get delivered safely).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Breakfast to LIVE For: Banana Bread Cookies & The Best Coffee EVER

Monmouth Coffee & Warm Banana Bread to fight the cold!

My friend is having a party to raise funds for their annual Christmas party in support of the charity ATD Fourth World. While Toni's doing the DJing for the night, I'm joining the girls in the kitchen: gotta love bake sales! Having just recovered from cake-overload after this weekends trip to Brighton (fantastic vegan haven!), I opted for a more subtle option: banana bread.

Not just any banana bread though, Sweet Potato Banana Bread COOKIES! These little treats are great for breakfast on the go; baked with a sprinkle of sugar on top they satisfy your morning sweet tooth, but are still tame enough to go well with some Earth Balance on top (or better yet, coconut oil!).

One of these warm cookies, paired with a pipping hot Monmouth Coffee (Costa Rican blend), was the perfect breakfast to combat the freezing temperatures outside.

On a quick side note, if you're ever in London Monmouth Coffee is a MUST. Even if you think you don't like coffee, this place may change your mind. The baristas tend to be the best in their field and have been great in assisting me about the differences in their single roast origins beans (all fair-trade & organic). I go for the filter because you can really taste the unique flavors and appreciate the subtleties; unfortunately, I think my standards are a bit too high now for returning to Boston.

Sweet Potato Banana Bread Cookies

Ingredients

  • ½ cup, steamed & mashed sweet potato
  • ½ cup, mashed banana (or little less)
  • ¼ cup, vegan white sugar (or turbinado)
  • 1/3 cup, maple syrup
  • ½ cup, light brown sugar
  • 1 cup, veggie oil
  • 1 cornstarch "egg" (mix 2 tablespoon cornstarch + 2 tablespoon water)
  • 2 t, vanilla extract
  • 1 t, lemon juice
  • 2 cups, all-purpose flour
  • 2 t, baking powder
  • 2 t, ground cinnamon
  • 1 t, ground nutmeg
  • ½ t, salt
  • 1 ¼ t, baking soda
  • ¼ cup, pecans, crushed (optional but highly recommended)
  • ¼ cup, caramelized orange rinds (optional)
  • 2-4 T, turbinado sugar (for sprinkling)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine pumpkin, sugars, maple syrup, vegetable oil, cornstarch "egg", lemon juice, and vanilla extract and mix well. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
  3. Add flour mixture to liquid mixture and mix well. The consistency should be doughy and a bit sticky to work with: it may be easier to lightly oil your hands and “kneed” the dough lightly until combined. Don’t overmix.
  4. Add in crushed pecans and orange rinds, mixing well to combine.
  5. Using about a tablespoon worth of dough, roll dough into a ball with oiled hands. Place on the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies at least two inches apart. Using a lightly oiled fork, flatten the cookies out a bit (as they won’t expand sideways much in cooking). Again, this mixture is a bit sticky, but the end result is so worth it!
  6. Sprinkle the cookies with a bit of turbinado sugar and bake approximately10-15 minutes or until just firm. I found it best to take them out just over 10 minutes once the dough is formed and more longer sticky since they continue to cook a bit once out of the oven (and no one likes overcooked bread!). Enjoy!

This is closely adapted from my Pumpkin Cookies recipe, though the result is quite different. Next time, however, I'd like to adapt the recipe using whole wheat flour (we just ran out!): if anyone tries this let me know it goes

Peace&Love

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

One Pot Meals: Spanish Couscous

Sorry for the terrible picture, made this dinner at a friends and forgot my camera to boot

I'm a big fan of the one-pot meal. Little clean up with so much variety, so much possibility to make it up as you go. Or perhaps I just like to rebel against the traditional omnivore 1-main, 1-grain, 1-veggie meal.

Couscous, the base for the recipe below, is one of my favorite grains for these one pot meals (that and quinoa, but whole wheat couscous is generally cheap). I made this one up on a whim at my friend's house. The ingredients are easy enough for transport and hearty enough to warm the soul as you catch-up with old friends over great red wine.

Spanish Couscous

Ingredients

1 Can, Tomato sauce
1/2 Cup, Whole wheat couscous
1 Large Yellow onion, diced
2 Cups, Fresh Spinach
1/4 cup Olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 t, Paprika
2 t, Garlic Salt
2 t, Salt
3 t, Pepper
1 Can, Chickpeas


Directions

1. In a large pot, cook 1/2 cup cous-cous according to package directions but omitting half the amount of water called for. Also add in tomato sauce and stir well; cook according to package directions.
2. In a large frying pan, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add in onions and cook until soft and translucent.
3. Once onions are cooked, add in spinach and 1/4 cup water. Cook spinach until wilted, stirring often. If the spinach has not wilted and all the water is absorbed, add more water a tablespoon at a time.
4. Add garlic, paprika, garlic salt, salt, and pepper to the pan and stir well for approximately 3-5 minutes, until fragrant.
5. Remove the pan from heat. Once the cous-cous is done cooking, add in the ingredients form the pan and mix well. Add in the chickpeas and mix. Enjoy!


Peace&Love

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cure That Cold: Garlicky Pasta

Garlic has been recognized for its medicinal health benefits for over 5,000 years. So, naturally, whenever I feel that scratching my the throat, along the warm tea with lemon & ginger, a garlic pill is in order. Better yet, up that garlic pill and go for the more delicious equivalent: garlicky pasta.

Here's a quick recipe to try at home, whether for infection-fighting purposes or simply because you're craving pasta but with little money to spare. This dish is surprisingly smooth and light, with the only bad side being some potentially potent breath. Don't worry, your partner will understand upon trying it themselves!

Garlicky Pasta

Ingredients
* 1/2 package whole wheat pasta
* 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
* 10 cloves garlic, roughly minced
* 1/4 C & 1 1/2 T, good olive oil
* 1 t & 1 t, raw pink Himalayan sea salt
* 1 T & 1 t, pepper
* 1 clove garlic, roughly minced

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place 1/2 package of whole wheat pasta in a large pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions.
3. In a large bowl, toss together halved tomatoes with 1 1/2 T olive oil, 1 t salt, and 1 t pepper, mixing well. Place tomatoes on baking sheet and put in oven to bake roast.
4. Now for the (more difficult) fun part! You'll smell like garlic for a while, but its a good thing! To really get the juice out of the garlic, you have one of two options. Either use a garlic press and press the hell outta them, or use the flat end of the knife (plus a little sprinkle of salt) and squeeze on the minced garlic until it begins to release its juices, repeat a few times. Place pressed garlic in a small dish and set aside.
5. In a large frying pan, heat remaining 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and set to low heat, simmering until about a minute after it becomes fragrant (don't let the garlic brown).
6. As the garlic cooks, drain pasta well. Add pasta to the frying pan once the garlic has become fragrant.
7. Remove tomatoes from the oven and toss them in with the pasta, mixing well on low to avoid any browning.
9. Add remaining 1 t salt and 1 T pepper, mixing well. Remove the pan from the heat.
10. At this point, I like to add some extra fresh, uncooked garlic for the added health benefit, so I threw in the additional minced garlic clove after pressing it thoroughly. Feel free to also add fresh herbs of your choice. Enjoy!

A few notes about Garlic:
* Garlic has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure

* It has also been studied for its ability to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, particularly through reducing the risk of blood clots

* Garlic's antibacterial effects have been recognized for hundreds of years and is still used as a home remedy for fighting off colds


Peace&Love

Friday, November 26, 2010

America Abroad: Vegan Thanksgiving in the UK

Thanksgiving for many young students (such as myself) is a favorite holiday. For one, its the perfect break in the middle of stressful exam study. Secondly, a lot of us get to come home and catch up with family and friends we haven't seen since summer, all while enjoying copious amounts of lovingly homemade comfort food. In a word, a dream for the starving student and foodie in us all.
Unfortunately, studying abroad affords you few of these luxuries. So while all of our friends were enjoying the usual Thanksgiving fix, the boyfriend and I whipped up our own 7-dish feast after coming back from a day of classes. Needless to say, dinner was at 9pm, and a few hours later was sleep from a food coma. But all in all it was a fun time, some delicious food, and gave us an opportunity to catch up and reflect on the good fortune in our lives.

I hope you guys all had a great Thanksgiving as well, and here are just some of the features from our table, and some ideas for Christmas or next year:

Featured:

Easy Traditional Stuffing: Recipe Below

Cornbread Stuffing: I edited this recipe a bit and think it worked out better. Bake the cornbread a few days in advanced and let dry out. Only use 1 T maple syrup, replace eggs with cornstarch eggs (1 "egg" = 2 T cornstarch + 2 T water), and toss everything together in the end with 1/2 cup vegetable stock. I ended up baking it bit long (10 minutes more uncovered) because of the extra liquid. Yumm!

Sweet Potato Casserole: Love Susan's recipe and this one's delicious. I topped it with about 1/2 cup crumbled graham crackers.

No-Turkey Loaf: To veganize, simply replace turkey with 4oz seiten, add about 1/4 cup Italian spiced bread crumbs and 1/4 cup cornmeal. Bake as directed, top with fresh cranberry sauce, enjoy!

Sweet Potato Pie: Love Mark Bittman's column in the NYTs, and this delicious sweet potato pie with coconut milk is just as lovable. I used a traditional homemade crust instead however, but once I have access to my cooking equipment again (oh, food processor, how I miss thee) I'm definitely going to try his crust.

Easy, Creamy Mashed Potatoes: To make the perfect veganized mashed potatoes, use soy creamer, a good dose of Earth Balance margarine, and some garlic salt.


Easy Traditional Stuffing
Ingredients
- 1/2 loaf soft whole wheat bread
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 2-3 medium onions, diced
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 1 T
- 1 t, salt
- 3/4 T, pepper
- a few stalks fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2. Tear up the 1/2 loaf of bread into small pieces and toss into a large bowl.
3. Fill a frying with the 1/4 cup olive oil and warm over low. Add in diced celery and diced onions. Lightly fry over low until translucent and soft.
4. Add celery and onions to the bread and mix to combine.
5. Add in salt, pepper, and parsley. (Feel free to add any other spices you'd like)
6. Add in the vegetable broth and mix well to combine.
7. With the extra 1 T oil, grease a casserole dish. Add in the stuffing mixture and spread out evenly.
9. Remove foil lid and bake for approximately 10-20 minutes (or until as crispy as your prefer it). Enjoy!
Peace&Love&Thanks

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sweet & Sticky: Cinnamon Breakfast Cake

Everyone knows that no holiday season is complete without the smell of warm cinnamon and freshly baked pie wafting through the house. The good people at Earth Balance and Whole Foods seem to agree, and have create this Holiday Bake-Off Contest for all the bakers out there: $400 shopping spree at Whole Foods and a year supply of Earth Balance products.

Now what vegan baker wouldn't want a year supply of Earth Balance or their choice of expensive organic fruit and jars of nutritional yeast? I, for one, can hardly afford Whole Foods on a normal day; so I figured I could satisfy my desire for a delicious fall dessert and apply for the contest all in one go. Plus, it gives me something to bring to our Thanksgiving potluck this Thursday in seminar (our British TF seems amused about it).

So here's a simple recipe I whipped up for one of the entries: an amalgamation between a cinnamon roll, maple pancakes, and yellow cake... a breakfast cake, if you will. I figure its 9pm somewhere, so dessert in the morning can be acceptable.

Ingredients

Cake
1/2 C, Earth Balance Margarine, softened
1 1/2 C, light brown sugar
2, cornstarch eggs (1 egg=2 T cornstarch + 2 T water)
2 1/4 C, flour
1 t, salt
4 1/2 t, baking powder
1/2 t, baking soda
1/2 t, fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 C, unsweetened soymilk
1 t, vanilla extract

Topping:
3/4 C, Earth Balance margarine, softened
3/4 C, brown sugar
2 T, flour
2 T, cinnamon

Glaze:
1 C, powdered sugar
2 T, unsweetened soymilk
1 T, pure maple syrup
1/2 t, vanilla extract

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13 pan with a little bit of Earth Balance margarine.
2. In a small bowl, cream together the Earth Balance margarine and brown sugar for the topping. Add in the flour and cinnamon for the topping and mix well. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl (or electric mixer) mix the softened butter and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy.
4. Then add cornstarch eggs, flour, salt, and baking powder, stirring thoroughly between each new ingredient.
5. Add the liquid ingredients, stirring thoroughly between each new addition.
6. Pour immediately into the prepared pan and spread out evenly.
7. Pour the topping mixture evenly over the cake by the spoonful and swirl it throughout the cake with a knife.
8. Place the pan in the oven and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, or until you can insert a knife into the center and it comes out clean. (I found that even in my small oven, it took closer to the 35 minute mark, potentially longer in a larger oven)
9. As the cake is baking, mix together, in a small bowl, all the ingredients for the glaze until smooth. (If the mixture is too dry, add more soymilk. If the mixture is too liquidy, add more powdered sugar)
10. Once the cake is done baking, remove it from the oven. Immediately add the glaze on top of the warm cake. (This cake is best served after setting for 15 minutes) Enjoy!

Peace&Love

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Eat in Season: Ideas for Your Rejected Squash

With Thanksgiving fast approaching and the smell of fall in the air, I'm sure most of you will be seeing a lot of a seasonal favorite: winter squash. I realize for many young students out there the odd shapes and thick exterior of some of these babies may be off putting, but I'm here to correct any misinterpretations: winter squash can be both delicious to eat and easy to make.

In fact, there are numerous ways to cook squash, and each has its own advantages. Here are some easy to replicate ideas:

* Acorn Squash as a Soup Bowl: (see picture) Cut your squash in half, remove and discard seeds and inner core. Lightly spread olive oil & herb mixture of your choice (I used basil, oregano, pepper, and fresh garlic) over the cross-sections of the flesh. Place in the oven on a baking sheet (or foil, as I did... sadly, cannot afford to buying a baking sheet abroad) with the cut side facing up. Roast on high (400F) until soft and beginning to glaze, or as desired.

* Sliced, caramelized squash: Haven't tried it, but here's a great recipe to start with (just change out the butter for Earth Balance Margerine or Olive Oil for a healthier, vegan friendly dish).

* Roasted, herb-spiced squash: Cut off and discard thick skin. Chop into small cubes and marinate with olive oil and herbs of choice (such as, a nice Italian herb spice). Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400F until tender.

* Boiled, mashed squash: Cut off and discard thick skin. Slice in half, remove and discard inner seeds. Chop into small cubes and drop into boiling water. Lower to a simmer and allow to simmer for approximately 30-40 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash up squash. Add spices, oil, or soymilk as desired.

* Butternut squash pie: Cooked (roasted especially!) butternut squash can be a unique substitute for pumpkin pie

Not to mention, of course, that squash provides many nutrients, particularly vital carotene (which have shown to be preventative against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes) as well as fiber, and vitamins B1 and B6 to name a few. Plus, squash is a hearty main course, perfect for a vegan meal.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Study While Cooking: Poor Man's Risotto

My philosophy with cooking has always been, if life only gives you lemon peels, you should still find a way to make a damn good lemon-aid... or at the very least, a tasty dish, such as this risotto recipe below.

After indulging in a divine risotto bianco at Jamie Oliver's Fifteen, I knew I had to try to recreate it (or at the very least, create my own version). This recipe comes stems from this desire; its a recipe intended for all the poor, college foodies out there who are now banned to the exclusive use of hot plates and using a wine glass as a measuring cup--the latter part, however, may just be something I've been forced to do.

I realize that its not easy trying to pay for college, attend classes and meetings, and at the same time trying to eat well. And just because you're on a budget and with little time to spare doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality food and unique recipes. So here's a version of a classy dish that every college student can whip up in under an hour with little cost, little clean-up, but all of the indulgence--you can even continue studying as it cooks! No need for another dinner of microwaved-steamed veggies or pasta with jarred tomato sauce.

Poor Man's Risotto

Ingredients

* 2 tablespoons Earth Balance
* 1 teaspoon lemon zest
* 1 cup brown rice
* 1 vegetable bullion cube
* 1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Directions

1. Measure out one cup of warm water and dissolve bullion cube in it.
2. In a large pot, throw in the Earth Balance with lemon zest and let it fry over medium heat until margarine is completely dissolved.
3. Add rice to the pot and fry for approximately 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn.
4. Quickly add to the pot vegetable broth along with 2 cups water.
5. Add ground coriander and stir. Bring to a boil.
6. Once boiling, low to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 45-50 minutes. Enjoy!

Peace&Love

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Let's Get It Started: Black-Eyed Pea Fritter Style!

Continuing in the Southern tradition, I decided to satisfying a craving for something crunchy. These black-eyed pea fritters fit the bill perfect; last night was, indeed, a good, good night. Though this was my first time working with these particular legumes, I realize now I should have gotten more while they were on sale.

These fritters were perfect paired with some lightly steamed brussel sprouts with mustard sauce (recipe soon to come), with just the right amount of heart-healthy fat without overdoing it on the salt. The green chili pepper in this recipe really helps to bring a nice heat to the recipe.

Let me know if you guys have any other suggestions for Southern food to try and veganaify!


Peppery Black-Eyed Fritters

Ingredients

* 1 can black-eyed peas, drained
* 3 tablespoons cornmeal
* 1 small, white onion, chopped
* 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
* 1/2 green chili pepper, finely diced
* 2 teaspoons pepper
* 1 teaspoon veggie salt
* 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 2 cornstarch eggs (1 "egg"=1 T cornstarch mixed with 3 T water)
* 2 tablespoons water
* 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, place all black-eyed peas and mash well (either with a potato masher or a fork will work).
2. Add in onions, garlic, chili and cornmeal, mix well.
2. Mix remaining spices together in separate, small bowl. Add to black-eyed peas, and mix well.
3. Add in both cornstarch eggs and mix in.
5. Finally, add water and 1 T olive oil to mixture until just mixed. If the mixture is too dry, add in more water until it will hold; if it is too wet, add more cornmeal.
6. Heat half of the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil in a flat-bottomed pan over medium heat.
7. Form mixture into small flat disks. Once the oil is hot, place disks in the pan and allow to cook until browning, approximately 2 minutes. Flip disks and repeat on the other side, then remove.
8. As remaining olive oil as needed to fry disks. Once all disks are fried, lightly pat dry with a paper towel. Enjoy!


Peace&Love

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Get Yo Greens: Southern Comfort Food Take 1

As mentioned earlier, I was inspired recently by the weekly sales at the grocery store: cheap corn grits, canned black eyed peas, 2 for 1 collard greens & half off brussel sprouts! After returning from a long vacation, and without too much in the way of a real job while abroad, being thrifty in the grocery department is a must (though certainly not a reason for skimping on health).

So my first adventure with Veganafying Southern cooking came that night. Okay, I made creamy corn "kasha" that morning (think polenta but creamier & with soy milk), but I doubt that counts.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised with the results, especially since it came without anything if the way of a recipe to follow. Toni was similarly pleased (clearly showing his surprise at, for once, liking sweet potatoes).

My favorite part about these mashed sweet potatoes was that they took on a texture and taste more similar to regular russet mashed potatoes: not too sweet, nice and rich. The collard greens were really made by the carmelized onions (its hard to go wrong with caramelized onions).

Caramelized Collard Greens

Ingredients

1 large onion, cut into thin rings
1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoon olive oil
2 bundles (heads) collard greens, destemed and torn into large squares
2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1-2 T, red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 t, minced garlic paste
1 t, white balsamic vinegar
1/2 t, garlic salt
1/2 t, salt
2 t, pepper

Directions

1. In a large, flat bottomed pan (I prefer cast iron), heat the 1/4 cup olive oil over medium. Add in onion rings and bring heat to low. Allow to caramelize, approximately 20-30 minutes (turn onions periodically to keep from over browning).
2. Bring a medium-sized pot of water to boil. Add in collard green squares and simmer until tender, approximately 10 minutes. Drain.
3. Once onions have almost caramelized completely, add in garlic slices. Once garlic is aromatic, about 1-2 minutes, add the rest of the spices and balsamic vinegar; stir.
4. Now add in collard greens and drizzle remaining olive oil on top. Mix well; serve hot. Enjoy!

Mashed Not-So-Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cube
1 T, vegan Earth Balance margarine
2 T, soya cream
1 1/2 t, veggie salt
1 1/2 t, garlic salt
1 t, pepper
1/2 t, salt

Directions

1. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into equal, small cubes.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add cubed sweet potatoes. Bring to a simmer, and simmer until very tender, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Once tender, drain potatoes. Run cool water over them, drain again.
4. Place potatoes in a mixing bowl and smash to liking (a fork will work, but a potato masher maybe easier).
5. Add in the rest of ingredients and mix together well. Enjoy!

Peace&Love.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Best Part About Waking Up: Pancakes!

What's a girl to do for breakfast with a sparse cupboard, filled mostly with oats? I love oatmeal as much as the next person, but on a Sunday morning, with the sun shining, perhaps something more original is warrant.

Enter Golden Oat Pancakes. Adapted from a favorite foodie blog site, The Kitchn, these little cakes of love were perfect for a slow morning brunch.

In terms of veganafying the recipe, simply replace milk with soy milk (or whatever milk alternative is on hand; almond would also be a good choice) and eggs with a small, well smashed-up banana. I also added in 1 small cornstarch "egg" for binding properties (1/2 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoon water).

Edit: My amazing friend from home, Christine, took a stab at jazzing up these bad boys and oh does the outcome look delectable! Just another reason to try out these yummy pancakes :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Toni's Tikki Masala

Apologies for my inexplicable week-long absence. Toni & I were touring Europe, Germany & Amsterdam (pictures of food adventures to come!). It was an amazing time, and Amsterdam especially is such an amazing city, so vibrant, everyone is so nice, and just a quaint place (for not speaking the language basically at all, you can still feel safe & at home). If you have the chance to visit, do go, its well worth a visit!

Anyway, I've come back armed with photos, blog updates ready: many recipes to follow this week. A lot relate to how I've been toying around with different ethnic foods and, recently, tried my hand at perfecting some Southern comfort food, vegan style (the collard greens, grits, and brussel sprouts were all on sale this week).

For now though, here is the recipe I promise last week, a delicious Vegan Indian Chickpea Tikki Masala! Being that Indian spices are much cheaper here in London, Antonio and I have been powering through literally a curry or two a week: here's my favorite (the perfected spinach curry to come!)

Toni's Tikki Masala

Ingredients

2 onions, chopped
1 T ground fenugreek
1.2 T cumin seed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 thumb print sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
1/2-1 green chili pepper, chopped (desire of heat)
3 T of garam masala
1 can of diced tomatoes with juice
15-20 T of soya cream (desire of consistency)
1 can of chickpeas
1.4 cup water
Salt, to taste
Coriander/cilantro for garnish

Directions

1. In a large frying pan, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium. Add chopped onions to the frying pan and cook until soft and translucent.
2. Move onions to the side of the pan, add fenugreek and cumin to the opposing side, keeping them untouched until aroma appears.
3. Once onions, fenugreek and cumin are mixed together, throw in chili pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir together until garlic aroma appears.
4. Mix in garam masala to form a paste
5. Add tomatoes and mix.
6. Add cream and mix well. Bring to boil
7. Add water and chickpeas [or, whatever vegetable you want] and cover. Simmer for five minutes (this will allow your curry to thicken a bit, although it should turn out to be on the saucy side).
8. Add salt to taste.
9. Serve with rice and garnish with coriander. Enjoy!

* Note, in the picture there are potatoes included, but the second time around we found chickpeas alone to be a better choice. Unfortunately, it was too delicious for me to take a good picture before it was gobbled down by guests.

Peace&Love

Friday, November 5, 2010

Food of the Gods?: How to Have Your "Chocolate" and Eat it Too!

If you've ever been on a chocolate tour (...if you haven't, do it now!), you probably know that our sweet, sweet friend comes from humble beginnings in the form of the cacao bean.

As it turns out, we may actually be able to have our chocolate and eat it too. (Organic) raw cacao nibs are filled with tons of antioxidants and a variety of vital neurotransmitters. If you find yourself reaching for a chocolate bar when depressed, you may not be so far off. Cacao contains the neurotransmitter serotonin which is largely responsible for positive mood. Since it also contains MAOI inhibitors, this allows the serotonin to circulate in the brain longer, allowing for an extended elevated mood.

Cacao also contains anandamide, a chemical known for inducing natural states of bliss in humans. Even better (yes, there's more!), this little bean contains enzyme inhibitors that decrease our ability to breakdown natural anadamide, allowing for the extension of the natural bliss state.

Among some of the features contained in this super food are phenylethylamine (the neurotrasmitter released when we are in love), sulfur (detoxify your live), magnesium (great for heart and circulatory system) and zinc (helps your immune system).

So while I've already tried adding raw cacao nibs to cookies and having them just as a snack, I figure you can never have to much. This is where the beautiful drink picture above comes in. It's a cold drink of blended lucuma and cacao with soy milk from newly open vegan restaurant Vantra (Soho, London). At 3 pounds, this drink was a bit steep, but totally worth it! I've gotten it three times since (and once I return home to a working blender I intend to try it at home).

Do remember, however, that there is much to be considered around the ethics of chocolate. Please opt for fair trade, environmentally sustainable chocolate whenever you can. A few of my favorites are (Taza and Global Exchange). If you prefer to get the benefits in a sweeter form, make sure to get chocolate at least over 80%.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Day in the Life: Vegan MoFo

It's Vegan MoFo! What is Vegan MoFo (other than a funny name) you ask? Basically its a vegan blogging celebration where many bloggers attempt to write as much as they can about vegan food. Excited? You bet!

In honor Vegan MoFo, I'm completing this quick survey from Vegan MoFo-er, I Eat Trees. Pass it on and spread the veggie love!

What is one food you thought you’d miss when you went vegan, but don’t?

Eggs

What is a food or dish you wouldn’t touch as a child, but enjoy now?

Spicy foods or olives (now I'm in LOVE with both)

What vegan dish or food you feel like you “should” like, but don’t?

Mushrooms (most at least)...

What beverage do you consume the most of on any given day?

Water, but I tend to go for sparking water whenever possible (=love!)

What dish are you “famous” for making or bringing to gatherings?

Probably Mediterranean food of some sort (always popular for non-vegans), or various chocolate cakes

Do you have any self-imposed food rules (like no food touching on the plate or no nuts in sweets)?

No rules, just fun, everything's game

What’s one food or dish you tend to eat too much of when you have it in your home?

Avocados, they're always gone in a second, on toast or as guac

What ingredient or food do you prefer to make yourself despite it being widely available prepackaged?

Hummus, or really any Mediterranean food: baba ganoush, tabbouleh, cairo salad, falafel, even pita!

Also, all dips: salsa, guac, bean dip.... curry paste

What ingredient or food is worth spending the extra money to get “the good stuff”?

Balsamic vinegar (esp. white!), olive oil, truffle oil, dark chocolate, coconut oil, wine, coffee & espresso

Are you much of a snacker? What are your favorite snacks?

Yes, when I suffer through late nights of work & school unfortunately: kale chips, seaweed (Trader Joes!), strawberries, veggies & hummus, chips & salsa/guac... and Antonio's home-made french fries on rare occasion (shhh)

What are your favorite vegan pizza toppings?

Sundried tomatoes spread, grilled onions & red & green peppers, olives, spinach... or pesto

What is your favorite vegetable? Fruit?

Onion & Coconut

What is the best salad dressing?

This creamy (spicy) chipotle lime dressing Toni & I make from vegan mayo, amazing on homemade taco salad

What is your favorite thing to put on toasted bread?

Avocado (w/ salt, pepper, red pepper flakes) or homemade jam w/ a little Earth Balance ooor peanut butter & banana... endless possibilities :)

What kind of soup do you most often turn to on a chilly day or when you aren’t feeling your best?

Tomato soup or borscht

What is your favorite cupcake flavor? Frosting flavor?

Ferrero Rocher from Ms. Cupcake (like vegan nutella, but better!)

What is your favorite kind of cookie?

What is your most-loved “weeknight meal”?

Veggie sushi

What is one dish or food you enjoy, but can’t get anyone else in your household to eat?

Sweet Potatoes or Eggplant

How long, in total, do you spend in the kitchen on an average day?

Too long for the amount of time I spend on school work comparatively... its hard not to when your "kitchen" is part of your bedroom...

How many fingers am I holding up? (Just kidding… but the answer is 11. “My name is Inigo Montoya…”)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fried Friday: Onion Bhaji

I'll be the first to admit that even with a health conscious lifestyle, the hankering for something crispy and fried may appear. And so sometimes we indulge, and that's okay; but there's a right way to do it.

For one, if you're going for one sin, try to combat it with some good. Instead of trying to deep fry that vegan chocolate bar (.... I've seen it go down) go for fresh veggies! Opt for monounsaturated oils (I went traditional canola oil, but peanut or olive work, though this will alter the taste).

Since Antonio was making a curry (curry attempt #6... 7? Just wait until you see the final product, they're already delicious!), I figured I'd satisfy my craving by veganizing a favorite: Indian Onion Bhaji.

Ingredients

* 1 medium yellow onion
* 3 medium carrots
* 1/2 tablespoon graham masala
* 1 teaspoon crush cumin
* 1 teaspoon crushed fennel greek
* 1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
* 1/2 teaspoon raw pink Himalayan salt
* 1/4 cup flour (white, unfortunately, recommended for texture quality)
* 3 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with 3 tablespoon water
* 1 cup canola oil

Directions

1. Peel onion and chop off ends, and slice in rings from end to end. Place in large mixing bowl.
2. Peel carrots, grate roughly into long pieces. Place in large mixing bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together spices and flour. Mix flour & spices with onion and carrots in the large mixing bowl.
4. Put cornstarch mixture in with flour and veggies. Mix very well by hand. You want to make sure to spread the cornstarch mixture through-out so everything is covered and binds together; this may take a lot of "mushing" together by hand... but that's the fun of it!
5. Roll out mixture into roughly six veggie balls and flatten as much as possible.
6. Once mixed, in a large shallow frying pan (I opted for the cast iron) heat half the oil on medium heat.
7. Once the oil is hot (test by dropping a small bit of water in and see if it sizzles, but be careful!), you can start dropping in the veggie patties, 3 at a time, making sure they are just touching. Wait until they are golden brown and then flip; once golden on both sides remove. Repeat process with remaining oil and veggie patties. Enjoy!

Next time I'm going to try to find another alternative for the white flour; I'm thinking chickpea flour, suggestions welcome :) In the meantime, here's a preview of Toni's delicious curry recipe to come!

peace&love

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Campers: Exploring Camden Cupcake Camp

Word on the street is that gourmet donuts are the new cupcakes. Such theorizing, however, did not deter the hundreds of people all clamoring into Camden Market this weekend to participate in the London Cupcake Camp.

Strawberry Shortcake

Cupcake Camp--"a gathering of cupcake lover to raise money for a good cause"--has taken place is over 50 cities around the global including Paris, New York, and Sydney. All proceeds went to North London Hospice... and the best part? All cupcakes were only a pound! That's an amazing deal for the size and quality of some of these (Ms. Cupcake's usually go for 2.50 each).

Ms. Cupcake, of course, is of the most famous vegan cupcake artists in London, in charge of judging the vegan cupcake competition. Its a good thing we got there as it was beginning because just an hour and a half into it she had sold ALL of her cupcakes! I had luckily snagged two (one pumpkin and one ferrero rocher); my friend snagged... about seven.

After tasting the ferrero rocher, I understood why she grabbed so many. It was heavenly, absolutely the best cupcake, vegan or non, I've ever had. It taste likely someone smoothed a fluffier nutella all over the moist cake, sprinkled with perfectly toasted hazelnut bits.

Here's a sample of some of the other cupcakes:Cherry Bakewell

Chocolate Pumpkin

Raspberry Chocolate

Pumpkin Pie

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Summer on a Rainy Day: Vegitarian Bun


Though its raining outside, I continue to try to bring the sunshine to this kitchen, starting with a summer favorite: bun! Before I became a vegetarian, bun was a favorite meal. Luckily I found this vegan fish sauce and had to try it.

This noodle dish is super easy to make and filled with tons of nutritious veggies. Its great as a light snack or a full meal. I used white rice vermicelli because its what my boyfriend got, but I think I'm going to try it with brown rice vermicelli from now on.


Ingredients

* 1 package vermicelli noodle
* Vegan "fish" sauce (recipe from The Kitchn)
* 1/2 cucumber, julienned
* 2 medium carrots, julienned
* 1 bushel romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
* 1/2 cup bean sprouts
* 1/4 cup crushed peanuts
* 2 tablespoons cilantro (use mint and/or basil if you prefer)
* 6 oz firm tofu (optional)
* 1 tablespoon sesame oil, for frying tofu (optional)


Directions

1. Cook vermicelli noodles according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water. Drain again.
Carefully wrap tofu block in paper towels and press lightly to drain water. Cut tofu into roughly 1 inch cubes.
2. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Place tofu cubes in pan and fry lightly on each side until just beginning to brown, then remove from heat.
3. Once noodles have cooled, toss together all ingredients, including fried tofu. Enjoy!

Peace&Love

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crispy Kale Chips: Have You Been Getting Your Fiber?

... or vitamin A, or vitamin C, or calcium, or beta-carotene, or antioxidants?

If not, no need to worry, you can fulfill all your needs with one delicious green veggie: all hail Kale the king.

Personally I love kale in all its forms, raw, sauteed, or my personal favorite, baked! If you're thinking of reaching for a bag of potato chips, think again and go for the kale. The best part of kale chips is that even if you don't like kale normally (I know some people think its somewhat bitter raw), you can decorate it up however you like it. For example, my easy peasy recipe below for kale chips brings out a lovely sweetness in the green veg with all that crunch you crave in a late night snack.

Crispy Kale Chips

Ingredients

* 1/2 a bundle fresh kale (go organic if possible)
* 1/4 cup good white balsamic vinegar
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 teaspoon raw pink himalayan salt (or sea salt if you prefer)

Directions

1. Heat oven to 400 F. Wash kale leaves. Use a sharp knife and cut the kale leaves from the stems. Cut up the remaining leaves into about 2 x 2 inch squares. This is just an estimate of course--no need to actually cut out equal squares--so they'll cook at the same rate. Feel free to choose any size you like though.
2. In a large bowl, kale leaves, vinegar, oil, and salt. Toss VERY well; this may take some more hands on to make sure all of the leaves are coated (make sure to cover all the crevices).
3. Place kale leaves on baking sheeting and spread them out in a single layer. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until they are crispy but not yet browning. Once they begin to brown they start to taste more bitter so check them careful.
4. Enjoy your guilt free snack!

The secret, of course, to these crispy bites is the white balsamic vinegar: gives it a great flavor without the extreme sweetness of regular balsamic vinegar. I got this one from the London Wine & Cheese festival. The cheese was less than optimal but the organic, vegan wines, fresh bread, and olive oil selection was marvelous!

Peace&Love

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fluffy Pumpkin Cookies


So I figured before Halloween rolled around I had to update at least one pumpkin recipe. I have no costume yet to speak of (with events beginning tomorrow night!) but I've had plenty of pumpkin to occupy the mind.

These cookies are perfect if you're looking for something not too sweet, but light and flurry. These little pillowy gems have a spongy texture--a perfect comfort food with an eye towards health. My favorite part of these cookies is the substituted coconut oil! Raw Virgin Coconut Oil is my new favorite ingredient, even outside of the culinary sphere (best facial moisturizer yet and lovely for your hair). This recipe is adapted from here.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup vegan white sugar (or turbinado)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cornstarch "egg" (mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
Directions
  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, coconut oil, and cornstarch "egg". In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  2. Add in vanilla and chocolate chips.
  3. Shape and flatten dough (about a tablespoon's worth) on parchment paper lined cookie sheet with at least 2 inches between--these cookies spread some! Be warned, this mixture is a bit sticky and hard to handle, but a little water on your hands will help do the trick. If your mixture is not sticky enough, add a bit more flour.
  4. Bake cookies at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10-15 minutes or until lightly brown and firm. Enjoy!
Peace&Love