March 31, 2011

Sweet Chili Carrot Fries

Looking for a novel new way to eat your carrots? Look no further than these Sweet Chili Carrot Fries! Easy to prepare, and baked in a jiff, they are the perfect after-school snack. They also make a great side to veggie burgers and tofu dogs. I served them with Tofu Florentine last night, and the whole family loved them. Delicious!

16 carrots, peeled and julienned
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Black pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Place the carrot sticks in a large Tupperware bowl that has a tight-fitting lid.
  • Pour oil and remaining ingredients into the bowl, on top of the carrot sticks.
  • Secure the lid and shake the ingredients around vigorously until every last carrot stick is coated with flavor.
  • Place the carrot sticks, in a single layer, on an ungreased cookie sheet. 
  • Bake for about 15 minutes. Check the carrot sticks, shake the pan, flip them around, whatever you need to do.
  • Continue to bake for an additional 5-15 minutes, until carrot sticks are soft in the middle but nice and crunchy around the edges. Watch them closely.
  • Makes 4 servings.
  • Enjoy!

March 29, 2011

Gluten-Free Agave-Sweetened Corn Bread

Remember that great deal on brown rice flour I told you to take advantage of a short while back? Well, now it's time to start feeding the fiddler and using that stuff! At the behest of Kris Carr's new book, Crazy Sexy Diet, my husband and I have decided to try a gluten-free and sugar-free diet for a while to see how it treats us. As usual, he's already lost fifteen pounds and I have lost nothing. Nothing! Why am I perpetually unable to lose weight? Am I cursed?? Anyway, I will say that the gluten-free transition has given me a lot more energy. I've been going to the park with my little one a lot more, and I even hoisted my big butt up onto a bicycle and rode a while yesterday. So, weight loss or not, I am definitely seeing positive changes. Thanks, Kris Carr! Now if I could just get into the habit of downing a big green smoothie every morning instead of a cup of coffee... Well, I'm still working on that.
This recipe is adapted from the cornbread recipe in the Gluten-Free Vegan cookbook. The only things I did different were that I left out the sorghum flour (I just doubled the brown rice flour), I substituted canola oil for the grapeseed oil, and I brushed a little bit of melted Earth Balance butter over the top of the finished product. Can you say, "Yummy-licious?!" We ate this cornbread with some homemade black turtle beans, and it was the perfect complement. Hope you like it too!

(recipe from Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O'Brien)
"This cornbread can be stored in an air-tight container for several days."

1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer (whisked together with 2 tablespoons warm water)
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup hemp or soy milk
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
4 teaspoons baking powder*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 
  • Spray an 8 or 9 inch square pan with vegetable oil nonstick spray.
  • In a small bowl, whisk the egg replacer with the warm water, until bubbles form and the powder has completely dissolved.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the agave nectar and oil, and beat until smooth and thick, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the egg replacer mixture and milk, and continue to mix until well blended. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine the brown rice and sorghum flours, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal, and stir well together. Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and stir until it becomes incorporated. Do not overbeat. Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake until lightly browned on top, 18 to 20 minutes. 
  • Cool on wire rack and serve. 
  • This is wonderful served as an accompaniment to black beans, with a side of guacamole.
*The baking powder link I provided in the recipe will take you to a really good deal on aluminum-free baking powder by Bob's Red Mill. None of the stores in my area supply aluminum-free baking powder, so I was really happy to find this and wanted to share it with you guys!

March 28, 2011

Easy Cheezy Enchiladas

(Alternate Title: The Enchilada Experiment, Part 2)

This is the lazy man's vegan Mexican dinner. The way I invented it was... well, I was feeling really lazy, and I badly wanted some enchiladas. The best thing about this dish is that it can be stored for several days in the fridge and it's great to keep around for quick lunches. I just scoop out a couple of enchiladas, plop some brown rice onto the plate with it, toss it all into my toaster oven and heat it to perfection. It's great! My husband loves to take these to work for lunch too.
You may recall The Enchilada Experiment, Part 1, which I posted about a year-and-a-half ago. Those first enchiladas may have been a bit more healthy, what with the fresh veg in them and stuff. But sometimes you just want the ooey, gooey, Tex-Mex thing, something that tastes like it comes from a really fattening Tex-Mex chain restaurant. Only, really, these aren't so terribly bad for you. They're just maybe not as good for you as the first ones. But, who cares. Give them a try! I recommend serving them with a side of brown rice or polenta (there's a great easy recipe in the Gluten-Free Vegan cookbook). Speaking of the Gluten-Free Vegan cookbook, I'm going to start leaning toward more gluten-free fare, so be on the lookout for that in the near future!

12 corn tortillas, heated lightly in a cast-iron skillet or over a flame until pliable
1 package of your favorite vegan soy crumbles
1 package of your favorite vegan taco seasoning
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 white or yellow onion, finely diced
1 to 2 cups of your favorite vegan Cheddar, shredded (I used Daiya)
1 can of your favorite vegan enchilada sauce
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a 9x13" casserole dish. 
  • Prepare your "meat" as directed on the taco seasoning package. 
  • Add the beans to the "meat" and stir well.
  • Lay your prepared tortillas into the dish, in a U-shape, each one leaning on another.
  • Spoon your "meat" and bean mixture equally into the tortillas. 
  • Top with half the cheese and half the onions.
  • Take one tortilla and gently wrap it up, then flip it over so it doesn't open. Repeat!
  • Now pour your enchilada sauce all over those cute little tortilla roll-ups.
  • Top with remaining cheese and onions.
  • Bake, uncovered (I don't believe in tin foil), for about 20 minutes, until your cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated through. Be careful not to overcook and dry out your cheese.
  • Enjoy!

March 20, 2011

Meatout with Your Feet Out!

Today kicks off the 26th annual international Meatout event, a grassroots campaign started in 1985 by F.A.R.M.(Farm Animal Rights Movement), with the purpose of educating the masses about the importance of living compassionately, and about how delicious and healthy a vegan diet truly is!

Since it's inception, the Meatout movement has grown like crazy, garnering thousands of new supporters and pledges every year. With the help of volunteers and bloggers (like yours truly), the word spreads like wildfire to every corner of the world, and more and more people get inspired and involved. And that, my friends, is how things get done.

If you can't get on board with Meatout for some reason, F.A.R.M. has started several other equally successful campaigns that might suit your fancy, such as:
To put it lightly, F.A.R.M. busts its hot little hiney to help animals by educating the public about the truth behind their food. Please help support this great group, and all the good things they do (and have been doing since 1976), by dropping a little coin into their tip jar. They need your help, and so do the animals!

If you're new to the Meatout movement, go ahead and order your free  Veg Starter Kit. It's informative and packed with yummy recipes.

Here are links to some other free and friendly vegetarian starter guides too:

March 18, 2011

Food Should Taste Good, Yes?

A while back I received a very generous package full of vegan chip varieties from Food Should Taste Good. Being a chip hound, I was utterly delighted! How did they know I would tear into that box of chips like a Tasmanian devil on caffeine overload? I can't explain how they had come by such intimate knowledge of my cravings (The Matrix? Big Brother?), but I am so glad they did!
Of all the flavor varieties, I would have to say that the Multigrain was the derby champ. Made with brown rice flour, soy flour and quinoa - and sprinkled throughout with sunflower and flax seeds - it is entirely gluten-free and completely delicious! It was a perfect pairing for homemade hummus.
If you're wanting more of a nacho-type chip, though, look no further than the Yellow Corn. It is the thickest and the strongest, and held up very well to my heavy heaps of Daiya cheddar and taco-flavored soy crumbles. The Blue Corn, while very tasty, crumbled like nitroglycerin-encrusted rose petals under the weight of nacho toppings, and easily broke when dipped into hummus. The Blue Corn chips are best eaten with a light salsa or just plain.
I would love to tell you what I thought of the Jalapeno flavor, but my husband cracked them open and gobbled up the whole bag before I had a chance. When I asked him what he thought of them, he smiled through a mouthful of chips and gave me a hearty thumbs-up. Guess that means they're good!
Likewise, my two-and-a-half year old daughter downed the bag of Sweet Potato chips pretty much all by her little tiny self. Although she did graciously shove one or two of them in my mouth before she polished off the bag. The verdict? Delicious! There isn't much that comes from a sweet potato that I won't eat. I love them. My daughter loves them. My husband loves them. The chips were mildly, but naturally, sweet. They did not require a dip. They are a perfect side to sandwiches and soups. These were a very close second to the Multigrain.
Lastly, we come to the Olive chips. These chips were very tasty, but only if you love olives. I do happen to love olives, so I took to the chips with fervor. But the olive-y taste is strong. They are not just made with olive oil - there are actually three types of real olives right there in the chip. So, just a warning... If you don't like the taste of olives, avoid these. However, if you love the taste of olives, tear these bad boys up. They are really good! And they taste great with hummus, so I highly recommend that pairing.
A special thanks goes out to Food Should Taste Good for sending me this box of delicious yum-yums. My whole family enjoyed them!

March 14, 2011

Spicy Rice and Vegetable Stew

Most financial experts would advise a gal on a tight budget (like yours truly) to plan a menu, and a consequential shopping list based on that menu. They'd tell me, "Stick to your menu. Do not buy more than that, and you'll be good to go." But I don't work that way. Really, the only gauge I shop with when I head to the grocery store is the stack of coupons in my hand matched by what's already on sale. I carefully peruse  grocery store websites, newspaper inserts, and coupon booklets to find what deals I can stack on top of each other for the best prices. I have turned it into my scientific specialty, and I very often end up saving more than I spend. And that, my friends, is how I stock my kitchen. With that being explained, this particular stew came about by what I found on sale at the market last Friday. I found a varietal bag of organic frozen mushrooms on clearance, organic spinach on its last legs at a great price (it was still gorgeous), and vegan Italian sausages on sale for half-price at Kroger. I already had an abundance of brown rice, and I had a coupon for organic tomato sauce. Sooo... voila! Meet my Spicy Rice and Vegetable Stew, an idea born from the standard tomato-based beef stew recipe and sweetened with an extra jolt of hot and spicy!

1 cup water (plus one can full, later)
1 medium white onion, diced small
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 large spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (I used a variety of frozen mushrooms)
1 cup broccoli florets (I used frozen)
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice
1 package of your favorite vegan "meat" (I used sliced Italian sausages)
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
A few shakes of liquid smoke, if ya got it
Dash of cayenne
Salt and pepper, to taste
  • In a large skillet, saute onions, carrots, and garlic in 1 cup of water over medium heat until soft.  Most of the water should be cooked off before you proceed.
  • Add tomato sauce. Fill tomato sauce can with water, and add that too. Stir well.
  • Add in your pre-cooked rice, and stir again. Cover and allow to simmer over medium-low heat for a few minutes, until everything is equally hot through and through, and well mixed. 
  • Add your choice of "meat." I like to use vegan Italian sausages, but ground beef substitute works well too. I've never tried it with a chicken substitute, but I think that might work too! If you're using sausages, I suggest you slice and pre-cook them in a cast iron skillet until they are lightly brown and crispy on the sides, but this is not absolutely necessary if you're in a hurry.
  • Add remaining veggies, starting with the spinach, then the mushrooms. Put the broccoli in last - try to keep it from getting overcooked and soggy. You might even want to save it until the very last step.
  • Add remaining spices, to taste. Cover and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  • Makes 8 servings. 
  • Enjoy!

March 1, 2011

Quinoa with Adzuki Beans

I've been in kind of a kitchen rut lately. I've mostly been eating salad, with the occasional treat of Daiya nachos. (Remember, I bought 20 bags of Daiya at a dollar a bag several weeks ago? Yeah, maybe 20 bags was a little ambitious. Thank God it freezes!) So, the last time I went to the grocery store I felt drawn to some of the weirder offerings, particularly ones that didn't blow my budget. I decided on a bag of Garbanzo Bean Flour (weird, right?) and a bag of organic Japanese Adzuki Beans. I'd never heard of these beans, but the label on the bag touted "high fiber!" And those are the magic words for me. The Cancer Project recommends 40 grams of fiber per day to keep your engine running smoothly, so any way I can cram more fiber into my diet, I'm gonna.
I haven't tried the garbanzo bean flour yet, but I cooked up the adzuki beans a couple of days ago, mixed them with some quinoa and spices, sizzled up some veggie bacon for garnish, and the whole family has been eating on this one batch since then! My husband just had a big bowl for lunch. It's the high-protein dish that just keeps on giving. Try it out for yourself!

5 1/2 cups water, separated
1 cup adzuki beans (if you can't find 'em, just sub your bean of choice)
1 cup quinoa (sub brown rice if you're really hurtin')
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce 
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 strips vegan bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces, for garnish (optional)
  • Start your beans the day before you actually want to make the dish. You will need to soak them overnight in three cups of water. The next day, drain and rinse the beans, add a fresh 3 cups of water, and set them to cook over medium-high heat. Once they're boiling reduce heat to low and cover. 
  • For the quinoa, boil 2 cups of water. Add 1 cup of quinoa. Stir it around, cover and reduce heat. It only take about 20 minutes to cook. Once it's done, just shut off the heat and let it steam up while you finish your beans. 
  • While beans and quinoa are simmering, saute onion and garlic in half a cup of water, adding more water if needed to keep them from sticking. When onions are translucent and garlic is soft add them to the beans, stir in well, and re-cover the pot.
  • Add all remaining ingredients, except bacon, and stir in well. Re-cover and allow beans to simmer at least an hour, until soft. You will have to do some taste-testing every now and again to see how they're coming along.
  • When everything is ready, add the quinoa to the bean pot (or vice versa, depending on which pot is bigger) and stir it all around. I like to sing a little 'stirring song' while I'm doing it.
  • Ladle beans into a bowl and top with bacon. It was also fantastic with nutritional yeast sprinkled on top! Green onions might be good too. Hmmmm...
  • Makes 8 servings.
  • Enjoy!
NUTRITION FACTS* (per serving):
Calories: 142.7 / Total Fat: 1.6g (Saturated Fat: 0g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0g) / Cholesterol: 0mg / Sodium: 296.4mg / Potassium: 188.9mg / Total Carbohydrate: 24.1g (Dietary Fiber: 4.0g, Sugars: 1.6g) / Protein: 5.6g
*Nutrition Facts calculated without the optional bacon.