April 30, 2011

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad


This is my newest addiction. It is so good! I have always loved tabbouleh salad, even long before my health journey began. A plate full of falafel, tabbouleh, and dolmas was, and still is, one of my very favorite meals. So, when my husband and I decided to try gluten-free for a while, I assumed that I would have no choice but to give up my good friend, tabbouleh. But, now I don't have to! I found a delicious substitute for the bulgur wheat - quinoa! It tastes wonderful, and adds a lot of extra nutritional value toward your daily protein goal.
And, hey, remember all that fresh mint I told you about in my garden? Well, I have fresh Italian parsley growing out there too. So, badda bing. Scrumptious tabbouleh is mine once again! Give it a try.

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
4 green onions, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/2 large cucumber, diced
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint, finely minced
1/8 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice, or less (to taste - I like a lot!)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

  • Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa and stir. Cover and reduce heat. Allow quinoa to simmer on medium-low heat until all water is cooked off, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to burn your quinoa. Allow to cool.
  • Place cooled quinoa into a large bowl (preferably something with an airtight lid).
  • Add all remaining ingredients and gently stir until very well-mixed. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Stir again before serving.
  • Can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for two or three days. But it's best on the first day, when the veggies are still fresh and crisp!
  • Makes about 6 servings.
  • Enjoy! 
NUTRITION INFO (per serving):
Calories: 192.6 / Total Fat: 8.8g (Saturated Fat: 0.9g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.6g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5.0g) / Cholesterol: 0g / Sodium: 6.8mg / Potassium: 97.1mg / Total Carbohydrates: 24.6g (Dietary Fiber: 3.7g, Sugars: 2.1g) / Protein: 4.7g / Iron: 18.3%
 

April 26, 2011

Ginger Mint Smoothie


I have a lovely crop of fresh peppermint growing in my backyard, and another of fresh spearmint. I've been throwing mint into everything - salads, smoothies, brownies, you name it. It's so delicious and it adds a great bevy of health benefits, such as the following:

  • Peppermint soothes the tummy. Peppermint oil has been shown to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowl syndrome, indigestion, and lots more.
  • Peppermint has been shown in preliminary studies to be a potential anti-cancer agent.
  • Peppermint is high in antioxidants. Take that, free radicals!
  • Peppermint acts as an anti-microbial. Eat and drink when you're sick, or to help ward off illness.
  • Inhibits fungal growth. Remember that horrible bout of pneumonia I had last year, followed by blazing systemic yeast overgrowth? Yeah, peppermint helped (along with lots and lots of acidophilus).
  • Excellent source of Manganese, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. Vitamin C has been shown to help reduce the incidence of colon tumors.
  • It just plain tastes awesome!
Try this smoothie on for size...

2 bananas, either very cold or frozen
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped up for blending
Handful of peppermint or spearmint leaves, about 1/4 cup loosely packed
2 teaspoons crushed ginger root (I used the frozen cubes
1 6-ounce container of low-fat organic vanilla yogurt
5 or 6 large ice cubes
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • Throw everything into a blender and swirl until desired consistency is reached. I like mine smooth and creamy.
  • Makes about 4 small (8 ounce) servings, or 2 big'uns.
  • Enjoy!
NUTRITION INFO (per 8-ounce serving):
Calories: 124.3 / Total Fat: 1.1g (Saturated Fat: 0.5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g) / Cholesterol: 2.5mg / Sodium: 35.8mg / Potassium: 239.4mg / Total Carbohydrates: 27.2g (Dietary Fiber: 2.4g, Sugar: 18.9g) / Protein: 2.9g

April 25, 2011

Awesome Vegan "See Food" Feast


Being a Southerner, I pretty much grew up on my Mee Maw's fried catfish. And I have a particular fondness for the flavor of seafood because I met my husband in the seaside town where I attended college (a city we lovingly refer to as the "armpit of the world") and we were always surrounded by the stuff. It smelled great, tasted better. Since becoming vegan, I've never found anything quite akin to great seafood or my granny's fried catfish... until now!!

Here's what you see on the plate:
  • Pan-Fried Tofu Wedges with Easiest-Ever Tartar Sauce.
  • Cauliflower Hummus and Tortilla Chips
  • Asian-Inspired Veggie Slaw
  • and some olives too
And here are the recipes:

PAN-FRIED TOFU WEDGES
1 pound extra-firm tofu, lightly pressed and sliced into 16 equal wedges
1 cup unsweetened soy milk
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Dash of cayenne
1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • In a small pan or wide, shallow bowl, whisk together soy milk, arrowroot, and lime juice until no lumps remain. The lime juice may curdle the milk slightly, but that's okay. I usually don't marinade the tofu, but I suppose you could marinade it up to an hour before cooking. 
  • Mix all dry ingredients together in another small pan or wide, shallow bowl. 
  • Heat oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet.
  • Gently dredge your tofu slices, one at a time, through the milk mixture and then through the cornmeal mixture, making sure each piece is completely and evenly coated. 
  • Place gently into the frying pan. Cook for about 2 1/2 minutes on each side, turning with both a small spatula and a pair of coated tongs. Only cook a few at a time. I like to place them onto a rack in my lightly heated toaster oven after they're done frying, so I can keep them nice and warm while I finish cooking them all. It also allows some of the oil to drip off.
EASIEST-EVER TARTAR SAUCE
1 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Throw it all in a bowl and stir it up. Easiest ever.
CAULIFLOWER HUMMUS
1/2 head's worth cauliflower florets, gently boiled until softened
3 cloves garlic
2 cups garbanzo beans
1/4 cup garbanzo bean cooking liquid, or more to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1/8 cup lemon juice
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Dash of cayenne
  • Chuck everything into a food processor and blend until creamy.
ASIAN-INSPIRED VEGGIE SLAW
I saved the best for last! I have been fiddling with this slaw (or "salad," depending on your mood) for a while now. And I think I have finally perfected it! Give it a try.
1 medium zucchini, finely diced (I used a SaladMaster, cone 1)
1 medium yellow squash, finely diced (SaladMaster, cone 1)
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced (yep, SM, cone 1 again)
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 head green cabbage, diced
  • Throw everything into a bowl and coat liberally with the following dressing. Add the dressing a little bit at a time, to taste. You probably won't use it all, but it keeps great in the fridge! 
  • Note: If you have access to fresh herbs, they will add some great zing to this dish! For this particular batch, I plucked a small handful of each from my backyard herb garden: Sweet Dani Basil, Purple Basil, Chives, and Italian Parsley. I minced them very finely, and stirred them right in. Delicious!
ASIAN GINGER DRESSING
3 teaspoons minced ginger root (I used the little frozen cubes)
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup agave nectar (or sugar)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Several shakes of sesame oil
1/8 cup lime juice
  • Put all ingredients into a bottle, or something that you can vigorously shake, and shake it until it's well-mixed. I actually prepare and store this dressing in an old soy sauce bottle. It keeps very well in the fridge for several days. Just be sure to shake it up again before using it.

April 16, 2011

Gluten-Free Blackberry Crumb Cake


I bought three clamshells of blackberries several weeks ago when they went on sale for a dollar apiece, and I chucked them right into the freezer to await the day when I would find a use for them. Today, my friends, is that day! 
Try this yummy crumb cake on for size...

CAKE
1 cup vegan butter, softened (I recommend Earth Balance)
1 cup organic sugar
1/2 cup agave nectar
4 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
1/4 cup water
1 cup plain soy yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 1/2 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
18 ounces fresh or frozen blackberries

TOPPING
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup unpacked organic brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cream together butter, sugar and agave in a large bowl until light and fluffy. This may take several minutes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together egg replacer and water until no lumps remain. Add to the large bowl and combine with creamed butter and sugar mixture. Set aside.
  • Use the egg replacer bowl to whisk together yogurt, vanilla, lemon extract and lemon juice.
  • And, in yet another medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  • Add flour and yogurt mixtures to the large bowl. Mix well.
  • Gently fold in the blackberries.
  • Pour batter into a greased 9x13" pan. Use a spatula to even it out.
  • Use your flour bowl to mix your toppings together. Then gently shake them out onto your cake batter in the pan.
  • Bake for 40-50 minutes, or longer if needed. Use a knife to test the cake in the center of the pan. When it comes out clean, your cake is done. Watch cake closely during the last 10-15 minutes of baking.
  • Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before slicing. 
  • Makes 12 servings.
  • Enjoy!
NUTRITION INFO (per serving):
Calories: 386.90 / Total Fat: 22.5g (Saturated Fat: 6.0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6.2g) / Cholesterol: 0mg / Sodium: 387.8mg / Potassium: 97.8mg / Total Carbohydrates: 44.7g (Dietary Fiber: 4.7g, Sugar: 19.5g) / Protein: 4.6g

    April 15, 2011

    Creamy Split Pea Soup


    I took this photo at dusk, so the soup looks yellowish-brown. But, trust me folks, it's green. Like, "exorcist green." And it's delicious!
    If you like, you could mince some veggie bacon and saute it with the onions at the beginning to add more of an authentic flavor, but I prefer to throw a three-inch piece of kombu in my soup water instead of the sauteed veggie bacon. If you have access to kombu (it's not very expensive, but can be hard to find - check the Asian aisle) I highly recommend it for all of your beans. It makes beans mucho flavorful, and it cuts down on the farts. Win win!

    1 white or yellow onion, finely diced
    1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, minced
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    8 cups water
    1 16-ounce bag split peas
    2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
    1 cup unsweetened soy milk, or whole milk
    5 sun-dried tomato halves, finely diced or minced
    A few shakes of sesame oil
    1 tablespoon paprika
    2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (gluten-free, if preferred)
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    Dash of chili powder
    Pinch of cayenne
    Salt and pepper, to taste
    Sprinkle parmesan or nutritional yeast on top (optional)
    • In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and oregano. Saute gently until onions are soft and translucent.
    • Add water, split peas, and all spices. Stir well and bring to a boil. Stir again, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and allow to simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
    • Add carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, and milk. Stir well, and allow to simmer another 15 or 20 minutes, until carrots, tomatoes, and peas are soft.
    • Use an immersion hand-blender to whip the soup until it's nice and creamy. Do a taste test to see if you need to add any more spices or cook a little while longer.
    • Serve with a generous sprinkle of parmesan or nutritional yeast on top.
    • Makes about 8 servings.
    • Enjoy!
    NUTRITIONAL INFO
    (per serving - calculated w/soy milk, no garnish)
    Calories: 115.2 / Total Fat: 2.9g (Saturated Fat: 0.4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1.4g) / Cholesterol: 0.0mg / Sodium: 180.2mg / Potassium: 298.2mg / Total Carbohydrates: 16.8g (Dietary Fiber: 6.2g, Sugar: 3.4g) / Protein: 6.4g / Iron: 9.9%

    April 6, 2011

    Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Coconut Macaroons


    Yeah, baby! These macaroons are vegan, gluten-free, and free of refined sugars. And they are fantastic with hot tea. I feel very British while eating these and sipping my organic black tea. It makes me want invite Rupert Giles over for a chat about the current state of the Hellmouth.
    I come from a long line of deeply Southern women, who were descended from a long line of deeply Irish women. British I am not. But, delicious these macaroons are! Hey, that sounded more Yoda than British, didn't it?

    Anyway, here's how to make 'em...

    3 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
    4 tablespoons water
    1/4 cup coconut milk (the canned stuff)
    1/2 cup agave nectar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 cup gluten-free all purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
    • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
    • Lightly oil a medium baking sheet, or spray with baking spray. Set aside.
    • Mix egg replacer and water in a large bowl and whisk together until all lumps are gone.
    • Add coconut milk, agave nectar, salt, flour and baking powder. Mix well.
    • Fold in coconut until well distributed throughout.
    • Drop by rounded teaspoonful (or use a small cookie scoop) onto prepared baking sheet.
    • Bake for 20 minutes. Keep an eye on your cookies for the last few minutes, and pull them out if they're getting too dark around the edges.
    • Transfer gently to a wire rack for cooling.
    • Makes 24 cookies.
    • Enjoy!
    The next time I make these, I might try drizzling a little melted chocolate over the tops. I think that would taste sublime!

    NUTRITION INFO (per cookie):
    Calories: 88.2 / Total Fat: 3.9g (Saturated Fat: 0.4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0g) / Cholesterol: 0mg / Sodium: 20.6mg / Potassium: 5.5mg / Total Carbohydrates: 13g (Dietary Fiber: 0.9g, Sugar: 4.1g) / Protein: 1g

    April 4, 2011

    Double "Triple Threat" Chocolate Chip Cookies


    I was a theatre major in college. Big surprise! Look, I even spell "theatre" in the drama-snoot British way, even though I've never been anywhere near England in my life. Well, back in my theatre days, we used to joke around during auditions about the dreaded "triple threat" auditionee, that special scene-stealer who could sing, dance, and act. When I made these cookies, they were so good, they reminded me of a triple threat. Let me explain...
    These chocolate chip cookies are "triple threats" in two ways. Firstly, they are vegan, gluten-free, and free of refined sugar (depending on the type of chocolate chip you use). And, secondly, they contain peanut butter, chocolate, and oatmeal. YOWZA! So, they're like double triple threats!
    I adapted these from the New Dawn Kitchen: Gluten-Free, Vegan, and (easily) Sugar-Free Desserts cookbook. The only thing I did different from the recipe was that I used maple syrup* instead of brown sweetener and I adjusted my cooking time to a couple of minutes less than the author's suggestion. My first batch was a little dark, and I tend to like 'em kinda smushy.

    1 1/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour
    4 teaspoons flaxseed meal
    1 cup gluten-free rolled oats or quinoa flakes
    1 cup brown sweetener (*I used 3/4 cup of maple syrup)
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
    1 teaspoon xantham or guar gum (I used xantham)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/4 cup oil (I used canola)
    1/2 cup liquid sweetener (I used agave nectar)
    3/4 cup chunky peanut butter (always use the natural stuff)
    1 bag vegan chocolate chips (grain-sweetened if avoiding sugar, fair-trade always)
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
    • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well to incorporate everything together.
    • Drop the dough onto a greased cookie sheet. 
    • Bake 6 minutes (I baked for 5 minutes), rotate pans, and bake another 4-6 minutes (I stopped at 4 minutes), until they are just becoming crisp around the edges.
    • Makes two dozen cookies.
    NUTRITION INFO (per cookie): 
    Calories: 197.2 / Total Fat: 9.4g (Saturated Fat: 2.7g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.8g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1.5g) / Cholesterol: 0mg / Sodium: 99.3mg / Potassium: 48.3mg / Total Carbohydrates: 28.5g (Dietary Fiber: 2.6g, Sugar: 14.3g) / Protein: 4g