Monday, September 30, 2013

Tabbouleh Salad with Quinoa and Chickpeas

I've only been a vegan for a few months now and I will humbly admit that the first month or two had some rough patches. Botched meals, oatmeal for dinner cause I didn't know what else to make, and frustration at my lack of vegan knowledge were common occurrences. I'm pretty sure the thought of giving up crossed my mind at some point. But I hated the thought of eating meat and dairy again so I kept pressing on and man, I'm so glad I did. And thanks to other vegan bloggers and writers I was constantly reminded that I was not alone in this difficult quest to cut out all animal products from my diet.

I gotta say that I am so thankful for all the vegan cookbooks out there. I have yet to become confident in my own cooking skills to try out any personal vegan recipes. I always need a recipe to look at and from there I'll make occasional small changes. I'm excited for the day when I'll be able to whip up my own recipes, but until then, cook books it is.

For my birthday I got the Forks Over Knives cookbook and have tried out a few recipes since then. I tried out this tabbouleh recipe a few days after a failed attempt at vegan pad thai and I was nervous that I would again ruin another dinner. But, lo and behold, this salad turned out fantastic. My husband and his best friend loved it. We like it best in pita pockets smeared with hummus. It's so light and fresh and versatile. You can eat it plan or put it on some greens and be done. Yum.

Tabbouleh Salad with Quinoa and Chickpeas
(Makes 7 heaping cups)

1 cup quinoa, dry (equals 2 1/2 cups cooked)
2 cups water
3 medium roma tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber
1 can chickpeas

, thoroughly drained and rinsed.
8 stalks fresh green onions, finely
1 cup chopped parsley
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa and water in a medium sized sauce pan, cover and bring to a boil. Keeping the pan covered, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook the quinoa for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Take off the heat, uncover and let cool to room temp. You can fluff the quinoa with a fork after it's been off the heat for a few minutes.

While the quinoa is cooling prepare the rest of the ingredients. Peel the cucumber, cut it in half and seed it and then give it a good chop. Chop the tomatoes as well and feel free to get rid of some of the juicy seeds.

Drain and rinse the beans well.

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, squeeze the fresh lemon juice over top and season with salt and pepper.

Eat plain, on top of a salad, or in a pita with hummus, sliced cucumber and tomatoes.






Nutrition Facts: Cals: 170; Fat: 2g; Carbs: 33g; Fiber: 7.6g; Sugars: 2.5g; Protein: 7.6g

Eat Consciously,

     Faith

Chocolate Chia Oatmeal

I don't know of three words that make me more happy when grouped together: healthy, chocolate, and oatmeal. What an amazing combination. Even more so, what an amazing breakfast...or lunch...or dinner.

I have always loved oatmeal and eat it most mornings for breakfast. Oatmeal fills me up the best unlike cereal or smoothies which leave me feeling hungry a couple hours later. I recently came across Lauren Smith's blog, The Oatmeal Artist, and was excited to find all the different variations of oats she has posted.

My husband Brett and I were just in Chicago. It was an awesome trip, but the cold weather affected my floridian bones and I got a cold. I've been sitting on the couch all day, eating "sick people" food and remembered that I wanted to try out some chocolate oatmeal. It came out great! It was rich, sweet and filling and truly healthy because it's made with old fashioned oats, chia seeds and cocoa powder.

I recently have become aware of how awesome cocoa powder is. It's rich in antioxidants, low in calories and fat unlike chocolate, and has two grams of fiber per tablespoon! This oatmeal will definitely be added to my breakfast staples.



Chocolate Chia Oatmeal
(Makes 1  serving)


 Ingredients:

· 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
· 1 cup water (or milk of choice)
· 1/2  ripe banana, thinly sliced
· 1 tablespoon chia seeds
· 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
· Splash of vanilla extract
· Pinch of sea salt
· Optional toppings: chopped walnuts, almonds, pecans or chocolate chips

  Directions:

1. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium sized sauce pan.
2. Pour in the oatmeal, sliced banana and chia seeds and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let the oats cook for 3 minutes or so, whisking vigorously at first to break up the banana slices.
3. Once the oats have thickened, add in the cocoa powder, vanilla extract and salt. Mix well and let cook a minute more, occasionally whisking the oats so that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
4. Top with optional toppings and enjoy your dessert for breakfast!


Notes: adapted from here.


To start, cook the oats, chia seed and sliced banana in 1 cup of water.


Whisk well so that the banana slices break up and sweeten all the oats.



Add in the cocoa powder, vanilla and salt towards the end and mix well.


Enjoy your healthy, chocolaty breakfast!



Nutrition (1/2 banana and no toppings): Cals: 322 cals; Fat: 11 g; Carbs: 55.5 g; Fiber: 15 g; Sugar; 12 g; Protein: 11 g


Eat Consciously,

     Faith

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Baked Banana Chips

I love pretzels. No, I LOVE pretzels. Actually, anything relatively bland and crunchy is delicious to me. But the longer I've been vegan, the more I've realized that I need to find a new snack that is more nutritious than processed white flour and salt. I never thought I'd try to eliminate pretzels from my diet, but they're now just not as appealing to me. Crazy. I can't believe I just typed that.

Anyways. In attempts to find a better snack that is still crunchy and has some salt, I decided to try out some banana chips the other day. While these take a long time to bake, they are really simple and don't require many ingredients. They're a great thing to make while you're cleaning the house or meal planning for the week.

Banana Chips
(serves 2)

2 ripe bananas
lemon juice
water
cinnamon
sea salt

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice your bananas into 1/4 inch slices and lay them on the baking sheet.

Put some lemon juice and a little water into a small bowl and use a basting brush to brush the lemon water over each banana slice. Then sprinkle with cinnamon and sea salt.

Bake in the oven for and 1.5-2 hours, flipping the bananas over half way through. They will shrink up and start to turn brown as they bake. After baking, let the chips cool some so that they can harden even more.

That's it!


I estimate about one banana per serving, so if you want to make more just do a banana per person!

Eat Consciously,
     Faith

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kale with White Beans and Sun-dried Tomatoes

In an earlier post I mentioned that one of the best things about going vegan is that my diet is more varied. You can ask my friends, but before I went vegan I would eat pretzels, carrots and oatmeal everyday at some point . No variety. Only simple and quick. I feel so much better now that I eat more types of produce and whole grains. It's also been neat to notice how my palate is expanding to appreciate more foods.

I bought kale for the first time a few weeks ago and let me tell you, it was a big ol' bag. So I've had to find some more kale recipes other than my Green Kale Smoothie to even notice that I'd used any of it. A friend had Brett and me over the other day and made an awesome kale dish with chickpeas, limes and ginger. It used a ton of kale, so I thought I'd make a similar dish, but change it up a bit. Try this out. It's super fast and easy and tastes great.

Kale with White Beans and Sun-dried Tomatoes
(Serves 4)

Adapted from here.

1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1 medium roma tomato, chopped
1 can white beans (or two cups cooked), drained and thoroughly rinsed
1/2 lb. coarsely chopped kale
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup chopped sundried tomatoes
salt and pepper

In a large saute pan, saute the celery, onion and garlic (using water or pam) until soft and translucent. Add the broth or water, roma tomato, and white beans. Cover and simmer over low heat for about five minutes.

While that's cooking, chop your kale. Then add the kale, nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes and allow the kale to cook until wilted and bright green.

Stir in the sun-dried tomato and then serve!



Eat Consciously,
     Faith

Homemade Almond Butter

I've always known that peanut butter is made from peanuts and almond butter is made from almonds. Duh. But who knew that with a little patience it could be so easy to make on your own AND that by making your own nut butter at home you can control what goes into your nut butter. Beautiful revelation.

The other day I wanted to make Cranberry Orange Biscotti, but the recipe called for almond butter, which I didn't have. Then I realized that this would be the perfect time to try to make my own almond butter. Thankfully I had some roasted almonds in my cupboard and the time to make it. I don't know if I'll ever buy nut butter from the store again.

Homemade Almond Butter

1 1/2 - 2 cups almonds (roasted or plain)
Sea Salt (optional)

To make your own nut butter you'll need a good food processor...and some patience.
Place all the almonds in your food processor and process on high. (Make sure you process on high, or otherwise this process will take an hour instead of 15 minutes. I learned the hard way and my food processor even died for a couple of minutes because I had been working it so hard!)


After a couple of minutes, your almonds will turn into a course meal and will eventually get finer after a few more minutes.


 

As you continue processing the almonds, stop your processor every couple of minutes or so to push down the sides and make sure that all of the almonds are getting processed. Soon you'll be able to see a subtle paste begin to form on the bottom of your processor. But keep going!



After about 15 minutes or high processing and the occasional pushing down of the sides, you'll start to get almond butter! At this time you can add your seas salt if you desire, which is so delicious.



Ah, pure almond butter. Made a home. No added ingredients. Mmmmm.



I used a little less than 1 1/2 cups of almonds and it almost filled a small mason jar. I hope you try it out. It's so easy and pure, you won't regret it!


Eat Consciously,

     Faith

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Berry Baked Oatmeal

I love oatmeal. If I wasn't married I would probably eat it for dinner a couple times a week. It's good I'm married I guess (okay, for a lot of reasons other than that). Anyways, today we had some friends over for breakfast and I "veganized" a baked oatmeal recipe a friend had given me and it turned out so good. Ah, I'm hooked! Try it out.

Berry Baked Oatmeal
(Makes 6-8 servings)

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts (divided)*
2 cups milk
1 flax "egg"*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 1/2 cups blueberries and strawberries (or whatever kind you have on hand)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter, melted

*To toast your walnuts, place them on a baking dish in an oven heated to 375 degrees for about 7 minutes.
*To make a flax "egg", whisk 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for five minutes until the texture turns "yolky"

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8x8 inch square baking dish with PAM.

In a large bowl mix the dry ingredients together: oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt and 1/4 cup of walnuts.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flax egg, milk, vanilla and melted butter.

Once your dry and wet ingredients are all ready, place the banana slices on the bottom of your prepared baking dish until the bottom is completely covered. Sprinkle half of the berries over top of the bananas and then top the berries with all of the dry oat mixture. Next slowly pour the wet ingredients over top of the oats and gently shake the dish or use a spatula to make sure the liquid is evenly distributed.


Lastly top with the remaining berries and walnuts.

Bake for about 40 minutes, uncovered until golden and bubbly. Let cool for a few minutes before serving plain or with maple syrup.



Everyone loved this and we ate it all up! I think next time I'll try omitting the butter and I bet it will turn out just as good.


Nutrition for 1/6: Cals: 288; Fat: 11.4g (Sat 1.72g); Carbs: 44g; Fiber: 6g; Sugars: 18.5g; Protein: 6 g

Eat Consciously,

     Faith

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Cranberry Almond Biscotti

I've tried to make biscotti once before and it didn't turn out so great. I mainly remember it was hard as a rock and pretty bland. Now, oddly enough, I really do love bland crunchy food most of the time, but when you're drinking a good cup of coffee you gotta have something sweet. It's just a fact.

I recently got the Forks Over Knives cookbook from my sister-in-law for my birthday and so far all the recipes I've made have turned out good. I had yet to try out one of the desserts until today and I'm so glad that this biscotti recipe turned out to be delicious! I hope you try it.

Cranberry Almond Biscotti
(Makes 16 slices)

Adapted from Forks Over Knives

1/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fruit-sweetened dried cranberries

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the orange juice and flaxseeds vigorously so it becomes frothy.
Then mix in the dry sweetener, applesauce, almond butter, and vanilla.

Next add in the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and allspice, then add the salt and mix until well combined. Knead in the cranberries using your hands.

On the prepared baking sheet, form the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches long by 3 to 4
inches wide (you may need to add flour to your hands because the dough will be sticky). Bake for 26 to 28 minutes, or until lightly puffed and browned. Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes. Turn the over temperature up to 375ºF.




After your biscotti loaf has cooled, use a very sharp knife and slice the biscotti into 16 slices. I found it was easiest to slice the entire loaf in half and then to continue slicing each section in half until I had 16 slices. It is probably best not to "saw" the biscotti or the dough may crumble. It worked for me to point my knife straight up and down and cut it in short stabs.

Once you have you slices, lay them down on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes (I ended up going for about 15 or so), flipping the slices halfway through. Allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring the slices to cooling racks


 


I was so so happy with how these turned out! They were so much better than my first biscotti attempt years ago.

Nutrition Facts: Cals: 145; Fat: 2.6g; Carbs: 28g; Fiber: 2.85g; Sugar: 13.8g; Protein: 3g

Eat Consciously,

     Faith

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Acorn Squash "Alfredo" Sauce with Penne Pasta

This weekend one of my husband's friends who was a groomsmen in our wedding came to visit. It was the first time we've ever had anyone from out of town stay over in our little apartment and it was a blast. We took him to see downtown Orlando and spent two days at Cocoa Beach using a free night stay at the Ron Jon Resort that Brett and I scored for for sitting through a 90 minute tour a few weeks ago. What a relaxing weekend.

But I gotta say that I always get nervous cooking new vegan meals for guests, because I still feel like I'm still in the experimental, "what-the-heck-am-I-doing" phase of vegan cooking. Saturday night we ended up eating here at the house which meant I had to try out a new recipe. And praises, this Acorn "Alfredo" Pasta turned out great! I'm so thankful for people who have already created amazing recipes that I can start out with until I can create my own vegan concoctions.

Acorn Squash "Alfredo" Sauce with Penne Pasta
(Serves 7)

Adapted from lunchboxbrunch.com

1 box whole wheat penne pasta (13.25 oz)
1 medium acorn squash
1 cup fresh, chopped parsley
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any plain, plant based milk)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons total of basil, oregano and thyme (I used two teaspoons of each)
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cut your acorn squash in half horizontally, scoop out the seeds,


and place the halves cut sides down into a baking dish filled with one inch of water. Roast the squash in the oven for about 60-75 minutes.


When your squash has only about 10 minutes to go, boil water in a large sauce pan and start cooking your pasta. Also saute your mushrooms in a skillet for about 5 minutes until soft. Set the mushrooms aside.

Once your squash is roasted, scoop out all of the soft flesh and place it in a food processor with the remaining ingredients except the mushrooms. Blend until you get a smooth sauce and there aren't any large parsley flakes.

Strain your pasta and then place it back in the sauce pan with the acorn squash puree and mushrooms. Mix well and serve!

(Nutrition Facts: Cals: 320; Fat: 4 g; Carbs: 58 g; Fiber: 11 g; Sugar 4.5 g; Protein: 15 g)

Eat Consciously,

     Faith



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Green Kale Smoothie (3 Ingredients)

I think one of the best things about going vegan is that I eat a wider variety of produce. You kind of half to start branching out with your fruits and veggies if you cut out all animal products. I bought kale for the first time today and figured I'd start out easy with a smoothie. It turned out great and was so simple! I'm hooked.

                                               
Green Kale Smoothie
(Makes 1 serving)
                                                 

 Ingredients:

· 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
· 1/2 frozen banana
· 1 cup kale

  Directions:

1. Place all three ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
2. There is no step two. Just Enjoy!



I think the next time I'll experiment with some other ingredients like ginger, flax seed, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Nutrition: Cals: 115; Fat: 3 grams / Carbs: 21 grams / Fiber: 4 grams / Protein: 4 grams / Sugars: 7 grams

Friday, September 6, 2013

Wheaty Waffles

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I would eat breakfast food three times a day if I could. No matter how early I have to wake up, I always make time to eat breakfast before i go anywhere. Usually I'll have oatmeal or cereal, but it's always nice to have something different. Unfortunately those "different" options, like pancakes and waffles, take a little longer to make. I decided to find a recipe for waffles that I like so i could make a bunch and then freeze them. They're so easy to just pop in a toaster in the morning and it allows me to have something a little special every once in a while without having to take extra time making them. The recipe I found was from thishomemadelife.com. I made a few changes in order for them to be Vegan and I really like how they turned out.



Wheaty Waffles
(Serves 6)

1 Flax egg* (1 Tablespoon flaxseed plus 3 tablespoons water)
6 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 Tablespoon natural cane sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 optional add-ins such as pecans, chocolate chips, etc.

*To made a flax egg, simply whisk the flaxseed and water together in a bowl and then let it sit for a few minutes. It will become a "yoke-y" consistency and will help bind all of the ingredients together

Heat up your waffle iron.
While it's heating, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, salt and add-ins together in a large bowl. Stir until combined.

Once your flax egg is ready, combine the "egg", applesauce, milk and vanilla together in a bowl. Next add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Use a measuring cup and pour the batter onto your heated waffle iron and let the waffles cook until the steam has stopped and they're golden brown. Make sure you cook them long enough so they aren't soggy.

Serve them right away with some maple syrup and fruit or freeze them for later!








Thursday, September 5, 2013

Simple Mac and Cheese

I've been hesitant to take the plunge and cook something with nutritional yeast. It's been in my cupboard for a while though and last night I finally decided to try out some mac 'n cheese. All the pictures I'd seen online for vegan mac and cheese looked great and it seems like a good number of people like the stuff. Why wouldn't I? I chose a recipe from "Oh She Glows" that was super quick and easy and I was really pleased with the result!

Simple Mac and Cheese
(Makes 8, 1 cup servings)

Adapted from Oh She Glows.

Ingredients:

1 box (13.25 oz or so) whole wheat pasta (I used elbow pasta)
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 Tablespoon tahini
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
Ground Pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, put all of the remaining ingredients (except the peas and pepper) into a blender and blend until smooth.

Place the drained pasta and the "cheese" sauce back in a sauce pan on medium-low heat and allow the sauce to thicken. It will take about five minutes. Add the peas towards the end of the thickening process. Add pepper to taste, stir and serve! (And don't let the add smell from the nutritional yeast scare you. It tastes great!)




Hope you like it!


Nutrition for 1 cup: Calories: 246 / Fat: 2.5 grams / Carbs: 45 grams / Fiber 8.5 grams / Protein 13 grams