Days 9 & 10 – All Around the World

13 Jan

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Song of the Post – Portrait in Black and Blue by King Krule

Hello to all! I hope everyone’s long weekend is off to an amazing start.

Once my conquering-tofu high subsided, I turned to my newly vegan-ized Pinterest page. It was time to start experimenting again! I searched high and low for the perfect recipe (read: one that lacks crazy veg ingredients) and decided on an incredibly flavorful one that would warm me up. Tortilla soup! This particular version includes all types of vegetables, creating an absolutely beautiful and colorful meal. The variety of veggies also keeps this soup from being monotonous – every bite is different. Yellow and red peppers, green celery, fresh cut tomatoes and corn… my mouth is watering just thinking about it! Next time I have to cook for someone, I’m pulling out this recipe.

Another obvious addition to this dish is tortilla chips! After five weeks (when I’m not on this anti-flour diet) I’ll be sure to whip up some tortilla strips. For now, I’m perfectly content with just this piping hot bowl of goodness.

Notes: I switched out zucchini for mushrooms and threw in a coarsely chopped tomato – it did not disappoint. I also added sriracha to the list of ingredients, because I live for spicy!

Tortilla Soup

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cups chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 ear fresh corn (or half cup – 1 cup frozen corn)
  • 1/2 cup green onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp crushed red chili pepper
  • One 15-oz can crushed tomatoes (or 2 medium tomatoes, diced)
  • 1 tbsp sriracha sauce (optional)
  • 1 can chopped green chili peppers, drained (optional)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1.5-2 cups cooked black beans (or beans of choice – I used a tri-color blend)
  • salt & pepper, to taste

In a large pot over medium to low heat, add the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the peppers, zucchini, green onion, and remove corn from cob. Add the veggies into the pot and sauté for another 5-10 minutes.

Add in the crushed tomatoes, cumin, broth, and chia seeds. Stir well and season with salt and pepper. Simmer on low-medium heat for 25-30 minutes.

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This next recipe comes from a lovely girl who sits next to me in my Jan term class. Molly’s blog wannabetrending.wordpress.com is super helpful – she recounts the top 5 trending topics of the day and informs all of us why they’re so important. Check it out!

With all the enthusiasm in the world, Ian (from Young and Hella Vegetarian) and I embarked on another culinary exploration. This time our mission was Palestinian Lentils and Rice. What I didn’t realize is that our mission involved feeding us and five more dudes! These are college boys, mind you, and man are they hungry. Luckily we had plenty of supplies, so we doubled the recipe and ended up more than enough. Let me tell you – cooking for a ton of people can be intimidating, but it’s very inspiring when everything comes together. The boys loved this dish, and I never got tired of all the ‘compliments to the chef’!

We all agreed: the key to this meal is ONION. Lots and lots (and possibly even more) sautéed onion is what makes this dish pop. The rice and lentils combo is hearty, just what we needed on a below-freezing winter night. Mix in some nice, big onion chunks and you’ve got yourself heaven in a bowl. Enjoy – there’s no way you can’t love this meal!

Palestinian Lentils and Rice

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Sauté onions in oil until translucent, or very brown and crisp. Remove onions to a bowl and set aside.

Turn heat to med-high and add lentils and rice; sauté quickly in oil, add cumin and salt and pepper. Add 3 cups of water to rice and lentils and bring to boil. Cover tightly and cook on low heat for 20-25 minutes. Fluff up rice and lentils and top with onions.

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One more thing – the title of this blog post brought me right back to 1997. That’s right baby, I’m talking Sugar Ray.  Have a blast this weekend everybody, and remember that Iiiiii just wanna fly!

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Day 8 – Surprising Successes (& Tofu!)

10 Jan

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Song of the Post –  Cake by Keepaway 

Hey bloggies!

Are you ready for a whirlwind post full of unconventional ingredients and spectacular results?  I trust you are, and here we go!

Starting in the beginning – breakfast.  I subscribe to the weekly newsletter from PCC Natural Markets (my favorite grocery store in the world), and this last week’s edition featured delicious hot cereal options.  Quinoa, almond milk and a sprinkling of raisins come together to create a warm and cozy breakfast, perfect for frosty winter mornings.  Enjoy and be happy from the inside out!

Hot Quinoa Cereal

  • 1/3 cup whole quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk or nut milk
  • 1 /2 cup filtered water
  • Pinch of unrefined salt
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • Generous pinch of pumpkin pie spice (Trader Joe’s brand)

Place all ingredients in a small pot and soak overnight in the refrigerator.

To cook the cereal, place it on the stovetop, covered, on low heat.  Let it simmer slowly for about 20 minutes (up to 1 hour for the rice cereal), stirring occasionally.  Add extra water if the cereal is too thick.  Mix in raisins and pumpkin pie spice and enjoy warm.

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Now that you’re full and happy from a piping hot breakfast, it’s time for a crisp, refreshing lunch.

Here’s a Lauren original – Cucumber Spinach and Guac Pita.  It was so good that I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway done!  The combination of cool cucumber slices, powerful red onion and creamy avocado makes for a perfect midday meal.  Also, I’m a sucker for onions… so I added extra red onion slices on top.  Yum!

Cucumber Spinach and Guac Pita

  • 3 avocados, mashed
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1 whole wheat pita
Mix avocados, onion, tomato and salt to make the guacamole.  Spread guac on pita bread, add cucumbers and spinach.  Munch and enjoy!

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And now, the main event.  Ladies and gentlemen, I conquered one of the most terrifying and misunderstood vegetarian ingredients of all time – TOFU!  After a few hours of research, I decided that there are two things necessary for creating exceptional tofu – it must be baked and it has to have a lot of flavor.  Peas and Thank You is a lovely cooking website, and I’m convinced they have the best tofu marinade recipe of all time!

My fear of tofu has vanished completely after trying this simple and fantastic dish.  Crisp, spicy and colorful – I am seriously shocked at how delicious it was!  The trick is maple syrup.  It gives the tofu an interesting taste mid-bite!  Anyways, I swear by this recipe and encourage everyone to try it out.  Tofu is my friend, and it wants to be your friend too!  Go for it.

Spicy Baked Tofu

  • 3 T. soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s Aminos
  • 1 T. maple syrup (or agave)
  • 3 T. water
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. cumin
  • 1 block of tofu, cut in 1/4 inch thick slices

Prepare your marinade in a large container with a sealable lid by whisking together all ingredients.  Carefully add your tofu. And even more carefully, place the lid on the container and give it a gentle toss.  After at least a couple hours, your tofu should be evenly coated and will have absorbed most of the liquid.

Preheat the broiler and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray or a light mist of oil. Arrange tofu slices on the baking sheet and drizzle any remaining marinade over the top.  Broil the tofu on one side for 5-6 minutes, flip the tofu over and return it to the oven to broil for an additional 5-6 minutes on the opposite side.  Serve as taco filling, on top of salad, or as a meal of its own.

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Days 6 & 7 – Lessons in Flavor

9 Jan

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Song of the Post – DIET MTN DEW by Lana Del Rey

Let me introduce you to my best friends in the kitchen – curry spices.  Ground cumin seeds and turmeric add gorgeous flavor to lentils, soups and rice dishes.  Straight up curry power is another big hitter spice in my repertoire.  I can’t get enough!

“Golden Turmeric does double duty in the kitchen, adding both glorious color and heady flavor to a vast array of dishes. Turmeric is a cousin to ginger root, which accounts for its assertive character.” -Excerpt from Spice Island description

Wow. That’s poetry.

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They might as well be my children.

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You know what else I have a cooking love affair with?  Garlic.  Minced, crushed,or  roasted, this flavorful product is a wonderful addition to all sorts of meals.  If a recipe calls for 3 cloves of garlic, you can bet I’m adding 6.  Here’s an excellent video I found to help with the sticky peeling process.

 

Team Veggie has another dinner planned for this week – stay tuned for delicious recipes!

Best,

Lauren

Days 3 & 4 – Strength in Numbers

6 Jan

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Song of the Post – Runaway by Kanye

Day 3 already? This being vegan thing is a breeze!

…just kidding. It’s really tough, especially when your roommates constantly make delicious and tempting treats like chicken pot pie and chocolate chip cookies. Be strong, Lauren!

Luckily, I have pals to accompany me on this dietary journey. Ian (who also has a blog – youngandhellavegetarian.wordpress.com) and Monte have committed to being vegetarian for the month of January. So, naturally, we joined forces last night to create a healthy and tantalizing meal. I have about one hundred recipes bookmarked for my 6 week challenge, most which involve one of my favorite things – curry!

The chickpea curry was superb. We found out the hard way that brown rice takes ages to cook, but the end result was well worth it. Also, 1/2 cup of chickpeas has 7 grams of protein. Vegans and vegetarians: do not underestimate the power of garbanzo beans!

No matter what dietary restrictions I put on myself in the future, I will always return to this hearty curry recipe.

Best,

Lauren

Chickpea Curry

(As adapted from theveganstoner.blogspot.com)

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of plain soy yogurt
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons curry power
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1/4 cups water

Start cooking the rice.

Toss chopped vegetables, chickpeas, garlic, yogurt and curry power in a pot. Heat on low-medium. When the mixture starts to look dry, add the water. Cook until vegetables are soft. Serve on top of rice.20120106-093746.jpg

Ian, myself and I anticipating the delicious meal!

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Days 1 & 2 – Blind Enthusiasm and Cauliflower Cream Soup

5 Jan

Song of the post – Silvia by Miike Snow

Greetings to the elusive and mystical world of veganism!

This blog will document my fervent attempts at creating scrumptious vegan meals. As a former dairy and meat devotee, I am finding myself astounded by the variety and possibilities that fruits and veggies have to offer.

The specific dietary plan I am embarking on is the 6 week challenge from the Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman, which focuses on eating as much raw foods as possible and eliminating processed foods, sugar, white flour and oils. Although it may sound equally parts terrifying and challenging, but it’s my bold New Year’s resolution and I’m determined to make it nutritious and enjoyable!

I’ll admit it, my first day was rough. First the mountain of fresh fruit for breakfast, and then lunch consisting of a whole head of romaine lettuce with veggies; it seemed like I was doomed to forever crunch. Dinner was much more eventful – Golden Australian Cauliflower Cream Soup! It was hearty and quick, less than 20 minutes cook and prep time. Plus, the combination of cauliflower, carrots and celery is a delicious way to eat nutritious vegetables.

Yesterday, Day 2, turned out to be worlds better!  I prepared an old favorite of mine, but substituted carb-heavy pasta for whole wheat pita bread.  The result was a fantastic (and gorgeous) meal.  Additionally, my online research led me to an excellent non-dairy ranch dip dressing.   What a tasty way to add variety to raw veggies!

Best,

Lauren

Golden Australian Cauliflower Cream Soup

(adapted from Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman)

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Mrs. Dash seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash extra spicy blend for extra flavor)
  • 2 cup carrot juice
  • 4 cup water
  • 2 clv garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 5 cup kale, or organic baby spinach

Cover and simmer all ingredients, and kale or spinach, for 15 minutes or until just tender. If kale is being used, steam until tender.

Top individual servings with a handful or two of spinach. Spinach will wilt in hot soup.

Quick Veggie Stuffed Pita

  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • water
  • 1 whole wheat pita pocket

Heat oil in skillet on medium high heat, and cook onion for 5 minutes.  Add peppers and mushrooms, cook until tender.  Transfer vegetables to the pita.  Heat spinach in the same skillet, add a small splash of water and stir until all the spinach is wilted.  Transfer spinach to pita.  (Optional: I spread a decent amount of vegan ranch dip on the pita before adding any veggies – this adds a bit more texture to the dish!)

Ranch Dip

  • 1/2 block tofu
  • 1/4 cup unflavored soy milk
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients.  Serve with raw veggies.

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