Sunday, October 12, 2014

Come on Over

What a difference 2.5 years make!

I hope people are still visiting this blog as a resource for delicious and easy vegan creations.  However, my journey has changed a bit, and I'd love to reconnect on my new blog,  Look there for ideas and resources for health, brain-building information and foods.  I'm now on a mission to heal my own brain (and everything connected) and would love some company!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Quickies: Hummus and Baba Ganoush

I am totally in love with Middle Eastern food. And for the veg-centric eater, your nearest Middle Eastern market is a treasure trove of inexpensive, nutrient-rich eadibles. Last week I was very excited to find fresh eggplant in my garden, however picking the fruit was a little tricky. Who knew they have thorns? Ouchy!!!

My new favorite field trip is Middle East Bakery & Grocery, on the far north side of Chicago. On a recent rainy day, I spent over an hour perusing the very organized shelves of the market. Pita bread was still warm in the packages. Shelves were packed with bulk dried fruits, lentils and fresh spices and herbs.

After receiving amazing recipes for hummus and baba ganoush from one of my yoga students, I was anxious to purchase a little tahini on the way home from my garden. I left the market with bread, cookies, olives, yogurt-cucumber dip and fresh pita chips.

Here are two easy and delicious recipes from the dear Rose Karim so you can make you're own snacks. She encouraged me to alter the recipes to suit my taste, and then to be creative with additional ingredients such as red peppers, pine nuts, and artichokes.

Rose's Hummus

1 can of chick peas (rinse) (16 ounce)
1-2 garlic clove
Juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime (limes have no seeds)
¼ cup of water (add more water if necessary… a little at a time or it will be soupy)
¼ cup of tahini sauce (add to taste)
Salt to taste

Olive Oil
Flat Italian parsley leaves to decorate
Pita Bread

Place rinsed chick peas in food processor (or blender*) add all ingredients with 1/2 the water. Add more water, a little at a time, until you reach the consistency you like. Place on platter drizzle with olive oil.

To compliment dish: cut cucumbers, radishes, tomatoes, olives, hot peppers and etc.

**Blenders have a tendency to get stuck – turn off blender and push with spoon or fork adds a little water at a time until it blends.

Traditionally when eating hummus eat from the outside and work your way to the middle of the plate.


1 large eggplant
1 garlic clove crushed
½ juice of lemon or lime
Chopped Italian Flat Parsley ¼ cup (curly is okay the best is Italian flat parsley)
2 – 3 tablespoons of tahini sauce (add to taste)
Salt to taste
2 – 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil to taste

Pita Bread

Preheat oven to 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Wash and pierce eggplant several to times with knife, place on foil, ten place in oven for about one hour. Eggplant will look prune like and soft when done.

For a chunkier texture, follow this method:

Place garlic glove in a bowl with salt and crush. When eggplant is done, peel, place in bowl and smash with fork. Add lemon juice and tahini sauce, and mix well with fork; at the end add chopped parsley. Place on platter drizzle with olive oil.

For smoother texture, follow this method:

Place garlic clove in food processor until smooth. Add with parsley and chopped. Add baked, grilled, peeled eggplant with lemon juice, salt and process or pulse until you reach desire consistency. Place on platter drizzle with olive oil.

Note: Eggplant is extremely hot-- be careful when peeling.

Grill Eggplant instead of oven roast.

You could grill (pierce) eggplant on a grill for that smoky flavor, but you must turn it every ten minutes – always place eggplant on foil. Eggplant is done when it looks prune up and soft when done. Be careful not to over grill the eggplant. It will swivel up quickly and turn charcoal like.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Late Farmer's Market Find

Autumn is my favorite season, and this is one of my favorite things to whip up with the last treasures of my farmer's market. This is total comfort food, and tastes especially great with a glass of wine and a slice of olive bread. Yummy!

Spicy Butternut Squash Risotto with Mushrooms

1 small butternut squash
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1 small onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, sliced thin
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon allspice
1 cup chopped mushrooms
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup Arborio or long-grain rice
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used some leftover Sancerre, but just whatever)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Put halves, cut side down, in a shallow baking pan with about an inch of water in the bottom. Bake squash in middle of oven 20-30 minutes, or until you can pierce easily.

In a saucepan bring broth and water to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer.
In another saucepan cook onion, garlic, and mushrooms in butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened. Stir in rice and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Stir in 1/4 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, and keeping simmering, until absorbed.

Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until about half of broth has been added. Scoop squash into rice and continue simmering and adding broth in same manner until rice is tender and creamy-looking but still al dente, about 18 minutes. Stir in sage and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon risotto into 2 shallow serving bowls and garnish with sage and oodles of parmesan.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grab A Blanket and Pray for Summer!

I know some of my family members are already complaining about the heat and humidity. However, here in Chicago I'm still wearing wool, and cursing the wet snow that is pounding on my just-planted beet shoots!

But tonight, I just couldn't help myself. In an attempt to stay away from sugary desserts, I bought a big, ripe honeydew melon. Where did such a lovely melon come from this time of year? No where close, I can tell you that! But I purchased it anyway. And here is what I did!

1/2 honeydew (or any other small melon would work), seeded and chunked
1/2 cup filtered water
4 mint leaves
1 tsp. lime zest
1 Tbsp. lime oil (I bought this at a regular grocery store, but had to look. If you can't find lime oil, squeeze lime juice and add a splash of walnut oil or something other than olive)

Throw everything in the blender, and zap. Chill, then drink with a sprig of lime and remember the recipe for when it gets really hot and the melons are much closer to town!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Love Soup

I live in the most beautiful city in the world, but there is a price we pay, and it’s called “spring.” You see, we don’t really have spring. We’re famous for our winter, and I love winter, until February. March through May are really pretty trying. All I can really say is, one day it’s snowing, and the next you wake and Michigan Avenue is full of flowers and everyone is showing off their very healthy, albeit, very pale legs!

We do have access to the most beautiful spring vegetables, which gives even the most cynical soul a skip in her step. And so I’ve created my Love Soup. It’s a wonderful brew of light and spicy broth, filled with fresh spring veggies and interlaced with wonderful noodles.

And, if you should happen to be suffering from seasonal allergies, or just the blues, this is a great remedy!

These measurements are not perfect, so trust your taste. This recipe makes 2 big yummy bowls

5 cups water
1 heaping tablespoon of white miso
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 thin stalk of lemon grass, chopped in ½” sections (I had about 1/8 cup)
2 chopped cloves of garlic
1” grated ginger
1 teaspoon chili flakes

Simmer this broth for about 30 minutes on medium heat. Don’t let this get to a rolling boil. Just let is simmer.

½ cup chopped greens (I used Swiss chard, but work with whatever you have)
½ cup chopped asparagus
½ cup sliced mushrooms (I bought a bunch of spring mushrooms at Whole Foods)
½ cup carrots, sliced in matchsticks
Udon noodles (my bag comes in 3 little serving bunches, and I used one)

After about 30 minutes add the veggies. You could totally use any other spring veggie…just make sure they’re fresh and don’t over-cook.

After about 10-15 minutes add the udon noodles.

To serve, add a dash of toasted sesame oil and a splash of rice vinegar. Seriously, so yummy!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Under the Sea…Guide to Underwater Veggies

Goodness knows, I love a seaweed salad as much as the next girl, but beyond that chewy, sweet and sour goodness, I’ve started using various sea vegetables to create things like Caesar salad dressing and mock-tuna salad. The first time I started looking for nori sheets I was amazed by this world of dried “plants,” that seemed very exotic. The truth is, our Canadian neighbors as well as the Irish and northern Europeans use sea vegetables in many dishes.

Besides giving a little salty and sea-taste to dishes, sea vegetables are a source of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and other trace minerals found in the ocean. Once found only at specialty stores, I’ve had no difficulty finding most of these vegetables in the Asian section of my Whole Foods and Dominick’s groceries.

Here are three of my current favorites, but there are many more to check out.

Dulse – this is a red seaweed, sold dried (my experience), in plastic packages. It has a great smoky, salty flavor, and is great crumbled on top of soups or salads.

Fingerling Potatoes with DulseRecipe courtesy of The Conscious Cook, by Tal Ronnen.

12 fingerling potatoes, cleaned and dried
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons regular cashew cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Earth Balance vegan margarine
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 or 2 small pieces dulse
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the potatoes on a baking sheet coated with spray oil and bake for 20 minutes, or until tender. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the horseradish, mayonnaise, cashew cream, and salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the oil in a small nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the dulse and cook, turning once or twice, until crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Watch closely so that it doesn’t burn. Remove the dulse to paper towels, let cool, then break into small pieces.

Cut the cooked potatoes in half lengthwise. Being careful not to burn your fingers, scoop the pulp from each potato with a teaspoon, leaving a thin shell. Place the potato pulp in the bowl with the horseradish mixture and the Earth Balance. Mash together, then fill each potato half with the mixture, mounding slightly. Put the potato halves filling side up on the baking sheet.

Sprinkle the potatoes with paprika, return to the oven, and bake for 10 more minutes. Garnish with the chives and crisped dulse.
Makes 24 pieces; 12 servings of fingerling potatoes as a vegetarian and vegan appetizer.

Kombu – (or dried kelp) the lovely dark green or aubergine color of this vegetable would be lovely as a garnish, but the flavor is a great add to soups, stews and sauces. Like the dulse, kombu typically comes dried, but can be soaked to rehydrate for cooking.

Caesar Salad Dressing

3/4 cup cashews, divided
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbs white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1 tbs miso
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 cloves garlic
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs kombu, chopped (about 1 folded strip)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, very finely minced

Combine 1/2 cup cashew nuts with the lemon juice and vinegar in a blender and blend to a cream. Add the water, miso, dijon mustard, garlic and olive oil and blend thoroughly. Add the kombu to a spice grinder (or coffee grinder) and grind as best you can. Then add the remining 1/4 cup of cashews and grind to a powder. Add to the blender and blend to combine. Then add the minced olives and pulse, just to combine. Pour into containers and refrigerate. It will thicken as it cools. Makes about 2 cups.

Wakame – This gray-green vegetable can be eaten raw or be soaked and cooked. But, be ready as wakame expands several times after you soak it. Most seaweed salads include soaked wakame. It's wonderful and has a pleasant, chewy feel. I love it!

Wakame with Brown Rice

2 1/4 cups water
1 cup brown rice
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon dried wakame seaweed flakes
2 cups water
1 ripe avocado, diced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds

Bring water, brown rice, and salt to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Soak wakame in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes; drain in a mesh strainer. Scoop rice into a bowl, and gently fold in wakame, avocado, and sesame seeds. Serve warm or cold with a little rice vinegar and/or Thai chili sauce.

Last, but not least, I found Kelp Noodles, and they had this great recipe for a simple salad. Check it out for more ideas.


Kelp Noodles
Honey Mustard Dressing (or, I used a ready-made ginger dressing)
Cucumbers, sliced
Carrots, sliced
Apples, thinly sliced
(I added some left-over purple cabbage and bok choy)
Salt, to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Salt to taste.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Eating Clean - Day 3

Like so many folks concerned with mindful eating and healthy lives, a few members of my family have embarked on Dr. Alejandro Junger's 21-day lifestyle program, outlined in his book, Clean. I've jumped on the detox-bandwagon before, with limited success. I get bored, or don't feel well, and I love to eat a variety of foods, so I give up.

Many might ask why someone who is clearly pretty aware of her eating habits would need to detox. Good question. I have vices. I have many, but with regard to my health and welfare, the culprits are sugar, alcohol, coffee and processed foods. I "get" that these are not so horrible, and I don't beat myself up about it. But, I know my body works and feels better when I eliminate these things from my diet (or limit them), and yet, for some reason I still find myself floating into the cupcake store and CRAVING real cheese for breakfast, over a nice bowl of oatmeal. I want a cocktail so badly around 4pm....I just can't tell you. (mind you, I don't want 4-5...just 1!) And my freezer was filled with wonderful vegetarian frozen dinners. Though great for occasional convenience, I was popping one in the microwave every evening, after teaching yoga.

And my coffee intake, though not enormous, has truly become my "crack." I refer to my trip to Starbucks as "my dealer," or tell someone I need, "a fix," or "hit." And now, after just 3 days of going without coffee, I see why those terms feel so comfortable to me.

I have a headache. I feel really chilly, as I'm sure my blood pressure is just above dead. I don't have much of an apatite, and feel a bit depressed. Trust me, I have NOTHING to be depressed about. My life is a big fat 10 at the moment, and this slump is getting in my way.

Coffee-slump aside, the soups, juices and smoothie recipes given in the Clean book are totally easy and filling. Last night I made a big batch of the butternut squash bisque, and topped it with fresh parsley, pumpkin seeds and chilie oil. Wonderful on a very cold night.

If you consider going on the 21 day cleanse, don't worry about hunger pangs. You'll be fine. And all this drama I'm experiencing around my coffee is totally normal...I checked with the doctor, assuming I had the flu. I'll be all good by Monday.

Will keep you posted on my progress! TGIF