Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend Yums

Nothing like being Captain Obvious, but I love the weekends.

Weekends mean movie nights, family hikes, longer runs, visiting with friends, and spending time outside. 

It also means enjoying some favorite treats that I don't indulge in during the week.

Such as...homemade pizza. I usually make a quick/non-yeasted crust, but I just tried Mama Pea's Tried and True Whole Wheat Pizza Dough, and it was great. I topped it with some tomato sauce, chopped mushrooms, diced red onion, and Daiya mozzarella. If I ask my son what he wants for dinner, he will say "PIZZA!" every time. He loves it as much as I do!

It was ooey, gooey, melty, and delicious, although I think some kalamata olives would have really kicked it up a time!
Another Saturday evening, we came home late and wanted to eat pronto. I grabbed a package of sourdough wraps, some hummus, and vegetable errata (arugula, tomato, cucumber, carrot) and made some quick sandwiches while frozen fries were baking in the oven. A frosty glass of Colorado Native beer hit the spot! Beer + french fries + ketchup = awesome.

Sometimes, it's fun to indulge your inner college kid and just have snacky food for dinner. I made some OMG Oven-Baked Onion Rings from Appetite for Reduction and some Avocado Chimichurri Bruschetta and went to town!
After having onion rings and bruschetta for dinner, it just makes sense to follow up with some "Not Guilty" Chocolate Chip Cookies. I mean, really. You've got to hit all your food groups!
As much as I love my big salads and smoothies, I also love to have fun foods on occasion.

What are some of your favorite weekend indulgences?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mango Powerhouse Smoothie

Sometimes, I break out of my usual chocolate smoothie rut and experiment with something new. The other day, I wanted an afternoon snack that would give me some energy. I peeked in my fridge and freezer, pulled some stuff out, and came up with this beauty:

Isn't it beautiful?! Nothing makes me happier than a bright green smoothie. I know I am treating my body right by filling it with healthy ingredients, and besides that, it just tastes delicious!

Mango Powerhouse Smoothie
Makes 1 large serving / 2 small servings

1 cup frozen mango chunks
1 frozen banana
2-3 large Swiss chard leaves
2 large stalks celery, chopped
1 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon hemp seeds

Blend until smooth!

It was so creamy, so thick, so....mmmm. And seriously, folks, how can you not feel good about drinking something this wholesome? I love it when healthy is yummy! :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eggplant-Chickpea Curry with Cranberry-Cashew Biryani

Nothing beats a good curry. I love how they can be packed with different spices, veggies, and proteins (beans and lentils are my faves), and they match beautifully with grains such as rice, couscous, or quinoa. A curry dish is often a complete meal for me, hitting all of my nutritional bases (fats, carbs, proteins, veggies) in one pot.

I was looking for some curry inspiration and came across the Eggplant-Chickpea Curry recipe in Appetite for Reduction. It just so happened that I had some eggplant in my fridge, so it seemed like destiny.

In the recipe notes, Isa says that this dish pairs well with the Cranberry-Cashew Biryani in AFR, so I looked to see if I had those ingredients as well. Turns out I did, and the result was a plate of divine Indian flavors.

The curry features eggplant cooked low and slow until it breaks down and gets silky. There is also some fresh tomatoes, ginger, onions, garlic, chickpeas, and cilantro in there, too.
To start the biryani, you heat some oil in a pan and then toast some cumin seeds and mustard seeds until they start to pop and become fragrant. Then you add in some garlic, carrots, spices, and basmati rice and let it cook for while. Finally, you add in some dried cranberries, cashews, and frozen peas. The cranberries give it a great burst of flavor.

I had some agave-sweetened ginger ale to round out the meal. Yum!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Quinoa Salad, Two Ways

Quinoa, quinoa, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....

You cook in just 15 minutes.
You are a complete protein.
You can take on any flavor.
You are a superfood.

Quinoa, you're pretty cool stuff.

I especially . love making quinoa salads. They are endlessly customizable, so you can take them in virtually any direction you want. One night, I was craving Greek flavors, so I made this Mediterranean Quinoa Salad from 1,000 Vegan Recipes

It's cooked and cooled quinoa tossed with grape tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, olives, basil, and toasted pine nuts. The dressing is made with shallot, garlic, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and EVOO. It was really fresh and light, and I served it over some mixed baby greens.

The night before I left for recent vacation, I had a hodgepodge of veggies in the fridge that I needed to use up, including zucchini, baby carrots, cucumber, scallions, celery, lime, chives, and cilantro. I made some Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette from Vive Le Vegan! (to use up the lime), then tossed it with some cooled quinoa and all those veggies. You know what - it was DELICIOUS!!! Totally rocked my socks, and I was thrilled to use up that completely random assortment of veggies. 

It was so good that I wrote it down!

Colorado Cumin-Lime Quinoa Salad

2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1/2 lb baby carrots, sliced
1/2 large English cucumber, cubed
6 scallions, sliced
4 stalks celery, sliced
fresh chives and cilantro, minced
Cumin-Lime Vinaigrette (I used the recipe in Vive Le Vegan!)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and eat!

It was so nourishing, so water-rich, and so was the perfect thing to eat the night before a long plane ride!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Comfort Foods

Some days you just need a hug.

Some days your tummy just needs a hug, too.

Here are some of my recent tummy-huggers :)

Soft Broccoli Polenta from Appetite for's warm, creamy, and oh-so-comforting:

Sometimes I like it along with a bowl of soup, like this Monkey Minestrone from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan:

Other days, comfort comes in the form of a bunch of healthy, raw ingredients I can just toss in the Vita-Mix, like Kristen Suzanne's Raw Moroccan Gazpacho:
Along with the soup, I served a quick Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad from Olive Trees & Honey:

A few days ago, I cooked some Lemon Chickpea Lentil Soup (also from ED&BV), steamed broccoli, and Chickpea Pancake with Rosemary from 1,000 Vegan Recipes.
This "pancake" is actually socca, a savory flatbread made with chickpea flour. The unleavened batter is poured into a preheated cast-iron skillet and baked in a hot oven for about 15 minutes. It has a delightfully crispy-yet-soft texture that satisfies your craving for salty carbs :)

Finally, here's a big steaming bowl of Chickpea Rice Soup with Cabbage from the PPK. It's loaded with super nutritious foods (cabbage, carrots, chickpeas, onions, garlic) and it's a breeze to whip up.
I think I learned some lessons from this post:

Soup comforts me.
Chickpeas comfort me.
I think I'll go hug a chickpea today :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Caribbean Fusion Stew

When scanning through Dreena Burton's new cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan!, one of the recipes that immediately caught my eye was the Caribbean Fusion Stew. Now, I am a huge, HUGE fan of Dreena's soup and stew recipes - in fact, her Sweet Potato Lentil Stew from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan is probably my favorite recipe of all time. Her winning combinations of veggies, beans/legumes, and spices are always a hit in my household, so I was excited to try this exotically-flavored dish. I was certainly not disappointed!

This stew is brimming with vegetables, beans, and lentils, boasting vibrant flavors in a spiced coconut broth. There are red peppers, onions, plantains, red lentils, black beans, kidney beans, ginger, coconut milk, zucchini, broccoli, cilantro, and fresh lime juice here, all served atop a bed of brown basmati rice. I squeezed extra lime juice on top for some more zing!
This stew was AWESOME. I'll make it again for sure!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My New Obsession

Move over, smoothies...something new has been partying in my Vita-Mix.

It's Tomato Curry Dressing, and I've been known to lick my blender clean of this stuff.

I don't know how something so simple - tomatoes, dates, cider vinegar, EVOO, garlic, curry powder, and salt 'n pepper - could taste so amazing. But it does, trust me.

Need proof? Fine.

Exhibit A:

Baby arugula, carrots, cannellini beans, celery, cucumber, raisins, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and Tomato Curry Dressing.

Exhibit B:
Baby arugula, fresh tomato, red pepper, grated carrots, celery, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, raisins, and Tomato Curry Dressing.

Exhibit C:

Baby arugula, fresh tomato, orange pepper, celery, cucumber, raisins, pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, quinoa, and Tomato Curry Dressing.

I <3 this dressing!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Breakfast, My Favorite Meal of the Day

I just love breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day, for sure. I think I know why: to me, there is nothing better than waking up, getting some exercise (running, hiking, weights), stretching, and then sitting down to a delicious smoothie, the morning newspaper, and Sesame Street with my son :) It's a great way to start my day!

Here's some breakfasts I've been enjoying lately:

Quinoa flakes, sliced almonds, pistachios, goji berries, goldenberries, and mulberries. Super yummy!

Quinoa flakes, sliced bananas, sliced almonds, raisins, and blackstrap molasses. Mmmm!

Smoothie with 1 cup frozen mango, 1 frozen banana, 3 stalks chopped celery, 1 cup almond milk, 1 TBS chia seeds, and 1 TBS hemp protein powder.

Mama Pea's Flex on the Beach Smoothie. *Drool*.... A thick, tropical, nutritious, and dee-licous blend of banana, strawberries, pineapple, coconut water, avocado, coconut oil, chia seeds, turmeric, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. This is so refreshing and it makes a great post-workout recovery drink.

My old standby smoothie: frozen blueberries, frozen banana, raw cacao powder, hemp seeds, hemp protein powder, water, ice, Amazing Grass powder, 2 raw collard leaves, and 3 stalks celery. I have this for breakfast at least 3 times a week!

Any other breakfast lovers out there? I'm always looking for new ideas! :)