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HAVE A HEART: Artichoke 101

3 Nov

How to pick and prepare an artichoke perfectly EVERY time.

But first, did you know…

…that artichokes are extremely high in nutrients and very low in calories?  (A medium choke has roughly 60 calories and is jam-packed with magnesium, potassium, vitamin C,  iron, and fiber)  Did you know that artichokes are also good for liver health and can help to soothe digestion??? Artichokes are normally in their peak from March-June, but sometimes you can find decent ones when it’s not prime time. Eat up!

How to pick em:

Even Green.

Tight Leaves.

Firm and Heavy.

If you squeeze the choke and it squeaks, that’s a good sign as well.

I also think that one of the most important thing when buying artichokes is finding ones with thick stems. Sometimes the stems even taste really good, so throw them in the pot with your chokes and give them a shot. 

Remember this little mantra next time you are on a choke hunt:

The bigger the stem, the bigger the heart

The bigger the heart, the meatier each part

Preparation:

Chop of the stems as close to the bottom of the choke as you can, then cut about 1.5-2″ off the top of the choke. Trim the leaves and top of choke.

Rinse the artichoke well

Place your steaming basket inside a large pot with about ½ inch of HOT water covering the bottom. Place artichokes leaves down(stem-side up) into the basket and cook covered on medium high heat for 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat, take the lid off the pot, and let the chokes sit for 5-10 minutes (still upside-down) in the steamer basket…this allows all excess water o drain

Stab them with a fork, put them on a plate, and enjoy with butter!!

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30-DAY VEGAN CHALLENGE: Week Four

19 Oct

Well, I made it.  Sorry for not blogging last week…I have been SO BUSY with my new job 🙂 It’s vegan week 4,  and right now I see no reason to stop.  I haven’t counted calories in a month which has been AMAZING, and I feel generally lighter, happier, and healthier. Getting brunch this past Sunday in Fort Collins was a total pain, but that aside it has been pretty easy being a vegan in Denver, Colorado.

Breakfast Fun:

Vegan Potato, Green Chilli, and Black Bean Burritos

Lunch:

Same ole story…LEFTOVERS!

Dinners:

Vegan Quiche with Lemony Cucumber, Almond, and Arugula Salad

Barbecue Seitan, Broccoli and Bok Choy with Quinoa and Artichoke

Spinach Linguine with Zucchini, Portabellos, and Tomatoes in Edamame Pesto

Vegan Pizza: vegan cheese (Daiya), sautéed mushrooms and sweet onion, organic tomato sauce, and homemade olive and kale tapenade

Noteworthy Sweet Treats:

hehe, that’s right….animal crackers…nomnom

30-DAY VEGAN CHALLENGE: Week Three

6 Oct

The third week has come to an end and I feel even better than last week. I feel lighter (lost 5lbs) and definitely have more energy. I feel healthy, I really do. One negative-i feel like i’m running out of recipes and ideas. This week I experimented with tempeh…it came out really good. This coming week I’m going to give seitan a shot. I’ll keep you all posted!!

The books that have been inspiring me:

This is what my fridge looks like after a weekend of grocery shopping vegan-style 😉

Breakfast this week:

English muffin and peanut butter, oatmeal with almonds and raisins, english muffin and avocado with tomato

Lunches:

Leftovers!!! My favorite lunch was a wrap I made with my leftover buffalo tempeh, spring mix, avocado, YUM!

Dinners: See the best from the week below…

Vegan Pad Thai with Toasted Peanuts

Buffalo Tempeh ‘Wings’ with Steamed Asparagus

Mushroom Tibs with Steamed Broccoli and Wild Rice

I have been super busy at work so I will post the recipes this weekend!! If you want them beforehand just send me a message 🙂 Enjoy!

Lentil, Mushroom, and Eggplant Chili Mole

29 Sep

Ingredients:

Thanks again Appetite for Reduction for this great recipe and inspiration!

serves 6, active time 15 minutes, total time 1 hour

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, cut into medium dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into medium dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup dried green lentils, washed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • One (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 package of diced baby bella mushrooms!
  • 2 teaspoons amber agave nectar or pure maple syrup
  • Cilantro, for garnish

Process:

Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and bell pepper in the oil until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute, using nonstick cooking spray or a splash of water if it’s sticking. Mix in the chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Add n cup of the vegetable broth and the cocoa powder, and cook for about 1 more minute while stirring to dissolve the cocoa. 

Add the lentils, remaining vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, and eggplant. Cover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil, keeping a close eye on it. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and the eggplant is soft. Mix in the agave. Taste for salt and seasoning

Let the chili sit for 10 minutes or so for maximum flavor. Serve garnished with cilantro, if you like. 

Serve with Vegan Cornbread  (I added jalapeno and scallions to this recipe for a kick!)

For more Vegan inspiration and recipes, check out my 30-day challenge!

Vegan Week 1

Vegan Week 2

Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach

29 Sep

Below is Isa’s recipe with my tweaks! This is such a great take on lasagna, LOVE!

Ingredients:

serves 6, active time 45 minutes, total time 1 1/2 hours

The Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta:

  • 1 medium-size head cauliflower (11/2 to 2 pounds), chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper 

The Red Sauce:

  • One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme (I also added some fresh chopped  basil)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

To Assemble:

  • 8 ounces lasagna noodles, broken in half, cooked in salted water (I used a peppercorn trio lasagna noodle from Papardelles Pasta in Colorado…next time I’ll try their roasted red pepper lasagna noodle)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach (I also added some fresh kale and roasted garlic cloves and sautéed the spinach and kale first with some onion)
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives 

The Process:

 First, we’ll roast the cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; that way the cauliflower won’t stick. Place the cauliflower on the sheet and drizzle the oil over it. Spray it with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Toss it with your hands to make sure everything is salted. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes, then flip it with a spatula. You don’t have to flip each and every one, so don’t get OCD about it. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned, tender, and toasty. Get your water boiling for your lasagna noodles at the same time you preheat the oven…this will save you prep time.

In the meantime, crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl. Use your hands to mash the tofu, squeezing it between your fingers, until it has the consistency of ricotta cheese. Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining salt. Use a fork to mix well.

When the cauliflower is done, transfer it to the mixing bowl with the tofu mixture. Use a potato masher to mash it really well, for a minute or so. If it doesn’t seem to be mashing enough with the potato masher, a few pulses in the food processor (food processor was how I did it) should get it nice and crumbly. Set aside. 

To prepare the sauce, mix all its ingredients together and set aside.

 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour a thin layer of red sauce on the bottom of an 8-inch square casserole. Line with a layer of noodles. Spread with one-third of the cauliflower ricotta. Layer with 3/4 cup of spinach leaves. Pour on about a cup of sauce.

 Repeat the process one more time, creating another identical layer, starting with the noodles. For the top layer it’s just a little different: Layer with noodles, pour the sauce on first, then layer with ricotta. This layer doesn’t get any spinach. Sprinkle with a (generous) layer of (black) olives and press it into the tofu. 

Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is browned. You can serve it immediately or let it cool down for a bit first, whatever floats your boat! 

 What do you think of this take on cheese????

For more Vegan inspiration and recipes, check out my 30-day challenge!

Vegan Week 1

Vegan Week 2

Coconut Soy Banana Pancakes

15 Sep

This is so easy and such a yummy breakfast option.

Ingredients:

2 c  heart healthy bisquick

2 eggs

splash of mexican vanilla

1 c soy milk

1/2 c sliced bananas

Earth balance coconut spread

Use coconut spread as your oil. Get your pan nice and hot and add a few banana slices to the pan. Pour about 1/4 c batter on top on bananas and wait until the batter starts to bubble. FLIP AND REPEAT!

Re-coconut the pan in between pancakes. Serve with extra banana slices and some maple agave nectar.

Indian Night! Madras Tomato and Eggplant Curry with Onion Kulchas

2 Aug


I love making Indian Food! It’s all about tasting and tweaking. I typically improvise with seasonings and ingredients, and I have yet to follow a recipe to the “T”. Today I made some indian flat breads called kulchas-easy and dont require yeast, some tofu palak paneer (see in my archives), and a dish I created for the first time which I will call a Madras Tomato and Eggplant Curry. It all came out great with plenty of sauce for bread dipping.

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Madras Eggplant and Mushroom Curry

note: with the spices, keep tasting and add or subtract amount to suit YOUR taste buds 🙂 Indian food allows the inexperienced cook some creative liberty and makes cooking more fun!

1 small yellow onion diced
1 small eggplant chopped into small cubes
5-6 diced cremini mushrooms
1/4 c raisins
1-2 TB green chili diced (hatch chillies work great!)
1 TB Madras Curry Seasoning
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garam masala powder
Salt to taste
Top with crunchy toasted almond slivers

Onion Kulchas

Here is the recipe I have used both times I made kulchas.

Onion Kulcha Recipe

I am no baker, but in my opinion this was easy. I have tried both the broil and stovetop method to cook, and the stovetop is the clear winner for me. This past time I broiled my kulchas and they came out too hard and crunchy for my taste. When cooked on the stovetop with a little ghee (clarified butter…you could just use regular butter too)they stay doughy and maleable.

Greek Salad with Summer Salata and Baked Vegan Falafel

1 Aug

For this salad I made the following :

Summer Salata

Baked Vegan Falafels

Tahini dressing

To accompany the salad I bought:

Whole wheat pita bread, hummus, kalamata olives, feta cheese, red onions

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This is a light and delicious dinner, and great for lunches during the work week. Loaded with good protein and monosaturated fat; it is healthy, delicious, and great for a meat-free day.

Baked Falafels
Makes about 16 balls

Preheat oven to 375 and cover your baking sheet with foil and some EVOO spray

1 15 oz can garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)

1/4 c  onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped fine

1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped fine

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

2 TB flour

1 tsp baking  powder

Food process  above ingredients until smooth or mash all ingredients together with a fork (though not entirely, it’s nice to have a little texture) Shape mixture into balls or flatten into small patties and bake about 15 minutes per side in your oven. YUM!

 Greek Vegetable Salad (My Summer Salata)

1 c plum tomatoes, diced

1/2 c red onion, diced

1 c cucumber, diced

1/4 c kalamata olives, minced

1/4 c feta cheese

2 TB mint leaves minced

juice of 1 lemon

splash of red wine vinegar

1 tsp EVOO

Toss all of the above ingredients together and chill until you are ready to serve.

Tahini Dressing

1/2 c tahini (sesame seed paste)

3 cloves garlic

1/2 tsp  salt

2 TB olive oil

1/4 c lemon juice

Food process all ingredients and add water to loosen up the texture as needed. Chill until you are ready to serve.

Roasted Zucchini and Garlic Soup

18 Jul

Serves 2(with leftovers)

3-4 zuchinnis (I used a variety from the farmers market, see picture above)

9 cloves of peeled garlic

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

4 cups of organic chicken stock

2 TB fresh chopped basil

S+P+ginger powder

2 TB Earth Balance olive oil butter

Cornstarch to thicken

Preheat oven to 425

Cut up squash into big chunks, peel garlic, and lay them on a baking sheet. Drizzle vegetables with EVOO, salt, pepper, and a little ginger powder. Roast in your oven for 40 minutes.

When the vegetables in the oven have about 5 minutes to go, chop up your onion and sautee in a deep pan with a little EVOO until translucent. Once vegetables are cooked, take them out of the oven, chop them up, and add to the pan with the onions. Add your chicken broth and chopped  basil into the same pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove mixture from the heat and food process it in batches until smooth. Put mixture back into your pan and season with S+P if neccesary. If  you would like your soup a bit thicker, take  about a cup of soup and place in a small side bowl. Whisk in 1TB of cornstarch, and then return the thickened liquid to the main soup pot and bring to a boil. This method will prevent any lumps from getting into the soup. Also, bringing it to a boil is key to the thickening process, so make sure you do this first before adding more cornstarch. Finish soup off by whisking in about 2TB of earth balance olive oil spread(optional).

I served this with brie cheese and a loaf of sage & sea salt bread from the Crested Butte farmer’s market

Ratatouille with Polenta Cakes and Baby Arugula Salad

4 Apr


Well, one of my favorite Pixar movies of all time (perhaps ever) was on last night, and inspired my meal creation for the evening. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a cartoon before and gotten so hungry, but Ratatouille does it to me every time! It was the perfect kind of gloomy day to labor in the kitchen, and this turned out so delicious, healthy, and comforting. I had never made ratatouille before, so I combined a few recipes to come up with a version that sounded best to me.

I had an eggplant in the fridge that needed to be used, so that got shuffled into the mix. It gave the dish a velvety depth that was sooo good, and I can’t imagine ratatouille without! Some recipes call for parmesan cheese in the casserole, but I think some goat cheese crumbled on top is all you need.

Adapted from: http://www.smittenkitchen.com

PREHEAT OVEN to 375

What you will need:
1 thin zucchini
1 thin yellow squash
½ eggplant
1 long thin red pepper, take out core and keep intact so you are able to slice pretty red rings

Slice all vegetable above with a knife about 1/16 of an inch

12oz crushed tomatoes (Use the best you can find since this is a huge part of the dish, I used Delallo tomatoes from Italia and they were great)
4 cloves of garlic sliced thin
½ yellow onion, diced
1 TB Herbs de Provence
Sea S + P
2 TB EVOO
Fresh thyme
Goat Cheese Crumbles (after its done, sprinkle the cheese on top…not to be baked into dish)

Lightly grease pan with 1 TB EVOO. Pour in tomato sauce, garlic, and chopped onion. Season with Herbs de Provence, S+ P
On top of tomato mixture begin to arrange your sliced vegetables, alternating vegetable, concentrically around the outside edge of your baking dish. Overlap them slightly (see picture) to create a pretty pattern. Get creative!

Drizzle top of casserole with last TB of EVOO and sprinkle with Salt, Pepper, and thyme Cover with parchment paper and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes

SERVE WITH:

Polenta Cakes
I just bought a package of organic polenta by Food Merchants. It’s good and easy. Pan fry until warm and crispy on the outside!
http://www.amazon.com/Food-Merchants-Organic-Tradtional-18-Ounce/dp/B000LKYX9S

Simple Arugula Salad

3 c baby Arugula
½ c Sliced English cucumber
2 TB sliced toasted almonds
1 lemon wedge
Splash of EVOO (to taste)
Splash of Mirin (to taste)

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