Food, Vegan Recipes

Serenity Salad: Kale, Avocado, Tomatoes & Polenta

Yum
Too beautiful to eat. But I ate it anyway.

I’ve never been a huge fan of salads – unless it was a Caesar salad with lots of dressing. And if we’re really being truthful here, the the only reason I ate Caesar salads to begin with was to eat Caesar dressing.  In the past, I would buy Romaine lettuce or baby spinach because I knew I “should” eat salad.  But because I hated salad, the lettuce would inevitably go bad.

Since I began my veganish journey, I made a conscious decision to embrace all of my food preferences.  Instead of trying to force myself to like things I did not like, I simply paid attention to what my body craved.  I turned walking through the produce section into a spiritual and sensual experience.  I would literally stand in front of the piles of fruits and vegetables and practice conscious breathing until it became evident what I wanted to get.  I listened to my soul’s urge as I gazed intently at mangoes and rainbow chard.  I noticed that there were certain things I’d never tried before – some vegetables I didn’t even know the names of.  I paid attention to what I felt attracted as I mindfully touched and smelled cabbages, baby bok choy, tomatoes and radishes.  I looked at other people’s vegan recipes and asked my Twitter followers for grocery shopping advice.  When they mentioned items that piqued my curiosity, I’d try them.  If something didn’t resonate, I didn’t bother.

With regard to salads, I began to notice that I was not against all salads per se – I was against most of the salads I had made – and eaten – in the past.  I was dismayed with unimaginative salads, salads where the vegetables were not cut up into bite-sized appetizing portions, salads that were bland.  But as I became more conscious about my eating, I began to notice that there were often salads that looked and tasted quite delicious to me at restaurants or friend’s homes.  What made them so good?  Well, the house salad at my favorite Thai place incorporated delicious dressings with ingredients I love (like ginger) along with tiny bits of tofu.  Why did I like the tofu?  Well, it added a bit of dimension and texture to the dish.  Thinking about texture is particularly important for a plant based diet.  When you give up meat, you have to think more carefully about getting various degrees of crunch and chewiness into your food.  I began to see that many of my favorite vegetarian and vegan dishes in restaurants and recipes added texture with fried tofu, nuts, crunchy bits like chia seeds, peppers and so on.

So little, by little, I began to find a path toward salads that I could not only live with, but deeply enjoy.  Being a Condiment Queen means I must have sauces, spices, herbs, dressings and tiny bits on hand that I enjoy.  I realized that I really love salad leaves (cooked or raw) when they are drizzled with lemon juice.  A sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper also makes me my mouth happy.  I also began to notice that the reason I hated most salads is because most of them are cold. I tend to like my vegetables a bit warm.  I’m not sure why, it’s just the way I am.  So in the spirit of giving myself what I want, I whipped up this half-cold, half-hot Serenity Salad, made with raw avocado and tomatoes layered over grilled kale and polenta.

Marinated tomatoes
Baby Roma tomatoes chillin’ in ACV, sea salt and lemon juice

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 2 baby Roma tomatoes
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 avocado
  • 3-4 handfuls of kale
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • polenta
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

 

Grilled kale
Be careful to grill your kale on low to medium heat and stir often to avoid overcooking.

Directions

1) Marinate organic Roma tomatoes in apple cider vinegar, freshly squeezed lemon juice, along with sea salt and black pepper. Chop up one avocado. Set aside.

2) In a large skillet, grill four handfuls of chopped kale in EVOO with fresh garlic over low to medium heat. Stir frequently to avoid burning the leaves. Season to taste and set aside.

3) Slice up two servings of polenta, grill in EVOO.  Sprinkle with black pepper and a touch of sea salt.  After about 5 minutes, add in the kale and cook on low heat for another 3-4 minutes.

4) In a bowl, layer the kale and polenta with the tomatoes and avocado.  Drizzle with dressing.  I used my homemade mango-berry vinaigrette.  Devour.

Serenity Salad

Vegan Recipes

Avocado & Kale with Mango-Berry Vinaigrette

In keeping with my recent practice of re-purposing food to maximize deliciousness and minimize waste, I made this amazing mango-berry vinaigrette with the remnants of a smoothie I made in the Vitamix.  Instead of immediately rinsing it out, I decided to use this as an opportunity to make a fruity-vinaigrette, something I’ve been wanting to try for a while.  Although I’m a condiment queen, I don’t generally buy salad dressing.  In part, this is because I prefer warm vegetables to cold salads.  But when I do get a hankering for a salad, I tend to want some kind of vinaigrette, as I absolutely love the taste of vinegar.  Anyways, to make this, I simply added about a quarter cup of EVOO to the leftover smoothie, along with copious amounts of balsamic vinegar,  sea salt and black pepper.  It was so ridiculously good.  And, I got to store it in this re-purposed jar, formerly home to maraschino cherries.  Recycling this tiny jar made me very, very happy.

I am delicious. I am tiny. I am amazing. I am recycled.
I am delicious. I am tiny. I am recycled.

To celebrate my re-purposing triumph, I cut up an avocado, sprinkled it with cumin and introduced it to a handful of kale.  Drizzled it with my amazing mango-berry dressing.  And for the next 20 bites, all was right with the world.

Avocado & kale

Food, Vegan Recipes

Habanero Home Fries w/ “Cheddar” & Sautéed Spinach

One of my lifelong favorite dishes is cheese fries.  Not fancy cheese fries.  I’m talking about regular old fries smothered in cheese whiz (not even real cheese) and doused with hot sauce, ketchup, black pepper and salt.  I’m definitely a Condiment Queen.


Anyway, my current lifestyle isn’t really compatible with cheese whiz fries.  So instead, I chowed down on this wholesome version.  Chopped and fried some organic red potatoes in EVOO along with shallots, onions and garlic.  Dropped in a handful of organic spinach, a a touch of habanero sauce and a sprinkle of Daiya cheddar.  Indulgent, decadent and delicious.

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Food, Vegan Recipes

Grilled Romaine & Tofu in Spicy Tomato/Raspberry/Avocado Sauce

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I’m getting in the habit of repurposing food as the spirit moves me.  The other night I made a delectable cappellini dish in cashew cheese alfredo with grilled mushrooms.  Not wanting to eat the same thing two nights in a row, I decided to experiment with using the leftover pasta as a base for something altogether different.  I noticed some romaine lettuce in the fridge that needed to be eaten, so I used this as an excuse to grill it up.  The sauce began with the remnants of a raspberry/blackberry/avocado smoothie I’d made that morning.  Instead of washing out the Vitamix, I used the repurposed the remaining smoothie by adding a tomato, balsamic vinegar, garlic, a little Worcestershire sauce and whatever else I could find that would yummify it. The fact that the noodles were bathed in cashew cheese and nutmeg meant that the dish was quite rich and savory.

One thing that I’m learning is that I actually enjoy tofu better when it’s chopped nice and small. I noticed this while eating out at a Thai restaurant last week.  There were these tiny bits of something or other in my salad – they tasted so good but I didn’t know what they were.  When the server told me it was tofu, I resolved to cut mine up as small as possible the next time I cooked it up at home.  I think smaller pieces are more enjoyable because they maximize taste.  Being the Condiment Queen I am, I need my tofu to serve as the most efficient delivery system for my sauce as possible.

Happy Veganisting!

Photos, Vegan Recipes

Pan Seared Pineapple Curry & Split Pea Mash

 

Last week, I ordered some kind of pineapple/chili dish served with tofu, grilled cashews and steamed vegetables.  As I noshed, I wondered: “Why don’t I ever cook with pineapples?”  Rectified this gross culinary negligence by whipping this up tonight.  The base of the curry is an almond butter sauce I made, along with carrots, garlic, grilled peanuts, almond milk and coconut butter.  Seared the pineapple in coconut oil along with red onions. Served over brown rice, red rice & black barley, with a side of split pea mash.  Incredibly delicious. Not low fat. At all.

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Food, Vegan Recipes

Bok Choy, “Beef” and Rice in Thai Almond Butter Sauce

Finished product

One of my Twitter followers recently humble-bragged about making her own peanut sauce from scratch.  I was mystified, but she made it sound easy.  So, without looking up a recipe, I decided to try my hand at something similar and even more exotic  — almond butter sauce.  

I’ve never been a huge fan of peanut butter, but I fell in love with almond butter when I began my veganish journey three months ago.  Not only is it packed full of protein, but it also has a lovely, mild taste. Anyway, this was the first time I used it in a cooked dish — usually I add it to my lettuce wraps.

Anatomy of a Dish: Almond butter, EVOO, Trader Joe's "Beefless" strips (seitan), cilantro, almond butter, red onion, garlic, lemon, vinaiger and Braggs amino acids
Anatomy of a Dish: Almond butter, EVOO, Trader Joe’s “Beefless” strips (seitan), cilantro, red onion, garlic, lemon, vinegar and Braggs amino acids

This dish – which, if I say so myself, belongs in the pantheon of vegan masterpieces – turned out to be absolutely divine. Right up there with the amazing mushroom risotto in cashew/dijon cream sauce, sprinkled with sweet potatoes and leeks that I had at Blossom yesterday.  I had a lot of fun making it and even more fun eating it.

So, here’s the low down:

Ingredients

*note, these measurements and directions are approximations. I generally do not follow recipies when I cook.. I simply intuit – and taste – as I go along. So use this as a template but do your own thing.

  • 1 baby bok choy
  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s “Beefless” strips (seitan)
  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Brown Rice, Red Rice & Black Barley Medley
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 handful of cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2-3 table spoons of almond butter
  • 1/4 cup cocnut milk
  • Braggs’ aminos
  • sea salt
  • EVOO

Chop up the garlic and toss it into a large sauce pan primed with 3 tablespoons of EVOO over medium heat. Chop the red onion and cilantro and add both to the garlic.  When that gets going, throw in the seitan and spray the whole lot with copious amounts of Braggs aminos.  Sprinkle in some sea salt.  Stir frequently and add more EVOO as neccessary.

Pretty bok choy

When the seitan is cooked thoroughly, add the almond butter,coconut milk, apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of the water. Stir and reduce to a low heat. While that’s simmering, chop of the baby bok choy and grill it separately in EVOO over medium heat.  Squeeze the lemon over the bok choy and spice with sea salt.  I like my bok choy nicely grilled, so I let it go for about 10 minutes.  Stir frequently.  Add the remaining water to the almond butter sauce and reduce to low heat.

Microwave the rice medley according to the box instructions.  Layer it with the sauce, seitan and bok choy. Savor. And thank me later.

Yum

Vegan Recipes

Coconut Raw Chocolate Truffles

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First time making truffles. Me likes.

Super easy – and delightful – to make. The kind of thing that could be the end..or the beginning.. of a really great date. Use the same basic Rawtarian raw chocolate recipe as usual. Let the chocolate cool in a dish – you don’t want it liquidy. Pour coconut flakes into a bowl. Add a dash of sea salt to make it extra delish.

Wash your hands. Scoop about a teaspoon of the raw into the flakes. Roll around in your hands until it’s fairly even ball. Pop in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Clean up is sexy, messy and fun. Once you’ve run out of enough chocolate to make truffles, take your finger, dip it in the remaing raw chocolate. Then dip it in the coconut flakes. Lick your finger. And repeat. Well don’t just sit there. Go do it, already. Thank me later..

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Vegan Recipes

Vegetable Lovers’ Vegan Alfredo

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Whipped this up the other night. The combination of mushrooms, artichokes, spinach & sun dried tomatoes in cheesy, vegan yumminess was so good, I almost shed a tear. Oh, and it’s gluten free, too.

For the alfredo, I brought about a cup of almond milk to boil, then returned to simmer. Added copious amounts of nutritional yeast, sea salt, garlic and a few spoons of marinated sun dried tomatoes. Used a little NO EGG to make the sauce thick and creamy. While this was heating up, I cooked some gluten free (corn) spaghetti in a saucepan.

In a large skillet, I grilled organic mushrooms in coconut oil, then added them to the alfredo. God, it would have been incredible if I had just stopped at this point. But no, I continued..

Next, I grilled the artichoke hearts (frozen, from Trader Joe’s) and spinach, separately. I stirred some of the veggies into the sauce, but set aside the rest.

When the pasta was done, I spiced it up with lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper before unceremoniously dumping it into the mushroom alfredo. Topped with the veggies and served with prosecco..

Divine.