Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Midnight Express Mushroom Pasta

If you looked in my pantry, you would probably think that I am preparing for a long winter storm. I have at least 2 cabinets and a few drawers filled with tea, at least 6 pounds of pasta, jars of dried beans and grains, an 8pd bag of potatoes, and other items that I consider essential. Pasta is something that I always have on hand. It's filling, cheap (if you buy the right kind), quick, and you can easily dress it up or down. For those of you with intestinal troubles, like me, pasta is also a great bland food for when you're not feeling so great. 

Since I was a kid, noodles with butter and salt has been one of my comfort foods. A few weeks ago, I had a thought: why not try tamari and vegan butter? I tried it over some GF soba noodles and was floored. The combo of umami tamari and rich vegan butter was more than a success, so now I'm hooked. Last night I took the time to fancy it up a little by adding mushrooms and green onions. I'm not sure why I'm calling it Midnight Express Mushroom pasta, but let's just roll with it. It's quick, cheap, and damn delicious! Make it as rich as you want it to be, just don't use too much tamari or it will be too salty.

Midnight Express Mushroom Pasta

  • 1 pd GF pasta or soba noodles (I recommend soba)
  • 3-4 cups thinly sliced cremini or shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 TBS vegan butter, divided (do not substitute this with oil), plus more for serving
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 bunch of green onions, thinly sliced diagonally (you could use a whole bunch)
  • 1.5 TBS GF soy sauce (tamari), plus more for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook your noodles according to package directions. Note that soba noodles are cooked differently than pasta. When finished, drain and rinse and return to your pasta pot.
  2. Heat a small or medium sized skillet on medium heat. Add 1 TBS vegan butter and swirl it around the pan until melted. Add the mushrooms, a tiny pinch of salt, and stir. Cook mushrooms until buttery and soft, about 10 or more minutes. They should be wonderfully browned and almost caramelized.
  3. Add the green onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions become lightly browned, about 1-2 minutes. Add the last 1 TBS of vegan butter and 1.5 TBS of tamari. Stir well and let cook for about 30 seconds, letting a thick sauce form. Immediately pour over the pasta.
  4. Stir the mushroom mix into the pasta evenly. Taste for vegan butter and tamari, but do not add salt because that's what the soy sauce is for! I added about an extra tablespoon of vegan butter and two teaspoons of soy sauce. It just depends on how rich you want it to be!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Les Bouchées Quotidiennes

It's finally Fall break! Woo-hoo! I also realized that I haven't done a meal post in over a month, so that was my first order of business for Fall break! A month or so ago, I won a copy of Salad Samurai, which I had been looking forward to reading ever since I heard about it. I will definitely do a full review of it once classes are over, but for now, these are the first recipes I've made from it. I made my own salad with the That 70s Tofu recipe (roasted in tamari, apple cider vinegar, etc.) and the Upstate dressing. The Upstate dressing is supposed to be a healthier and gluten-free version of Annie's Woodstock dressing, which I loved when I was younger. Both recipes were incredibly flavorful and easy to make! I also love that she splits up the recipes by season...but I will save the rest of my lovey-dovey feelings for Salad Samurai when I do a full review! 

Typically when we think of "sweet and sour" we think of a stir-fried dish, or even sauce that comes with spring rolls. This sweet and sour brown rice salad from Isa Does It is possibly my new favorite sweet and sour recipe! I did make a couple of changes: I used steamed edamame instead of azuki beans and I used sprouted green peas instead of mung beans. I think next time I will probably leave the sprouts out, because I've come to realize that I am not a huge fans of sprouted beans. Besides that, this salad is tangy, zesty, crunchy, and super flavorful! Don't skip the fresh mint or cilantro! This would be a great lunch to pack for any day of the week as well.

Near the end of summer, I was walking through the grocery store, and I realized that I almost forgot to make minestrone this summer. I quickly looked up the ingredients to my favorite recipe from Shutterbean, and cooked up a huge pot of it that very night. I have tried many different variations on minestrone, but I always come back to this one. I am convinced that the combination of curry powder and red wine vinegar is what makes this particular minestrone incredible and habit-forming. Summer produce is still lingering at markets, however, so make this minestrone before it's too late!

Here's an easy dinner that I pulled together with out a recipe. Warmed GF tortillas (I use Trader Joe's) spread with vegan refried beans, some Mexican spiced tofu scramble that I made, plus fresh tomatoes, avocado, and chipotle lime hot sauce. It doesn't get much better than this! 

The mini slow-cooker is a great appliance. It allows you to cook food while you're gone, but it doesn't give you a ton of leftovers that would take weeks to eat. What pairs best with a mini slow-cooker? A book from one of my favorite vegan (and local!) authors which is Vegan slow-cooking for just 1 or 2. This recipe is sloppy black-eyed peas, which also has millet and spinach in it, which I put on toast with hot sauce. I also made some balsamic roasted green beans to eat on the side. Both recipes were great, and the sloppy black-eyed peas were also great over potatoes! I would definitely like to use my mini slow-cooker more this winter.

I love lentil soup, and I am always looking for new variations! This is a lentil soup with cumin and coriander, which you can easily adjust to whatever you have in your fridge. For example, I used yellow squash, only one or two small potatoes, and frozen spinach. This is technically a pressure cooker recipe, but to make it on the stove I just brought everything minus the spinach and lemon to boil, and simmered for an hour or so. After that, I added the lemon, spinach, and more spices. This makes a TON of soup, but I'm sure you could freeze some for the coming colder months! I did love how easy this soup was to make and that it required no oil! 

This is definitely one of my new favorite versatile recipes: tomato rice from Food52, which I veganized and made with short-grain brown rice. It was easy to put together, super flavorful, and you could eat it in so many different ways! The first night I had it, I pan-seared some carrots and broccoli in a nutritional yeast sauce to go with it. The following day, I ate it with some soft-boiled eggs and nutritional yeast. If you're vegan, this would be lovely with some pan-seared chickpeas and greens! I would also like to see how this rice holds up in a burrito with black beans and greens. The possibilities are endless! 

Procrastibaking (noun) - When you have so much work that you don't want to do, so you bake something instead. I am occasionally guilty of procrastibaking, and this was one of those occasions. I blame the fact that there was leftover pumpkin puree in my fridge, just begging to be turned into muffins every time I looked at it. This is my standby recipe for gluten and dairy-free pumpkin chocolate chip muffins; and yes, I always make them with chocolate chips! There's a local bakery near me that makes the BEST, gigantic, fluffy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, but they are full of things that I cannot eat. BUT, these are seriously amazing and you will not want to share them. Hooray for fall baking (and for procrastibaking too)!

Breakfast from this week: almond butter toast and a vegan vanilla chai smoothie. So good!

Did you know that GF orzo exists? That's right, and it's incredibly delicious! I discovered that I had some in my pantry from a random Walmart trip (which rarely happens) and I decided to use it for tempeh orzilla, originally from Isa Does It. I don't even know where to start with this recipe because it's so good and has a lot of flavor going on. The tempeh sausage crumbles taste almost identical to regular Italian sausage because of the fennel seed and coriander (which is a great thing). After the orzo is done cooking, it's mixed with a nutritional yeast, white wine and rosemary sauce, along with sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, and sauteed thinly sliced red onions. Are you drooling yet? This might be one of my new favorite pasta dishes ever, and it was so easy to make! Isa might want to consider re-naming her book Isa always Does it because her recipes are the bomb!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Cookbook Review: 'Choosing Raw' by Gena Hamshaw

Recently, the wonderful people at Da Capo Press and Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw sent me this great book to review! This is my first cookbook review, so as you can imagine, I'm a little nervous and excited. I have been reading Gena's blog for quite some time now, and I was thrilled to learn that she was publishing a cookbook. What strikes me most about Gena is her attitude towards raw and plant-based foods. She isn't telling you to go 100% raw or vegan immediately after this post, because she understands that making that transition or even just adding more plant-based foods is a long process. 

Toasted Pumpkin Granola p.148

Reading Gena's introduction to her book really struck a chord with me. Sometimes when I think about my own journey of becoming gluten-free and mostly vegan, I forget that there are probably a lot of people out there that have suffered in very similar ways. Gena is very open in her introduction about her past, which sounds almost identical to mine: from battles with eating disorders, to IBS and digestion issues, we have had very similar troubles. But our outcome has been the same as well: we understand that there must be a balance in our diets in order for us to be healthy and for our bodies to be happy.

Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble p.152

So, are you interested in adding more plant-based or vegan foods into your diet? How about trying more raw recipes? Gena's book is a great starting point for anyone who wants to try these things. She breaks it down to it's post fundamental points with these sections: The Why, The What, and The How. This is a great, simple way for people to understand what it means to add more plant-based foods, how it's possible, and why it's a great thing. Since she is a licensed nutritionist, she includes a mini nutrition lesson (which I certainly appreciated), as well as a discussion on the ethics of consuming animals, and answering frequently asked questions or busting common myths. She also discusses the ways in which plant-based foods and raw foods can improve our digestion, energy, and immunity.

Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli p.155

One of my favorite parts of this book is The How section. When I started to change my diet towards more vegan food, I did it all by figuring it out myself and reading a ton of blogs. Gena makes it straight-forward just how simple it is to add more plant-based foods into our diet. Of course, it starts with having a well stocked pantry and the right appliances. These two things are the first things that I tell people who are looking to eat more plant-based. When you have a well-stocked and diverse pantry, alongside the right kitchen equipment, the possibilities for your meals are endless! Then it's just about time management and meal planning. A question that I get asked all of the time is "How do you work, go to school full time, and still cook for yourself all week long?" The answer is that I make time to do these things. And for the most part, I can have something going on the stove, in the oven, or the slow-cooker while I'm busy doing something else that needs to be done. It's not impossible! I also LOVE that Gena includes a very long and detailed meal plan in her book for us newbies to raw foods!

Nori and Pumpkin Seed Cigars p.116

The food section is also organized in a way to make it easier to transition to plant-based foods, with Level 1 (foods like granola and chickpea scrambles, to make it easier to adapt to plant-based foods), Level 2 (going outside of our comfort zone with collard wraps and portobello "steaks), and Level 3 (try something totally new like cashew banana yogurt or raw ratatouille). These leveled sections make it even easier, and fun, to start adding more plant-based foods into our diet! I also really enjoy the section labeled "15 essentials" which includes things like homemade almond milk, a green smoothie, and a kale salad. And last but not least, she also includes many desserts, most of which are raw! For instance, raw peach cobbler and blueberry cheesecake. I have to admit that I've grown fonder of raw desserts lately, and I can't wait to try my hand at them in the kitchen! 

Cinnamon-Sugar Roasted Chickpeas p.115

As for the recipes I tried, they were all super easy, quick to put together, and delicious! As you can tell, I tried a mix of raw and cooked recipes. The raw vegan bircher muesli was one of my favorites because it makes a lovely protein-packed and quick breakfast during the week! I also think I am seriously in love with the chickpea tofu tahini scramble. I've never thought of putting tahini in my tofu scrambles, but I might just have to now! The last recipe I made was the cinnamon-sugar roasted chickpeas that you see above. I was interested to see how the flavors would work together, and I was pleasantly surprised! I seriously can't recommend this book enough to anyone who is interested in seeking a more plant-based diet or raw foods in general!

A special thanks again to Da Capo Press and Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw for sending me this great book! All opinions expressed are my own.