Monthly Archives

October 2011

bowls, mains, recipes

Jerusalem Bowl

The other day when I was rambling about bowl meals, I started craving them a ton, so I’ve been having pretty much daily bowl parties.  Even yesterday when I was at work all day, I got a rice bowl from 13th Ave. Coffee House, which is the epitome of awesome vegan food in my city.

One bowl that 13th Ave. has on the menu is called the “Jerusalem Bowl”, which is a bowl with brown rice, falafel, hummus, veggies and a tahini sauce.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?  It is.  It’s probably one of my favorite bowls on their menu, though I would never be able to choose.

When you’re throwing together a fast lunch, though, falafels are a little time-consuming to make, and I don’t always have hummus kicking around the house.  So I simplified and deconstructed the Jerusalem Bowl a little bit so that it can be thrown together in about 15 minutes (assuming you have cooked brown rice and chickpeas).  Even if you don’t, cooking beans and rice is very easy and requires minimal hands-on time, so I’d still consider this a fast meal.

Jerusalem Bowl
Serves 4

For the tahini sauce:

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon agave
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, or more to taste

For the bowl:

4 cups cooked brown rice
1 1/3 cup cooked chickpeas (approximately 1 can)
1 heaping cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped tomato
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup clover or alfalfa sprouts
Hot sauce for serving, optional

Directions:

1.  Make the tahini sauce:  Combine all sauce ingredients in a small blender and blend until smooth.  Alternately, you can whisk the sauce vigorously with a fork.

2.  To assemble the bowl:  For each serving, scoop 1 cup of brown rice into a bowl, followed by 1/3 cup chickpeas and 3 tablespoons of the tahini sauce.  Top the bowl off with 1/4 cup each of cucumber, tomato, carrot and sprouts, sprinkle on some hot sauce if you want, and enjoy!

Each serving of this Jerusalem Bowl is approximately 475 calories, which is hearty and meal-sized, and will keep me satiated throughout the day.  Logan naturally tends to eat slightly larger portions than I do since his caloric needs are a little higher, seeing as he’s larger than me and has a man appetite.  But for an average person with a daily caloric requirement of around 2,000 calories like myself, this is the perfect-sized meal.

Holy crap, you guys – only one more day of MoFo!  It always flies by in a crazy whirlwind of fun and excitement, though I’m definitely looking forward to taking a small blogging break when it’s all over and done with.  I was thinking about taking 2 weeks off, but I doubt I’ll be able to stay away that long without wanting to talk about food!

And congrats to all of you who have posted every day (or almost!) during this month – it’s definitely no easy feat to accomplish that.  I hope you’re planning on giving yourself some sort of grand reward for the effort. 🙂

appetizers, recipes, salad

How To Roll Summer Rolls: A Pictoral Guide


One very, very important skill I learned at Living Light was how to roll summer rolls, or fresh rolls, or Vietnamese rolls, or whatever you enjoy calling them.  Pre-culinary school, I just didn’t know how to get them looking pretty and enticing – instead, they tended to look rather mangled.  But the technique is actually very easy and I want to share some diagrams I made so that you can roll ’em up in style, too!

First things first: Start with two rice paper wraps instead of just one.  This makes your roll far easier to … roll. Soak the rice paper sheets in warm water for about 30 seconds, until they start to soften but aren’t goopy and shapeless.  They should still be a little firm, which makes them easier to roll and hold their shape better when you’re cutting them.

Not only is it a-okay to have veggies sticking out the sides, it’s desirable.  Trust me, it’ll look awesome.  I like laying a couple of romaine leaves on the first third of the rice paper wraps, leaving a little room on the edge closest to you so you can roll it up easier.  Then you can basically pile up whatever you want on top – cucumber, kale, carrots, red bell pepper and avocado all make smashing choices.  Make sure your veggies are thinly julienned for the ultimate roll experience.

Now you just roll it up tightly, kind of like a burrito but without tucking in the sides, which actually makes rolling these much easier.  Squeeze it tight while you roll – the tighter and more compact it is, the better the final product will hold together when you serve it.
Each roll you make will yield 4 pieces.  Follow the above diagram for slicing instructions – if you follow those instructions, you’ll end up with beautiful rolls that look something like this:

What you should be left with are spring roll slices that don’t fall apart and are aesthetically pleasing.  In my opinion, presentation usually makes a huge difference on how much we desire to eat something, and these summer rolls, served with a thick peanut sauce, are so cute and yummy that you totally don’t think about how you’re basically just eating a big salad.  Love ’em.

I’ll catch up with you folks tomorrow, and I’m quite excited that I’ll actually have a bit of time to play in the kitchen for the first time in several days.  Keepin’ my fingers crossed that experimentation goes well and delicious results occur.  Toodles!
appetizers, recipes

Halloween Bat Bites

During the holidays, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, or whatever people celebrate these days, I get a strong impulse to flip through food magazines – you know, the kind that stare at you when you’re standing in line with groceries.  The ones with the catchy titles like “23 best cookie recipes ever” or whatever.

I don’t have to be standing in line for this food-ogling impulse to strike – I don’t even need to be in the presence of a magazine.  Sometimes, when I’m working on the computer and my mind starts to wander, the Interwebz becomes my magazine.  Rachael Ray, Martha Stewart, Epicurious, Cooks Illustrated, Canadian Living…those websites are my vices and I love them so much.  Because, pretty pictures!  And food!  
One day while I was pondering what would make for appropriate Halloween snacking, I stumbled upon possibly the cutest thing ever – these Bat Bites from myrecipes.  So.  Cute.  I mean, pink and frilly and unicorns and kittens are totally cute too, but these are like the badass kind of cute.  
My mission was to veganize the cheese-based bats, which was fairly simple with my super-easy almond cheese in hand.  I also made a smaller batch than the original recipe since it’s just Logan and I – eight bats are more than enough for the two of us.

I’m imagining these as part of a four-course Halloween dinner as the cutest appetizer ever, maybe with some olive spiders hanging out beside them with eight little rosemary twigs sticking out of them like legs.  Yeah?  Yeah.  (Did anyone else notice how many numbers I used in the last few sentences?  Whew, I’m getting all mathy.)

Halloween Bat Bites
Adapted from Myrecipes.com
Makes about 8 bats

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched almonds

1/3 cup water or more, for blending
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon light agave
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
8 small black olives, sliced
16 red peppercorns
16 nicely shaped blue corn chips


Directions:

1. Combine the almonds and water in a blender and blend until smooth.  Line a few stacked berry containers with a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and pour in the almond mixture.  Cover the mixture with extra cloth, place something heavy on top (I used an unopened pasta jar), and put a plate underneath the berry containers to catch extra liquid.  Allow it to drain for at least 3 hours.  Remove the almond cheese from the nut milk bag and place in a small bowl. For more pictures and details of this process, visit my herbed almond cheese recipe.

2. In a small blender or food processor, process the lemon juice, parsley, olive oil, agave, garlic and salt until combined – some texture is okay.  Stir into the almond cheese until it’s combined.  Chill this in the fridge for about an hour so it firms up a little bit, making it easier to roll into balls.

3. To assemble the bats: Spread out the poppyseeds and ground pepper on a small plate in a thin layer. Take about 1 tablespoon of the almond cheese and form it into a ball, and then roll the ball into the poppyseed/pepper mixture until the surface is covered.  Place the ball on a serving plate and add two olive slices for eyes, and then lay 2 red peppercorns in the middle of the olives for eyeballs.  Insert two corn chips into the bat ball as the wings.  Repeat until you’re out of the cheese mixture, and you have an adorable little bat army in your kitchen.

The one in the back looks like he’s freaking out a little.  Maybe it’s because he’s a bat.


Another awesome thing about these little Halloween bat bites is that they actually make a fairly practical appetizer, since everything on them can be eaten and they taste great – rich and tangy with a pleasant peppery kick.  The “wings” make the perfect vehicle for scooping up that cheesy bat goodness, and you can serve some extra chips on the side if you prefer more chip than spread like I do.

These would also be fairly simple to rawify, since they’re essentially raw anyway with the exception of the corn chips.  But I’ve eaten and made raw crackers and chips, so I know this appetizer isn’t out of a rawbie’s reach!

Do you guys have a Halloween menu planned at all?  I’d love to know what you’ll be eating, treats and all!

bowls, Menus, recipes

Bowls, Bowls, Bowls!

Rice bowls are my mainstay meal when I have no idea what to cook, and when I desire something fresh and healthy that doesn’t take a long time to make.  I can spend 20 minutes in the kitchen and prepare enough food to last the day, while still being sure that it’s nourishing, filling, and veggie-full.
A bowl of Bibimbap, my favorite rice bowl of all time.  This Korean fave has a really thick and spicy sauce and is topped with an assortment of prepared veggies and tofu.

Another great thing about rice bowls (or bowls with any grain base) is that they fit in very well with standardized food guides, which typically advocate a lot of vegetables and grains, and moderate to conservative portions of protein and fat.

This Tabouleh-Inspired Salad Bowl is a balanced meal, chock-full of nutritious goodies like kidney beans, bulgur wheat, avocado, and fresh herbs and vegetables.



For a big, filling bowl that will keep me going for hours, I typically start with a base of around a cup of rice, sometimes more depending on my appetite.  I’ll use an approximately equal amount of fresh vegetables which are almost always prepared raw, partly for convenience but also for a great crunchy texture that happily contrasts the soft chewy rice.  And, you know, raw veggies are pretty much the healthiest thing you can and should consume.

Though I don’t find adding a “protein” to these bowls necessary from a nutritional standpoint since there’s plenty of protein to be found in the rice, sauce and veggies, I do like adding it for satiety’s sake.  Foods like chickpeas or tempeh contain plenty of calories, so including them will give you a bowl that’s more likely to keep you full for longer – and I don’t know about you guys, but I strongly dislike getting hungry at 3pm, because then I snack incessantly, and snacks are seldom as nutritious as the real meal.  
Middle Eastern Bowl with creamy tahini sauce, chickpeas, kale, olives, avocado and fresh veggies.

The final step to an awesome bowl is to dress it in a great-tasting sauce.  My favorite sauces are creamy ones like tahini for an Eastern flair or peanut for an Asian-esque bowl.  Oil-based sauces and vinaigrettes are solid choices for lighter bowls, like a simple teriyaki or ginger lime dressing.  Another favorite is to dress the bowl with salsa, hot sauce and guacamole, as I never tire of bold Mexican flavors.  Creamy and comforting dressings like cashew-based alfredo or ranch are always welcome, especially with some barbeque tofu.  Mmmm…

And of course, you’re never limited to just rice!  All kinds of bases are possible, and they don’t just have to be grains, either – starchy vegetables like potatoes and winter squashes can all form the foundation of a hearty meal, and let’s not forget pasta and noodles!  If you want to omit starch and grains entirely, there isn’t anything wrong with a bowl of zucchini noodles, or cauliflower “rice”, or even just a pile of leafy greens.  

A Mexican-style potato bowl, topped with salsa, guacamole, romaine and bacon bits.

Wholesome buckwheat soba noodles form the base of this fresh stir-fry, except in this case nothing has been fried.  Sunflower sprouts are a simple topping that amplifies the gorgeousness of this meal.

There’s no saying you’re limited to using an actual bowl, either – as the above and below meals attest, all of the components of a bowl can be spread out on a plate for a beautiful appearance.

A Vietnamese-style rice bowl, with simple ingredients spread out in a unique manner for some healthy eye candy.  Little changes in a meals’ aesthetics makes a huge difference in how much you desire to eat it.

They say that we eat with our eyes, and I believe it to the core.  Fresh and colorful vegetables are the most visually appealing foods on the planet, and making a rice bowl loaded with them is a treat for your senses and taste buds.  I can’t think of a single time I’ve sat down to one of these rice bowls and said “meh”.  They just look too darn beautiful, and their substance is just as fantastic as their surface appeal.

Rice bowls, man.  Do it up!

Brunch, recipes

Vegan Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Orange Topping

Sometimes I just want pancakes for breakfast.  What I don’t want is to feel sleepy and full of junk food, especially on a Monday morning.  And thus, a compromise is born – pancakes made from whole grains and a fresh fruit topping that involves a minimal amount of added sweetener, so my brain doesn’t fall into a sugar fog.

These vegan cornmeal pancakes have a great crumb and look beautiful despite being fairly good for you.  The fresh fruit topping adds to their charming wholesomeness, and maple syrup isn’t even necessary for these pancakes since frozen blueberries which, when thawed, create a lot of juice which can double as a syrup.

The first time I made these, I used whole grain rye flour and they tasted just as good, so feel free to swap a different flour for the whole wheat – I know spelt would be a delicious choice as well.

These pancakes serve one big appetite, with the entire meal clocking in just over 500 calories.  Feel free to omit the orange and use more blueberries if you want to further cut back on the sugar in this breakfast. Or, if you aren’t one to eat a huge breakfast, share with someone else or just save the extras for the next morning!

Vegan Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Orange Topping
Serves 1 hearty appetite; 5-6 small pancakes

Ingredients:

1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon agave or sugar
1 teaspoon oil
Oil, for pan-frying

Toppings:

1/2 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
1 orange, peeled and segmented (optional)
Maple syrup, to taste (optional)

Directions:

1.  Heat a large non-stick pan on medium-low heat and wipe a little oil on the surface.  In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal, whole wheat flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the non-dairy milk, agave and oil and stir briefly until the mixture is fairly smooth.  Pour the pancake batter into the pan, making small circles – I can fit 4 in my large pan.  Cook until the edges of the pancakes begin to look firm, bubbles form on the top of the batter and the bottom is a golden hue, 3-5 minutes.  Flip and continue cooking until both sides are golden. Repeat as necessary until all of the batter has been used up.

2.  Top the pancakes with fresh blueberries, optional orange segments and a little drizzle of maple syrup if you like.  Enjoy!

This breakfast is fairly speedy to whip together – it only took me 15 minutes start to finish.  It’s also very filling, great for when you need to stay full for a long time, or you just have a ravenous appetite.  Which, most mornings, I do.

With 15 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein, a wealth of b-vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium, I figure there are far worse things to be eating than these vegan cornmeal pancakes for breakfast. And since my belly is full, I won’t find myself wandering aimlessly at 11am, searching for a snack that is typically less than ideal.

Well, it may only be four degrees right now, but it’s sunny and I intend to fully enjoy these last few fall days before the snow barges in and makes everything cold for six months.  Peace in and out!

appetizers, recipes

Quick Guacamole

Today’s gonna be a quickie post since I only have about as long as it takes me to sip a rooibos tea.  But the recipe I’m sharing is called Quick Guacamole, so that should work out splendidly.

Have you made guacamole before?  Yep, me too, about a gazillion times, with most of those times being done completely free-form, with nary a measuring spoon in sight.  And there are a ton of deluxe, fancy guacamole recipes out there, like guacamole with edamame or peas or tomatillos or whatevs, and sometimes I like to get fancy, but usually I just stick with the quickest route that yields the most awesomeness and the least amount of dirty dishes.

So without further ado, here’s my quick guacamole.  I even measured it this time, but I fully expect you not to.  In fact, I recommend you don’t.  Just toss a little o’ this and a little o’ that with a shimmy in your step, since it’s way more fun that way.


Pictured are some of the last ripe garden tomatoes we’ve got, fresh from my auntie’s farm.  So.  Good.

Quick Guacamole
Yields about 1 cup

Ingredients:

2 small and very ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup chopped green onion
2 tablespoons minced cilantro (or use parsley if you’re a cilantro hater)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon grated garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.  In a small bowl, mash the avocados with a fork until they’re fairly smooth with some chunks left.  The softer and creamier your avocados are, the easier this will be.  Stir in the green onion, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeno, cumin, garlic and salt.

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary – sometimes I’ll add more lime juice, or add more jalapeno if my pepper isn’t particularly strong.  Also, feel free to use minced red onion instead of the green onion if you want more kick – except I’d suggest using only 2 tablespoons.  Chopped fresh tomato is also a great choice for guacamole.

This is my staple guacamole that I whip up whenever I want more punch than simple (but delicious) avocado slices.  Spread it on toast, use it liberally with Mexican-style food, spread it thick on a veggie wrap, or use it for scooping up fresh veggies or corn chips.

I love guacamole because it’s fairly filling and rich but tastes so fresh, and doesn’t sit as heavy in my stomach as do nut- or oil-based spreads.  It’s especially groovetastic in the summer, which by now is starting to become a distant memory – though I ain’t complaining because nothing beats sunny fall weather!  Which, as we speak, is currently staring me in the face and beckoning me outside to enjoy it.

See you folks on the weekend!

decadent treat food, mains, recipes

Vegan Tuna Noodle Casserole

One of my all-time favorite meals growing up was tuna noodle casserole – I was in kid heaven whenever my parents made it for dinner.  It was really simple, too – just tuna, cans of condensed mushroom soup, noodles and cheese.  However, with the exception of the noodles, the entire original recipe was very non-vegan.

But I couldn’t leave this be a dusty comfort food relic of the past.  I’ve attempted to re-make this before without much success, but I must’ve been in the MoFo gods’ good favor yesterday, because this one came out great – and it wasn’t even complicated to make!

Finding a vegan substitution for tuna is tricky.  In the end, I opted for tofu since it would be the closest in texture and since it’s easy to use, and I cut it into very small shreds to sort of resemble a tuna texture.  When I took a bite of the tofu as it marinated on the counter, I couldn’t believe how tuna-like the taste was – and it was just a simple concoction of lemon juice, kelp and some seasonings.  The similarity was almost eerie.

Of course, it looks nothing like tuna, especially once it’s all mixed into the casserole.  And if you’re not into the tuna thing, this would be great using chopped and sauteed mushrooms instead, which would pair beautifully with the white mushroom sauce.  Because then it would be a mushroom party.  A broccoli white sauce will be my next attempt, since Logan emphatically requested it, and who could say no to broccoli?  I’ll never understand the prevailing attitude that broccoli is gross and all kids hate it.  Logan and I loved it as kids…but maybe we were odd.  Maybe.

Vegan Tuna Noodle Casserole
Makes 6 large servings

1 batch of tofu “tuna” (see recipe below)
1 batch of white mushroom sauce (see recipe below)
1 bag of macaroni (about 3 cups dried), cooked to crisp-tender and drained
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup cheddar Daiya cheese (or other vegan cheese)

1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F and lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish.  Combine the tofu tuna, white mushroom sauce, cooked macaroni and peas in a large bowl and stir.  Pour the noodle mixture into the casserole dish and top with the Daiya.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

This casserole is soft and juicy when it’s fresh from the oven, and develops a sliceable texture once it’s been refrigerated.  Both ways are great!

Tofu “Tuna”

Ingredients:

1 block firm organic tofu
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon kelp powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1. Dice the tofu by slicing it into a very thin julienne and then chopping the thin pieces.  Place the tofu in a medium bowl along with the lemon juice, onion powder, paprika, kelp powder and salt and toss gently to combine.  Set aside to marinate for an hour or two.  When it’s ready to use in the casserole recipe, drain any excess liquid from the bowl.

White Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:

1/4 cup vegan margarine
1 small onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
6 cloves garlic, grated
1 cup diced mushrooms (about 4 white button mushrooms)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

Directions:

1.  Heat the vegan margarine in a small saucepan over medium low heat.  Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and salt, cover and cook until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.  Slowly pour in the vegetable broth and milk, whisking the mixture well to avoid lumps.  Stir constantly and bring the mixture just to a boil, then remove from the heat.

It helps of your liquid is warm before pouring it into the flour, since the flour mixture is much less likely to clump.

So friggin’ tasty.  Great white sauces are really easy to make, and I’m not sure why I don’t do them more often.  If you wanted a super-simple meal, the white mushroom sauce would be great drizzled on cooked pasta and topped with some sauteed veggies, especially mushrooms.

I must make a note on how important I find it to use unsweetened non-dairy milk.  Maybe it’s just me, but using the regular stuff just leaves a “taste” in the sauce and makes the whole thing kind of odd.  And I know dairy milk has sugar in it (lactose), but there’s something about the added sugar in non-dairy milks that doesn’t taste quite right in a savory application.  Go with the plainest of all milks you can find – I like the plain So Delicious coconut milk cartons.  It’s not great on its own, but it’s fantastic in savory dishes.

Well, it’s official – my band has 4 shows coming up in the next two months, which means that starting on the weekend, my meals are going to become a lot more health-foody.  Not only do I choose to eat well around show time to protect my immune system (nothing worse than singing on stage with a cold!), but it also improves the quality of my voice and my energy levels, which is kind of obvious but it’s easy to forget about.  I wrote about this more in-depth in my Pre-Performance Food and Wellness Tips article if you’re interested.

That said and done, I’ll catch y’all tomorrow! 🙂

Brunch, recipes

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Is it just me, or do pumpkins have this magic ability to infiltrate our minds and will us to consume them like crazy at this time of year?  I’m not sure why pumpkins would be so keen on being eaten or how they developed their psychic skills; all I know is that something is going on here.  I’m on to you, pumpkin.

This warming, robust pumpkin pie oatmeal is a spin-off of the easy pumpkin pudding recipe I posted several days ago, because I wanted something for breakfast with a little bit more oomph and staying power, something that would get me full and keep me there for a while.

During the MoFo of last year, I posted a recipe for pumpkin breakfast oats which is very similar to what I’m sharing today, except that I’m updating it with a few modifications and tweaks.

Seeing as both pumpkin and blackstrap molasses are rich sources of iron, this is a breakfast I can feel plenty good about – though I’m well aware that not everyone loves blackstrap molasses as much as I do, and if you don’t, maple syrup will work just fine and dandy.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal
Serves 1

Ingredients:

A bowl of pre-made oatmeal *see note
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 banana, mashed (mash it right into the oats or in a separate bowl)
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses (or maple syrup)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
12 pecan halves, chopped

Directions:

1.  In your pre-made oatmeal bowl, add the pumpkin puree, banana, blackstrap molasses, cinnamon and ginger and stir well to combine.  Garnish with the chopped pecan halves and enjoy!

Note:

Everyone has their own way of enjoying oatmeal, whether it be the old-fashioned stovetop method, quick oats in the microwave, or uncooked overnight oats.  Just do what you like to do – I tend to opt for either overnight oats or quick oats cooked in a mix of soy milk and water.

This pumpkin pie oatmeal is a perfect breakfast because not only is it filling and hearty, it also takes all of 5 minutes to make.  I don’t know about you guys, but it’s the rare morning when I’m willing to spend more time than that in the kitchen.

And here are some more great pumpkin recipes that I’ve seen across the interwebz:

Rachael of Passing Daisies: Award-Winning Pumpkin Donuts
Betsy of the Blooming Platter: Pumpkin-Bourbon French Toast with Pepita Caramel Syrup
Lee of Plenty Sweet Enough: Pumpkin Peanut Butter Oatmeal Squares
Jesse of the Happy Go Lucky Vegan: Autumn Pumpkin Waffles
Angela of Oh She Glows: Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheeze Sauce

One word: yum.

recipes, Soups and Stews

Spicy Black Bean and Vegetable Soup

Back in the day, I used to eat a lot of canned soup.  Even back when I never cooked, I loved soup, especially the hearty, chunky kind.  Or ramen.  Mmm, ramen.

This spicy black bean and vegetable soup is a remake of one particular can of soup I used to eat frequently.  It’s a substantial soup with black beans and corn and tastes sort of like chili, but it’s a little brothier.  And though this recipe says “spicy”, it really isn’t the burn-your-face variety of heat – more like a pleasant fire in the background, like a soft-lit fireplace emanating from a picturesque house on a winter’s eve.  Of course, adjust the heat to your liking – if you’re into crazy action movie explosion heat, then go for it.

It isn’t a perfect replica of the canned soup, which in some ways is awesome because the entire can (2 skimpy servings) is about 1,000mg of sodium, but it’s still really, really tasty.  It’s a nice alternative to chili when you don’t want something quite so thick and hearty, but still want a soup that can stand alone as a meal.

Spicy Black Bean and Vegetable Soup
Makes 6 large servings

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or hot pepper, seeded and minced
1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 cup)
4 cups cooked black beans (or two cans, rinsed and drained)
4 cups vegetable broth (I used 1 bouillon cube)
1 19-oz can small-cut tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 cup corn kernels
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt, to taste
Vegan sour cream, for serving (optional)


Directions:

1. In a large soup pan, heat the olive oil on medium-low.  Add the onion and saute about five minutes, until it softens.  Add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for about a minute, until fragrant.  Then add the red bell pepper, zucchini, black beans, vegetable broth, tomatoes, sugar, onion powder, cumin and oregano.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables soften.

2.  Add the frozen corn to the pot.  Remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from the soup and place it into a small bowl, along with the cornstarch and tomato paste.  Stir until smooth and fully combined, and then add it back to the simmering soup mixture, stirring well.  The broth will thicken a little.  Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice, as well as any salt if necessary.

Stir a small spoonful of vegan sour cream into each serving if you so desire – I think that little addition tasted excellent.

Serve with grilled sandwiches, a nice and crisp green salad, or on its own with a hearty piece of bread.

In other news, Dawn of Vegan Fazool has passed on the super-cute Liebster blog award to moi:

This is something that’s given to cool bloggers with less than 200 followers to show some appreciation during vegan MoFo – thanks again, Dawn!

So the rules are as follows:

1.       Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2.       Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3.       Post the award on your blog.
4.       Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!

And I’m passing this award on to…

1. Kristen from Different Shades of Green, who takes amazing, drool-worthy photos.
2. Jess from Cupcakes and Kale, with a gorgeous site and great taste in food!
3. Jesse from the Happy Go Lucky Vegan, who’s awesome and almost at 200 followers – you should help her hit that mark!
4. The gal behind Food Feud, with the best blog name and profile picture ever.
5. Esther of A,B,C, Vegan, who’s one of the nicest people I was lucky enough to meet at the Vida Vegan Con, and just started a blog for MoFo!

Most of these blogs were ones I discovered this month during MoFo, and I’m super happy I did!  So thanks for being wonderful, and keep doing what you’re doing. 🙂

dessert, recipes

Easy Pumpkin Pudding

Happy Saturday, everyone!

I wanted to share this easy pumpkin pudding recipe with you because I’ve recently gotten addicted to it and have been eating it every morning.  It’s.  So.  Good.  And easy (hence the title).  There’s something about this time of year that just makes me want to eat a whack-ton of pumpkin, especially in sweet applications.  And as much as I love pumpkin pie, it’s not something that I want to be eating for breakfast every morning.

This recipe was inspired by Gena’s Pumpkin Pie Pudding, with me meddling a bit and swapping a banana for cashews so I’d be able to enjoy a big serving to myself for breakfast, or for a mid-afternoon snack.  I also added some ground ginger in there, because ginger and pumpkin are BFF, didn’t you know?

And for some random nutritional information, in case you needed another reason to eat pumpkin:  it’s super high in beta-carotene (vitamin A), with just a half cup being over 300% of the DRI.  Pumpkin also packs in a ton or iron, vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber.  But the most important thing is that pumkin is yummy – what’s the point in all that great nutrition if it tastes like ick? 

Easy Pumpkin Pudding
Serves 1

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana (or a normal banana, but add some ice)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup – 1 cup non-dairy milk (depends on how thick you want it)
1 tablespoon molasses (go for blackstrap if you’ve got it)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
12 pecan halves, chopped (optional)

Directions:

1.  In a blender, process the banana, pumpkin puree, non-dairy milk, molasses, cinnamon and ginger until smooth, adding more milk if you want a thinner pudding.  Pour it into a bowl and garnish with the optional chopped pecans.  Enjoy!

I completely love the texture contrast between this creamy pudding and the crunchy pecans – their unique buttery flavor plays very nicely with pumpkin’s mild-mannered ways. 

I think it’ll be a while before I get sick of this super easy pumpkin pudding.  It’s just like pumpkin pie in a bowl, but way healthier!  You just can’t go wrong with that.

Well folks, I’m keeping this post short today, since I’m busy with work and a wine party with the band and our album production team.  We’ll catch up tomorrow with my submission for Vegan MoFo’s Iron Chef Challenge #2, which could turn out awesome, or a complete disaster – whatever the outcome, I’m excited to play!

And hey – we’ve hit the MoFo halfway mark, and it’s been a blast so far!  I can’t wait to see what the other half of the month will bring, especially as we near Halloween. 🙂