Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Eggplant Balls

One of my all time favorite recipes, that is ALWAYS a hit with anyone who tries them.  Makes for a great Sunday dinner!  Double the recipe for a crowd.  They go fast.

Eggplant Balls
Kid Friendly, nut free, soy free, vegan, gluten free variation
makes approximately 30 balls

1 large eggplant, peeled & diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp flax meal
1/4 cup cold water
1 ½-2 ½  cup breadcrumbs (use GF breadcrumbs or almond meal for Gluten free balls)*
1 ½  cup great northern beans (or any white bean) (1 15 oz. can), drained & rinsed
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
salt & pepper

In a small cup, add flax meal and water.  Stir and let chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the rest.  This will be your egg replacer.

 Peel and dice eggplant.  Heat olive oil in a skillet.  Sauté garlic and eggplant.  Add about 2 Tbsp of water.  Cover and simmer until eggplant is very soft.  Drain any excess water.

Preheat oven to 400ºF

In a bowl or food processor,  mash/process the beans.  Add eggplant and mash/process as well.  Add remaining ingredients including the chilled flax meal & water.  Start by adding 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs. Add more breadcrumbs if mixture seems loose.  Mix well.  Shape into 1- 1 ½" balls.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place balls on baking sheet and lightly drizzle with some olive oil.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400ºF, turning after 15 minutes.

Add to your favorite italian tomato sauce.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Chickpea Chorizo

Tucson, AZ

Chickpea Chorizo

With the right spices combined with the right textures, you can easily recreate so many dishes into much healthier, plant-based versions, without losing any of the flavor you love.   Chorizo is all about the spices!  Combined with the texture of crushed chickpeas, you can trick all of your skeptics into eating this healthier, gluten free, protein-packed version.

*note- pay close attention to the teaspoon or tablespoon measurements for an accurate spice combination

Chickpea Chorizo
gluten free, nut free, soy free, cholesterol free, vegan 

3 cups (or 2 15 oz. cans) drained chickpeas
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
Chorizo Seasoning 
½ cup water
¼ cup Red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 ½ Tbsp smoked paprika
1 ½ Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp oregano
½ tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground chipotle
½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional for heat)
1 ½ tsp sea salt

In a small bowl, add all Chorizo seasoning ingredients from water down to sea salt.  Stir well to combine into a thick paste.  Set aside.  

In another bowl, smash chick peas with a fork to break them into crumbles, or pulse in a food processor keeping them chunky, making sure not to let it get too fine.  

In a large pot or pan over med-high heat, heat the olive oil.  Add onions and smashed chickpeas.  Sauté about 10 minutes, stirring with a spatula, until the chickpeas start to get golden brown.  Add the chorizo paste and stir well to combine.  Turn heat to low and cook another 5 minutes.  

Try using this chorizo in your next chili or tofu scramble!  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ultimate Vegan Huevos Rancheros

Corn tortillas loaded with crispy roasted potatoes, scrambled "huevos", black beans, and onion. It is smothered in fresh, homemade enchilada sauce and topped with avocado.  This is a perfect weekend breakfast or brunch.  It's also naturally gluten free!

Whole Foods Plant Based Huevos #vegan #glutenfree #huevosrancheros
Ultimate Vegan Huevos Rancheros

Note:  I use Whole Foods brand organic corn tortillas or Food For Life brand sprouted organic corn tortillas.  They are both organic, non GMO and have minimal ingredients and no preservatives.  If you've ever read labels on a package of corn tortillas, they are usually packed with preservatives and unfamilair ingredients.  

Ultimate Vegan Huevos Rancheros
serves 4-6
Gluten free, Vegan

For the potatoes:
4 cups diced potato (¼-½  inch cubes)
1/8 c olive oil
¾ tsp sea salt
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp black pepper
8 corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 425º.  In a bowl, toss all ingredients except tortillas together and stir until the potatoes are coated well.  Spread potatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring at 10 minutes. Stir again.  Spread tortillas on baking sheet over the potatoes and bake another 10-15 minutes until crispy.

For the enchilada sauce:
3 cups diced tomato
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1tsp oregano
½ cup water
dash cayenne pepper (optional, for heat)

In a pot, cook on low, stirring occasionally. 20-30 minutes.

For the Huevos:
2 cups diced onion
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup firm tofu, crumbled by hand
1 can or 1 ½ cups black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 Tbsp water
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ - ½ tsp sea salt
1 avocado,  sliced

In a pan, medium heat, heat oil.  Add onion, and cook about 5 minutes until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients except avocado, stirring to combine well.  Cook unil hot.

Assemble as a stack per person.  1 Corn tortilla on bottom, spoon on some sauce,  add a scoop of huevos mixture, another tortilla, more sauce, potatoes on top.  Garnish with avocado.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Tofu & Mushroom Piccata

Tucson, AZ

A delicious alternative to a classic Italian dish, that is also gluten free and vegan!  This dish is all about the sauce, so you can replace any veggies or meat substitutes and make a piccata with them.  I use tofu because it takes on the flavors of the lemon and white wine beautifully.  Mushrooms add a nice texture and pair well with the sauce.

Tofu & Mushroom Piccata

Tofu & Mushroom Piccata
serves 4-6 
gluten free, nut free, vegan

1 package extra firm tofu, drained
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
½ cup cornstarch (i recommend finding a cornstarch labeled non GMO if possible)
¼ cup nutritional yeast
Juice & zest of 1 lemon about ⅓ cup lemon juice
¼ dry white wine
¼ cup capers, drained
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp of margarine, or lightly salted olive oil
sea salt & black pepper to taste
fresh parsley and red pepper flakes for garnish

Preheat oven 200º F.
Cut tofu into ½ inch thick slices.  Lay slices flat on a paper towel, and another paper towel on top of them.  Press to absorb as much moisture as you can.  Set aside.

In a bowl, mix together cornstarch, nutritional yeast, salt & pepper.  Set aside 2 Tbsp of the mixture for the sauce.  Dredge the slices of tofu and mushrooms in the remainder of the mixture in the bowl.  Coat well, and set aside.

Heat oil in a nonstick pan on medium-high.  Dredge the tofu a second time in the cornstarch mixture, and add to the hot pan.  Add mushrooms.  Fry the tofu on each side 3-5 minutes, until everything is golden brown.  Remove tofu & mushrooms from pan (leaving some oil in the pan) and keep warm on a cookie sheet or piece of foil in the oven while you make the sauce.

While the pan is still hot, add the 2 Tbsp of cornstarch mixture, add the lemon juice, zest, wine and capers. Stir with a soft spatula until it thickens.  Remove from heat, and swirl in the margarine.

Drizzle sauce onto the tofu & mushrooms.  Garnish with parsley and red pepper flakes.
Excellent served over rice or pasta.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Baked Ziti

Tucson, AZ

Baked ziti is a traditional Italian-American family dish.  Basically it is a casserole of pasta, sauce, and cheese.  Most often it is served on special occasions, probably because it requires some time and some love. It is one of my first food memories,  and it reminds me of family gatherings, my mother, my grandparents,  and the comforts of home.  It was very important to me to recreate this dish keeping those nostalgic flavors intact.  Taking years to perfect, I believe this recipe can fool anyone,  (including your Italian grandmother!) into thinking they are eating the traditional dish.

Baked Ziti
Kid Friendly, Vegan
serves 4-6

1 lb Ziti Pasta (Penne or Rigatoni would make good substitutes)
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 cups Homemade Tomato Sauce (recipe below)
1 cup firm tofu, pressed of most liquid and crumbled by hand or with a fork
1 ½ cups Homemade "Moxarella" (recipe below)
½ Tbsp fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375º.
Cook pasta until just before al dente.  Drain and stir in olive oil immediately to keep pasta from sticking.  Add 2 ½ cups of sauce and the crumbled tofu.  Stir well to combine.
In a glass 9x13"casserole dish, ladle ½ cup of the sauce on the bottom.  Spread to coat the bottom of the dish with sauce.  Add half of the pasta/tofu/sauce mixture and spread out evenly in the casserole dish.  Spread of half of the "Moxarella" evenly across the top of the pasta.  Add the rest of the pasta mixture.  Spread the rest of the "Moxarella" across the top.  Cover the casserole dish with foil.  Bake 35-45 minutes.  Sprinkle parsley on top.  Serve hot.

You can make the cheese and sauce a day or two in advance to save time.

For the Sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup fennel, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup red wine
½ cup water
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp fennel seed
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp garlic powder

In a pot, over med/high heat, heat oil.  Ad onion and fennel.  Sauté for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté another 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally.

For the "Moxarella"
This recipe is not mine, but i've made it multiple times and it is great!  

¼ cup raw cashews (soaked in water for several hours and then drained IF you don’t have a high powered blender)
1 cup hot water
2  tablespoons + 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
1 small garlic clove, minced
¾ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender or food processor until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly over medium high heat. After a couple of minutes the mixture will start to look like it’s curdling or separating. This is totally normal, reduce heat to medium and KEEP stirring so you don’t burn the cheese to the bottom of the pot. Keep cooking and stirring til really thick (about 2–3 more minutes) and the mixture becomes like a cohesive mass of melted dairy cheese that stretches. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.

Click the link below for the
Original "Moxarella" Recipe

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chili Dog Cheese Fries

Tucson, AZ

Aside from all things pumpkin and pie related (I seriously have a problem with all the pumpkin pie I've been eating!) , October is a very inspiring month for cooking.  I joke that it feels like fall here in Tucson, but after the hottest summer I've ever experienced, like over 100º every day since friggin' May! The upper 80ºs are truly refreshing.  Like a crisp autumn day, haha.

One of the first things I start to think about in the fall is a big pot of  chili.  My chili recipe has changed many many times in the past few years.  This one is my newest recipe.  It is kind of a comfort food extravaganza, and is straying a little from my usual food rules, as it is not completely from scratch.  BUT what if I used (veg) hotdogs as the "meat" in my chili?  Answer: Chili dog chili.  So now, what if I want to take it a couple of gluttonous steps further, and put it on fries?  With cheese?  Boom.  Chili Dog Cheese Fries.

Chili Dog Cheese Fries

These homemade, oven-roasted, fries are delicious on their own, so be sure to give them a try!

For the Fries:
Kid Friendly, Vegan, Gluten free (the fries only, not the chili)
serves 4

6 yukon gold potatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ -1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425º.  Peel and cut potatoes into shoestring fry shape. In a bowl or plastic bag, coat fries with oil and all seasonings.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  ( For an RV oven, half the recipe, or bake each sheet separately.)  Spread fries in a single layer on the parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake 30 minutes, turning fries every 10 minutes.

For the Chili Dog Chili:
Kid Friendly, Vegan
serves 4

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
4 vegan hotdogs*, chopped small
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
2 plum tomatoes, diced
½ tsp sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
1 cup Daiya** cheddar

*Vegan hotdogs can be easily found in most grocery stores, usually in the refrigerated part of the produce section.

**Daiya is a brand of vegan cheese.  You can sub with any vegan cheese of choice.  I like Daiya because it is non GMO, it melts, and tastes better than most store bought vegan cheeses.

In a large nonstick pan, heat oil over med high heat.  Sauté onion for 5 minutes.  Add peppers, hotdogs, chili powder, and liquid smoke.  Sauté another 5 minutes.  Add beans, tomatoes, salt, paprika, and garlic powder.  Sauté another 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the cheese until it melts.

Spoon chili over fries, and garnish with cilantro and more cheese if you like.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Acorn Squash Boats

with Gluten Free Apple Pecan Stuffing

Happy fall!  This is one of my favorite seasonal dishes.  Guilt free and packed with plant-based protein in the form of quinoa stuffing.  So tasty!

Acorn Squash Boats

serves 4
gluten free, vegan

Cut 2 small acorn squash in half lengthwise. Remove seeds.  Cook halves in boiling salted water for 5 minutes.  Place squash cut side down in a shallow baking dish.  Bake at 350º for 30 minutes.  

For the stuffing: 

Gluten Free Apple Pecan Stuffing
serves 4-6
gluten free, kid friendly, vegan, easy

¾ cup quinoa, rinsed with cold water
¼ white rice  (I used basmati) *can substitute brown rice, but add 15-20 minutes to cook time
1 ¾ cup water
1/8 cup tamari (can sub soy sauce though not gluten free)
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup onion, chopped
⅓ cup pecans
1 apple, peeled, core removed, and chopped
¼ c raisins or dried cranberries
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1/8 tsp dried sage
½ tsp dried parsley
¼ tsp thyme
¼ tsp celery seed (or 1-2 stalks of celery, chopped)

In a large pot, bring water, tamari, and olive oil to a boil.  Lower heat and stir in all other ingredients.  Cover and simmer on low, 40 minutes.  Make sure rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Turn squash cut side up.  Spoon in stuffing.  Bake at 350º about 20 minutes more.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tofu Scramble

Tofu Scramble

  People are always asking me what I eat for breakfast.  Though cereals and smoothies might be the easiest breakfasts for most vegans,  living in the RV limits me a bit more than it does others.  I have no room for an awesome blender.  I don't buy soy milk, almond milk, etc, because basically, i cannot fit large containers in my tiny RV fridge! We are talking about 6 cubic feet here.  Not much to work with.  The RV fridge is packed with fresh produce, a few condiments, maybe some tempeh, tofu, and well....that's it. So I usually go with a super fast and easy veggie and tofu scramble.

  Tofu texture is very similar to the consistency of scrambled eggs.  It takes on the flavor of whatever you season it with.  If you are new to tofu, here are a few tofu tips.  Tofu comes in a block.  There are options of firmness.  If you like your eggs softly scrambled, go with a soft tofu.  If you like eggs scrambled well, go with extra firm.  And if you are somewhere in-between, go with medium or firm.  Silken tofu is best for smoothies or blending into liquid.  I always make sure my tofu is certified organic to avoid GMO soybeans.  Tofu is very easy to find.  Usually in the refrigerated produce section of any grocery store.  If you don't use the whole package at once, store opened unused portion in a covered container filled with water in the refrigerator.  It will last a few days, but water should be dumped and changed out each day.  It can also be patted dry, cut up, and frozen.  Thawed out tofu has a spongier texture than tofu that hasn't been frozen, so keep that in mind.

This is a very fast and simple recipe!  I recommend prepping everything in advance (measuring, washing, crumbling, and mincing) before turning on the stove.  Cook time is only a few minutes.  

Tofu Scramble
serves 2-4
Easy, gluten free, Kid Friendly, nut free, dairy free, One pot, Quick Meals, vegan

veggies of your choice- I used broccoli and mushrooms  (lightly cooked and set aside)
1 package of tofu (12-14oz) drained, patted dry, and crumbled with your hands
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
¼ sea salt
4 Tbsp water
Sauté veggies on medium heat for no more than 3 minutes.  Overcooked veggies are never good!  Undercook (or use raw), remove from heat,  and set aside.

In a pan on medium heat, add olive oil & garlic.  Sauté 1 minute.
Add sea salt, crumbled tofu, turmeric, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and nutritional yeast.  Stirring with a spatula, slowly add water to combine.
Add cooked veggies. Stir continuously for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Brief Chat about Nutrients, Carbs, and Gluten

Strawberry Salad 
Organic strawberries, spinach, arugula, carmelized onion, fennel, walnuts, daikon radish, fresh herbs, homemade balsamic dressing

All food is made up of 3 macronutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.   Our bodies need all three.  Protein for growth, muscle, and tissue repair.  Fat for absorbing vitamins, energy, and maintaining cell membranes.

Carbohydrates are our main source of fuel.  They are necessary for proper function of the muscles, kidneys, brain, nervous system, immune system, and intestines.   Fiber is an important type of carb to aid in digestion, decrease risk of disease, and lower cholesterol.  

Avoiding carbohydrates for weight loss or disease prevention such as diabetes and heart disease is dangerous.  It can make the body ill due to nutrient deficiency.  Choosing healthy carbohydrates is easy, and should be the bulk of every meal.  Choose whole vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.  Always avoid highly processed and refined foods and stay away from refined sugar.  This will keep your body healthy and maintain a healthy weight. 

Gluten is NOT a carb.  It is a protein found in wheat.  Some bodies do not respond well to gluten and develop allergies to it.  This is not a reason to avoid carbohydrates, it is a reason to avoid wheat, if your body has a negative reaction to it.  Whole grains such as wheat berries contain gluten, but often don’t affect people with gluten allergies.  Avoid refined wheat products (even wheat bread!) and choose whole grains and sprouted grains.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lentil Arugula Panzanella Salad

Tucson, Arizona

Lentil Arugula Panzanella Salad

Spring is in the air!  The desert is in bloom.  It's a beautiful day in Tucson.  Weather like this makes me crave panzanella.  An Italian-style bread salad with peppery arugula and hearty lentils, combined with a lemony, feta-like tofu cheese.

Lentil Arugula Panzanella Salad
vegan, nut-free
serves 2

4 cups arugula
wedge of lemon
Lentils (recipe below)
Bread (recipe below)
tofu feta (recipe below)

Split arugula onto 2 plates.  Drizzle with lemon.  Add lentils, bread, and tofu feta.

Tofu feta:
½ cup firm tofu, drained and pressed, crumbled
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
dash dill
dash oregano

Add all in a small bowl, stir to combine.  Set aside in the refrigerator to chill and marinate.

For the Bread:
2 slices of thick cut bread
1-2 tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Let slices of bread dry out on a paper towel for about a ½ hour (or use day old bread, bread going stale).  Cut bread into 1inch squares.
Drizzle each square with olive oil, and sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Toast in oven or toaster oven, turning once until crispy and golden brown.  You can also opt to pan fry them over med-high heat until crispy and golden brown.

For the lentils:
1 cup green lentils, rinsed
4 cups water
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil

In a pot, boil water.  Ad lentils and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain well.  Transfer to a small bowl.  Stir in garlic powder, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dal Makhani with Basmati Rice

Tucson, Arizona
Stormy sunset and rainbow in Tucson

Well we have had quite the mild winter here in Tucson, compared to the rest of the country, (polar vortex) oh my!!  My RV as of now is not made for cold weather, so the southwest is where I will call home for awhile.  We did have 1 stormy day since I've been here where the temps dropped a little.  Immediately, I got excited for this warm comforting dish.  As a vegetarian, Dal Makhani was my go to Indian food choice.  I figured it was surely time to veganize the recipe, as it usually contains cream and ghee.  This is a much healthier version without losing the flavor.  Containing lentils, beans, and nuts, this is a plant powered, protein packed, bowl of deliciousness.  Enjoy!

Creamy Vegan Dal Makhani with Basmati Rice

Dal Makhani with Basmati Rice
serves 4-6
gluten-free, vegan

1 onion, chopped
4 clove garlic, minced
1 chili pepper, sliced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 ½ cups water, divided
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala
½ cup black lentils
½ cup raw cashews
½ cup kidney beans
3 plum tomatoes, diced
½ cup basmati rice
½ cup cashews
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp unrefined sugar
handful fresh cilantro

First, soak cashews by covering them in very hot water.  Let them soak while you prepare everything else.  About an hour.

In a large pot over medium heat, add ½ cup water, olive oil, garlic, chili pepper, onion, and ginger.  Sauté about 10 minutes. 

 Add 2 ½ cups water, chili powder, garam masala, cumin seeds, and lentils.  Cover & cook 10 minutes.  

Add tomatoes and rice.  Cover, cook 30 minutes. 

While that is cooking, Process or blend cashews (soaked and drained) with ½ cup of water. Blend until smooth. 

 After the 30 minutes of cooking, add cashew creme. Stir in sea salt and sugar.  

Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Spicy Rice & Beans

Tucson, AZ

A delicious, easy, healthy, and spicy one pot meal. 

RVegan Spicy Rice & Beans
serves 2
gluten free, vegan

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion chopped
1 tsp minced habanero pepper (substitute chile pepper of your preference)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup beans, drained and rinsed (i used black and kidney mixed)
¼ cup chopped tempeh (optional)
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup cooked rice
1 lime
handful of fresh cilantro
generous pinch of the following: chili powder, smoked paprika, paprika, oregano, cumin, cumin seed, salt

Cook the onion and habanero in the oil 5 min over medium high, lower temp to meduim & add everything else, except rice, lime, and cilantro. Cook 10 more minutes. Stir in cooked rice. Squeeze juice of 1 lime over top and stir. Serve hot. Garnish with fresh cilantro.