Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sweet Potato Soup from VEGAN FOR THE HOLIDAYS & Book Review

Fall is here and it is time to get baking!!  I love this time of year and especially getting together with family and friends to enjoy delicious food.  
Vegan for the Holidays covers all the details any holiday cook requires to create the perfect celebration.  From assembling a party menu to planning a multicourse feast, you'll get ideas for establishing modern, more healthful food traditions.  Zel Allen is the author of this beautiful book that celebrates feasts for Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. Some of Zel's recipes include: Cranberry-Pear Compote, Lemony Carrot Soup, Autumn Vegetable Roast, Red Cabbage and Apple Stir-Fry, Baked Maple Sweet Potatoes, Apple'n' Cream Pie, Pumpkin Apple Nog, Winter Almond Chowder, Santa's Swanky Salad, Raisin-Nut Cabbage Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce, and many many more delicious recipes!  All the tools you need to create some super comfort foods. Food, after all, is a powerful bonding agent that seals warm memories of cherished occasions. You will love this book and The Nut Gourmet book. You can find Zel in Vegetarians in Paradise or  Zel's Vegan NutGourmet. 

My family absolutely loves soups, so Zel's Sweet Potato Soup on page 121, caught my eye.  Sweet potatoes contain vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, fiber, B vitamins, potassium and even iron. In fact, Whole Foods considers sweet potatoes one of the healthiest vegetables we eat.  Healthy antioxidents abound in sweet potatoes. This sweet potato soup is delicately sweet, thick and creamy.  This soup will make a roomful of hungry partygoers happy.  Sprinkling pecans and raisins on top really adds the perfect taste to this yummy soup.  I hope you will give it a try.

Also check out Barn-Burner Chili from Zel's book at The Health Seeker's Kitchen It looks super Yummy and I will be making it soon.

Sweet Potato Soup
Printable Recipe                                                                                                                      
7 cups water
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup raisins, for garnish
1/4 cup chopped toasted pecans for garnish

1.  Combine 4 cups of the water, sweet potatoes, and onion in an 8 to 10-quart stockpot.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.  Decrease the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.

2.  Let cook briefly.  Use an immersion blender to process the soup in the stockpot until smooth and creamy.  Alternatively, put the soup in a food processor.  Process in batches until smooth and creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the work bowl.

3.  Return the soup to the stockpot.  Stir in the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pepper, and enough of the remaining 3 cups of water to reach desired consistency.  Adjust the seasonings.

4.  Warm the soup over medium-high heat, ladle into bowls and garnish each serving with raisins and pecans if desired.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Better than takeout: Quick Buffalo Chickenless Sandwich with the works!

This is a quick lunch or dinner to throw together. I used a store bought vegan "chickenless" from Trader Joes, which I am convinced is possibly Gardein vegan chicken but in different packaging. And way cheaper! Anyways, I love to make my foods from pure whole ingredients as much as possible, but everyone needs some quick freezer items on hand once in a while. These Trader Joe's Chickenless tenders are quick to bake up and you can do a lot with them. Gotta try them!

This sandwich is amazing!! Its basically a similar meal to the buffalo "Chick'n" wrap I have on here already, just a sandwich version. To me, it was way better than takeout, say, from Veggie Grill who actually has a awesome, super delicious buffalo sandwich on their new menu. As much as I absolutely love Veggie Grill, my version is baked, and has about 10x the raw veggies piled on top as theirs. and is served on a wholesome whole grain bread with minimal ingredients. The buffalo sauce and vegan ranch are so quick and I make just enough for one sandwich when I'm just cooking for myself for lunch.  My husband is going to love me tonight when I make one of these for him for dinner when he gets home. Soul satisfying, hearty food for sure! Just like takeout, only better!

Quick Buffalo Chickenless Sandwich
with the works
Serves one, so just double recipe as needed for each additional sandwich you need

Ingredients Needed:

Trader Joes Brand vegan Chickenless Tenders, Gardein, homemade or store bought seitan, or any other brand of vegan "chicken"

1 Tbsp. Veganaise (vegan mayo)
pinch of garlic powder
pinch of onion powder
about 1/2 Tbsp. of unsweetened  almond milk or other milk of choice (hemp, rice, soy, etc.)

2 tsp. Earth Balance vegan butter
2 tsp. of your favorite hot sauce

2 slices Whole grain bread, toasted  (look for a brand with pure, minimal ingredients)
1/4-1/2 sliced avocado sprinkle of salt and pepper
Few nice pieces of Lettuce
1/2 Shredded/grated carrot

To Make:

Bake the Chickenless tenders according to package directions.

Make your ranch. Combine in a small bowl, 1 Tbsp. of Veganaise, and a pinch of garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Now very slightly thin out (but still keep it thick enough to be spreadable on a sandwich) with a little unsweetened almond milk or other milk of choice. Set aside.

Make the Buffalo sauce. Melt 2 tsp. earth balance and place in a small bowl. Add the same amount of hot sauce,mix well and set aside until "chickenless" is done baking.

Prepare all other ingredients for toppings and set aside.

Once the "chickenless" has finished baking, toss in the buffalo sauce.

Assemble the sandwich. Toast the bread, and spread your ranch on both sides. Add the buffalo chickenless, avocado, grated carrots, and lettuce.

Now eat up and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sexy Vegan...Extraordinary food from an ordinary dude!

Awesome, awesome, awesome book!
Definitely on my list of "must buys" and highly recommended. And I am picky,

I am so glad that the publisher for this book sent me a review copy Because the recipes kick a meat eaters burgers tush. The book bring lots of humor mixed with tons and tons of flavor.  I was laughing pretty hard at some of the titles of his recipes...hilarious!

What I can say for sure is that if you just bought this book for the tempeh bacon recipe alone, it would be worth it. After you make this recipe once, you will never want to buy store tempeh bacon again. Its so so good! And so much cheaper to make it yourself! You get 5 times as much bacon for the price of one store bought package, and it freezes awesome for quick meals later on. The marinade is super healthy, and just stuff you will have on hand! I am kind of obsessed with it actually. Behold, the amazing-ness...

You make the marinade, place it in a large glass Pyrex type dish to sit (I just let mine sit in the fridge overnight). It takes just minutes to throw this together...

And then the next day it is ready to go. You can cook them in a skillet, or bake in the oven. We turned outs in to a simple but favorite BLT style sandwich. Delicious!

 I also tested his recipe called "The Portly Fellow". Again, amazing! I loved it so much I got permission to give you all the recipe for this one! I loved his method for cooking the portabellos! You thinly slice them across the cap of the mushroom after they cook and you get these long, thin, "deli meat" type slices that you can pile on your sandwich, and it makes it so much easier to eat that way.

He has some great YouTube videos and you can watch him slice the mushrooms in action HERE!
It also has caramelized red onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and a very yummy sun dried tomato and white bean spread! I had this for two days in a row...so good! There are a ton of other recipes I'm dying to try now from the book! If you want comfort food like burgers, buffalo style wings, hearty breakfast sandwiches, meatballs, etc. done not only vegan, but healthy, this is your book!

To purchase your own copy, CLICK HERE

Oh, and get the recipe for this amazing sandwich below!  Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

If this sandwich were a person, he would be a round, top hat–wearing gentleman in an old-timey suit with a pocket watch, monocle, and cane. And despite his size, he would eat sandwiches in a dainty fashion. That makes me smile.
Makes 2 sandwiches

2 portobello mushrooms, stemmed and wiped clean
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
2 cup sliced red onion
2 ciabatta rolls, halved and toasted
2 cup Sun-Dried Tomato and White Bean Spread (see recipe
1 roasted red bell pepper, halved 
1 small handful baby arugula
1 medium tomato, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat the mushrooms with 2 teaspoons of the oil, the vinegar, and a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Place the mushrooms in the smallest roasting vessel that will hold them. The smaller the vessel, the more of the delicious mushroom juice that will collect during cooking, so make sure the vessel has sides. You can make one out of foil if need be. On a baking sheet, toss the onion slices with the remaining 2 teaspoon of oil, a pinch of salt, and a pinch of pepper, and spread them out. Roast both the shrooms and the onion for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft. Remove the mushrooms and onion from the oven, and let cool, making sure to reserve any mushroom juices that have accumulated. Cut the shrooms thinly on the diagonal, so that you create wide, flat slices.
Now you’re ready to assemble! Remember those shroom juices you were trying to preserve? Drizzle them on the bottom half of each of the ciabatta rolls (if there’s not enough, don’t get your butt-
hole all a-pucker — just drizzle some additional oil and vinegar on the ciabatta to compensate), and smear the top halves with the bean spread.
Assemble each of the sandwiches from the bottom up in the following order: bottom ciabatta half, sliced shrooms, roasted pepper, roasted onion, arugula, tomato, and bean-smeared ciabatta half.

Sun-Dried Tomato and
White Bean Spread
This is also a great dip for chips or veggies. Store extra in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.
Makes about 2 cups
 2 cups drained freshly cooked cannellini beans or one
15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 medium basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper
 In a food processor or blender, puree the beans, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, oil, water, and garlic until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Excerpted with permission from The Sexy Vegan Cookbook: Extraordinary Food from an Ordinary Dude ©2012 by Brian Patton.  Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com

Friday, March 9, 2012

Back to Basics: Tempeh Preparation

Tempeh. Oh how I love you.
You make my life so yummy and versatile and you give me lots and lots of nutrition. Your very high in protein, calcium, iron, dietary fiber  and lots of vitamins, and bring a mild nutty flavor to my dishes. Even though here in the West we think you are a fairly new discovery, Asia has been enjoying your deliciousness for hundreds of years.
Now, if your love of tempeh is not quite as fond as mine, read on, my friends, read on.

OK, so maybe your not a tempeh fan (just yet!), or maybe you have never even heard of it. Or maybe you have heard of it, but don't have the slightest clue what to do with it. Well friends, have no fear, Mo the Veggie girl is here to show you some basic tempeh preparation that will give you a flavor infused delicious end product, that you can transform into millions of creations to come. And it is shockingly easy to prepare. And I mean shockingly. Do not be afraid of the tempeh. It will only give you yummy food bliss when treated with a little TLC. 

So what exactly is tempeh made of anyway: Tempeh is basically made from soybeans that have been naturally cultured and fermented, and then made into a little block. It is different than tofu in many ways. For starters, the nutrition is higher all around and digestion easier, due to the fermentation process. It is made from the whole soybean and not "processed" into something different. Just fermented and pressed. it is kind of earthy and nutty tasting.

And where can I buy Tempeh? Sold at Whole Foods Markets as well as most other health food stores. And I have also seen it sold at Ralph's Supermarket, Sprouts, and basically anywhere where you can find health foods and vegan food options like tofu. Make sure to buy Organic, non GMO tempeh. Your body will thank you!

And now we move on to the oh so easy preparation of tempeh that will turn this humble food into something amazing! This was a method I learned from Chef Tanya Petrovna, who some of you may know as the creative mind and genius behind the Native Foods Cafe Restaurants. There are a few ways to prep tempeh, but this one is the best. Hands down. So good.

Just a little side note, steaming tempeh is very important. Here in this preparation, I am simmering it in a delicious marinade which also works great. But if nothing else, make sure that you place the tempeh in a pot with some water, or in a steaming basket, and steam it for about 20 to 30 minutes before using it . This will remove the slight bitterness from the tempeh. Or follow my favorite method below.

Glazed Tempeh:
(method from Chef Tanya Petrovna of Native Foods Cafe)

Step 1: Make the marinade
2/3 cup of water
1/3 cup soy sauce
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
a nice inch or so of grated fresh ginger root

Mix together in a bowl and set aside.

Step 2: Cut tempeh and brown in a pan
Using 1 to 2 blocks of tempeh, cut the tempeh in half so you have two rectangles. Then cut an "x" on top of each rectangle to create 8 smaller triangles per block of tempeh. Heat a large skillet to medium high. Add just enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Saute the tempeh until browned on both sides.

Step 3: Simmer the tempeh in the glaze
Once the tempeh has been browned on both sides, pour in the marinade/glaze you made and let boil for 3-4 minutes. Then turn the heat to low, and simmer uncovered for about 25 minutes. Most of the glaze should be gone at this point, soaked into the tempeh and reduced to almost nothing.

Step 4: Let cool, and then have some fun
Remove the tempeh from the pan and let cool for about 10 minutes. At this point, you can cut it up into small pieces, or crumble it up into a bowl, and add some veganaise and herbs for wraps and many other things! Here's some delicious recipe to start you on your tempeh adventures!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chloes Kitchen

I was given the pleasure of reviewing a copy of Chloe Coscarellis new cookbook that just hit bookstores this week. If you don't know who this adorable vegan chef is yet, then where have you been?!!! No no, I'm kidding.  But just to updarte you a little, she was the first vegan baker to bring home the win on Food Networks Cupcake Wars, which was very exciting to all vegans and vegan bakers! We all already knew how delicious vegan baked goods are, but she really brought that to the masses and I'm sure intrigued many to want to give vegan goodies a try! Way to go Chloe! She has also had several other appearances and publications in various news articles and magazines bringing wonderful vegan food to mainstream media. And shes just plain adorable to go with it. Many excited fans of hers have been eagerly awaiting her new cookbook.

I don't know about you guys, but I love  a cookbook full of beautiful color photographs. And this one definitely comes with some mouth watering pics to get you motivated to get in the kitchen! I would say that her food in her book has a level of familiarity and "comfort" to it, as well as being easy to prepare.

The first dish I made from the book was this Pineapple not-so-fried rice. It was an absolute delicious pairing of sweet and savory. I swapped using extra firm tofu for some homemade seitan that I already had n my fridge and that worked wonderfully in the recipe as well! 

Its brown rice, pineapple chunks, cashews, pease, marinated tofu or seitan in soy sacue, and some curry and coriander spicing. So so yummy!

I also tried the Double doubel drive-thru Bruger. I think the photo speaks for itself. Don't tell me this doesn't make you hungry!

The recipe suggests using tempeh or brown rice as a base, and I went with tempeh, which I think helped it really hold together great and gave it very good texture. The burger is also filled with toasted walnuts, lentils, and some onions and garlic. Topped with her special sauce and all the fixins of a gereat burger, both my husband and kids loved this one and leftovers keep beautifully in the fridge for quick burger making the next day!

A few other dishes I made (but didn't get a chance to photograph) were the Fettuccine Alfredo. Again, delicious!  I stuck with the recipe but added in some sauteed mushrooms and also some sauteed kale.

And, last but not least, I made the salt and vingar baked fries. This was possibly my favorite thing I made. I totally had a "why didn't I think of this" moment while we were eating them, and unfortunaly they were gobbled up so fast I did not get a chance to photograph these either. They are the baked fry version of salt and vinegar chips, which I love!  I will be making these again, and again, and again!

There are several other things I am dying to make, specifically in the dessert section of the book. Think baked donuts and her award winning cupcakes.

If you are looking for a new cookbook full of great recipes and beautiful photographs, I highly recommend this one!

To get your copy CLICK HERE!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Some things you need to check out!

Happy Friday!
 Just dropping in for a quick post to link you to a few things to check out that I love! Click on the bold highlights for the links!

Organic by Nature Just Barley: One of my top 5 must have items. This is something I always keep in my home! This barley grass powder gives a serious nutritional punch and I have a go to daily smoothie (more of a refreshing drink) that takes just seconds to make when I'm on the go, and gives me my green power when I am running low on things around my house. Mix 1 frozen banana, 1 cup of water, 1 tsp. barley green powder, and a small handful of fresh parsley. Blend and go. Those are ingredients I always have around. So there are no excuses in my house, you gotta drink those greens!  My Mom and I call this the green smoothie made easy!

Raw Melissa -  Um, first, this girl is completely adorable. She is like cuteness overdose. Her site is great, and she has some fun recipes and a cookbook. Also has some cool videos. She lives near the Salt Lake City, Utah area and if you are anywhere near this area you have got to check out her raw desserts that you can buy at some of the local health food stores. They are amazing! I have some family that lives in that area and have had the pleasure of tasting some of her goodies! If you are not close (I live in Southern California, not close at all to her yummy treats) you can order things online.

Plant Hungry: Written by my friend Shelly. She adds a great mixture of good information, as well as yummy recipes! And shes witty and funny, so its a good read! She keeps me laughing. Go check it out!

The Fitness Dish: 111 Days till summer challenge:  I love me some Fitness Dish!  Laury pretty much makes everyone happy with her fun uplifiting posts daily!  (yes, daily, supermom??) Right now she is doing a challenge with her readers that is a totally positive approach to making small healthy changes and sticking to them. You can do with the challenge whatever YOU want to do, set your own goals, and then she and the rest of her readers participating will help keep everyone motivated to stick with their goals they have set. One thing I love about this challenge is that you can make it your own. Whether you healhty goals are to get outside and get moving in some way for 20 minutes,  cut back on refined sugar, cook more meals at home, drink less soda...you get it. Just whatever works for you! Loving the positivity coming from this challenge. Go head on over there nad join in the fun!

The Health Seekers Kitchen: Doesn't everyone love their Mother's cooking? Well, I am lucky enought that my Mom cooks amazing food, and the kind of food I like, healthy, plant based, and absolutely delicious!  I honestly love everything she makes, and I wish I wasn't states away from her so that I could go annoy her regularly for some of her cooking! Also, she teaches cooking classes in the Salt Lake City, Utah area, so if you are close, you have got to check out her classes! You will leave with fun new recipes and some new kitchen skills! The info for her upcoming classes is on her blog...

The Blissful Chef: East Coast Book Tour! My friend Christy Morgan, or as some of you may know her, The Blissful Chef, is an awesome macrobiotic based chef. That cooks great food! For all of you East Coasters, she has a book tour going from March 1st through March 29th. Check out her blog for the exact dates and times, and check out her cookbook, Blissful Bites!

Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lemony Lentil Spinach Salad

Hi friends! Long time no see...yes I know! I have been MIA for a little while.  Let me first just say thank you so much to everyone who has sent me such sweet emails asking how I was doing and checking in on me! Those emails really kept me going! So thank you thank you thank you all!
Basically, to make a long complicated story short, I have been working on this ...

 which led to severe morning sickness for roughly 23 weeks, and left me in complete survival mode, eating the blandest things I could, and cooking anything delicious was just not going to happen. I could not even handle the smell of food. Thankfully, I am feeling so much better now, and the kitchen and I have rekindled our romance, :D  Again, thank you to my sweet readers who sent me those uplifting emails!  This will be the hubby and I's 4th little bambino (yes, its a boy!). I will keep you all updated on the baby details for those that care! 

OK, now back to the food! The oh so amazing, makes you feel like a superhuman kind of meal I have for you today! Its so full of all kinds of nutrition! The veggies are left raw, and paired with warm protein packed lentils, satisfying brown rice, and a fresh lemony almond dressing. This is some seriously good stuff, and you can trust me on that, because I am actually chowing down on the plate I photographed above for lunch. And it is tasting so delish!  I hope you all enjoy!

Lemony Lentil Spinach Salad
Will serve about 6, or make for some killer good leftovers!

All ingredients needed for the recipe:
1 cup of dried lentils (measured uncooked)
1 cup short grain brown rice (measured uncooked)
2 large yellow onions
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
2 large tomatoes
2 red bell peppers
1 English cucumber
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 pear, or 1 crisp apple
2 lemons
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. raw unsalted almond butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
pinch of red pepper flakes
about 1/4 cup slivered almonds
zest of 1 lemon

Step 1: Cook the lentils. Rinse lentils, place in a pot and cover with just enough water to cover the lentils (the ratio is about 2 parts water to 1 part lentils. DO NOT SALT.  Bring the lentils up to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer anywhere from 20 min. up to 45 minutes. Lentils can vary in cooking time. Depending on how soft you like them just taste along the way and it is really up to you how soft you want them to be. I like mine softer so I cook them close to 35 minutes. Once they are finished cooking, drain any extra water and season them with a little salt and pepper.

Step 2: Cook the rice. Rinse your brown rice, and cook either in a rice cooker or a pot according to directions on package. Let the rice cook at the same time the lentils are cooking.

Step 3: Caramelized onions: slice 2 large yellow onions. Place in a pan with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on high for 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and let them slow cook for another 40-45 minutes, until very sweet tasting and soft. I just made these right after I put the lentils and rice on to cook and let them cook for the same amount of time.

Step 4: Prepare the raw veggies with herbs: dice up your 2 tomatoes, 2 bell peppers, 1 English cucumber (some of the seeds scraped out), 1 pear or crisp apple, and 1/2 cup Italian parsley. Don't be afraid to throw the pear/apple in there! It adds just a slight touch of sweet to the whole dish that makes it so delicious! Mix the veggies and set aside.

Step 5: Lemony almond dressing: In a bowl, whisk together the juice of 1 1/2 lemons (save the lemons for the zest at the end of the recipe, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 c. olive oil, 2 Tbsp. raw unsalted almond butter, 1/4 tsp sea salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. You want this dressing to almost be to vinegary and tart on its own. because it will be much more mild when added to the rice and lentils.

Step 6: Assemble the salad:  layer on a plate fresh baby spinach, a small dollop of rice and lentils, then a little drizzle of the dressing (a few tsp.). Next pile on the raw veggies, slivered almonds and some lemon zest on the top. Add another drizzle of dressing, mix up and enjoy!