Saturday, July 21, 2012

My "CSA" Salad

Several years ago, we purchased a share in a local CSA. I think CSA's are fantastic, and they can be wonderful if they are run well. Unfortunately, our experience was not so wonderful. I won't go into details, but let's just say the farm didn't treat its subscribers very well (lack of communication, small quantities of food, extremely small variety of vegetables, and poor quality were my main gripes). It didn't surprise me when the farm went out of business a couple of years ago.

Nevertheless, I did learn many things during my CSA summer. One of them was how to take a random assortment of veggies (turnip, beets, fennel) and turn it into a kick-booty salad.

I call this a CSA Salad, and I posted the recipe on VegWeb. It has a base of steamed bulgur, which is then tossed with a variety of raw, chopped veggies, toasted walnuts, and vinaigrette. My favorite veggies to use include beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, fennel, turnip, spinach, and scallions, but you can use whatever you have on hand. The vinaigrette takes two minutes to whip up, and in no time, you have a crunchy, tangy, vitamin-loaded plate of goodness.

Sometimes I'll add a can of chickpeas in there, but it doesn't even really need it. I've also had success substituting millet for the bulgur to make it gluten-free, but I prefer it with the bulgur. It tastes great freshly made and even better the next day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Two Smoothies and Flower Power Granola Squares

Is this not the best-colored smoothie you've ever seen?

The color reminds me of Ecto Cooler, but the taste and ingredients? Not so much.

It's a Pina Colada Smoothie from Zesty Cook, and it's awesome. Coconut milk, baby spinach, banana, fresh mint, and pineapple. So refreshing (and so green!)

One morning, I wanted to make a smoothie with flavors of strawberry shortcake, but I didn't want it to be too rich or heavy. I certainly could have added lots of things to make it more shortcake-like (quick oats, baking soda, butter extract, cashew butter), but I wanted something simple and light.

I blended together some frozen strawberries, banana, hemp protein, raw cashews, water, ice, and a pinch of cinnamon. It was just what I wanted - not too sweet and not too thick. It was the perfect recovery drink after a run!

Of course, I don't just drink smoothies and eat salads all the time. Sometimes I even bake stuff :) 

These are Flower Power Granola Squares from 1,000 Vegan Recipes, and these are a party in your mouth. Mix together some seeds (I used sunflower, pumpkin, and hemp seeds), quick oats, dried cranberries, flaked coconut, chocolate chips, soymilk, melted Earth Balance, and agave nectar. Smoosh it all together and bake for 25 minutes. Then, show some restraint and try not to eat the entire pan by yourself.
This is a wonderfully "sneaky-healthy" dish for kids. My son acts like he's getting a cookie for breakfast, yet there is only 2 tablespoons each of EB and agave in the whole dish (an 8x8 pan). How can a mama not love that? It's basically a super-loaded bowl of oatmeal in a semi-solid form, and it's got chocolate. You can't go wrong! It's a little crumbly in texture, so I usually just scoop some into a bowl and we eat it with a spoon. It's good right out of the oven AND cold from the fridge. Take that, Pop Tarts!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Breakdown of a Main-Dish Salad

I love salad. Like, love, love, love salad. I eat salad every day. I make salad at home, and I order salad when I go out to eat. I bring salad to other people's houses when I visit. But sometimes I have a hard time thinking of new recipes for salad.

Some days I like my salads to be nice and light, but other days, I want something hearty and substantial. I was feeling particularly hungry this day, so I grabbed everything out of the produce drawer and started chopping. Zucchini, red pepper, curly kale, collard greens, celery...they all made the cut. I transferred everything to a giant platter (below) and just set it in the fridge for later assembly.

I threw some quinoa on the stove, and in 15 minutes, I had my pseudo-grain ready. Honestly, sometimes I wish quinoa was a grain, because it would be so much easier to just say "here's my grain." But, nooooooo.

I grabbed a big bowl and spooned some quinoa on the bottom, layering the chopped veggies on top. For extra satiety and protein, I added some baked tempeh, cut into cubes. The dressing is Caesar Chavez Dressing from Appetite for Reduction:

A salad like this is great because you are hitting so many nutritional bases at once: green leafies, protein (quinoa and tempeh), fat (from the cashew-based dressing), and carbs (quinoa, veggies). Not to mention, there is a TON of fiber in this dish. I think green leafies deserve their own category because they are so important to our diet!

I think the best part is that this is a salad you can put together piece-meal; often, I will make the dressing and cook and cool the grain in the morning. During my son's nap or quiet time, I'll marinate the tempeh and chop the veggies. When dinner time rolls around, all I have to do is assemble the salads and eat! I love meals like that :)

I haven't gotten any reader comments in, like, forever, so someone out there, please leave me a comment and let me know about your favorite salads! Thank you!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Avocado and Tempeh Bacon Wraps and Roasted Ratatouille Gratin

I think if I could only keep one cookbook for the rest of my life, I'd most likely choose Robin Robertson's 1,000 Vegan Recipes. I mean, duh. One thousand recipes is quite the variety, and I'd never get recipe-fatigue. Having said that, there are several recipes in this book that I make quite often -Chickpea Pancake with Rosemary; Tuscan Bread and Tomato Salad; Arugula and Apple Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing; Tuscan White Beans and Broccoli Rabe; and Lemon-Glazed Baby Carrots with Cranberries. What can I say, when it's good, it's good! But I certainly have a long way to go to reach 1,000, so I'm trying to make a dent in the recipe count.

First up, the Avocado and Tempeh Bacon Wraps. I've made a similar sandwich before, but this one was definitely simpler to make. It was also, most importantly, super-delicious!

The Tempeh Bacon is a separate recipe in the book, and it's easy as pie to make. Just steam the tempeh, slice it, and pan-fry it with some oil, tamari, and liquid smoke. Done. Then grab a wrap (I used pumpernickel), spread it with some Vegenaise, add some sliced tomato, lettuce, and avocado, and add the tempeh bacon, like so:

Roll it up, slice in half, and serve. Yum!

Funnily enough, one day I looked in the fridge and saw that I had some eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and red onion that needed to get used up. Those ingredients immediately made me think of ratatouille, so I grabbed 1,000 Vegan Recipes to see if Robin had a recipe for it. Sure enough, she did!

This is a GREAT recipe. You just chop up the veggies, toss it with some other ingredients (garlic, canned diced tomatoes, EVOO, spices), and throw it all into a baking dish. During the last 15 minutes, you uncover the dish and sprinkle it with some bread crumbs (I used Panko), thyme, and nooch. When it's done baking, you have a creamy, delicious casserole that will satisfy anyone, including son LOVED it!

I added some cannellini beans to increase the protein/nutrition, and that was a great decision. These soft, mellow beans are the perfect complement to the soft, creamy veggies!

I had some kale salad on the side to increase the "green" factor of this meal. It was so, so yummy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Salad Slam!

If I had my way, I'd exist on smoothies and salads for the entire summer. I love their taste, nutrition, ease of preparation, flexibility, and portability. I also love the fact that I don't have to turn on the oven and make the kitchen any hotter than it already is!

Here are some salads I've been enjoying lately:

Roasted Portobello Salad (except I sub eggplant for the 'shrooms!) from Veganomicon, with a side of millet:

Roasted Cauliflower and Rice Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette from 1,000 Vegan Recipes:

Lightened Up Protein Power Goddess Bowl from Oh She Glows, with a side of Chickpea Pancake with Rosemary from 1,000 Vegan Recipes:

Arugula and Apple Salad with Creamy Mustard Dressing (1,000 Vegan Recipes), frozen Alexia fries, Basic Baked Tempeh (Appetite for Reduction), carrot sticks, and roasted chickpeas:

Umm...I can't remember where this recipe came from. It appears to be massaged kale, apples, carrots, and something else?? I'm sure it was tasty!

Raw Mediterranean Kale Salad from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen:

Romaine and Grape Tomato Salad with Avocado and Baby Peas (1,000 Vegan Recipes) and Forty-Clove Chickpeas & Broccoli (Appetite for Reduction):

A completely random salad made with baby arugula, chopped tomato, chopped cucumber, celery, carrots, fava beans, roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, chopped green olives, pine nuts, capers, olive oil, and white balsamic vinegar. Yummmm.

My new obsession - Purple Kale Salad with Creamy Apricot Ginger Dressing, Walnuts, and Apples from Choosing Raw:

I've been eating it by the boatload lately. Here it is with some brown lentils and more socca (my other new obsession):

This is the simple but tasty Chopped Salad (1,000 Vegan Recipes), served with Basic Baked Tempeh (Appetite for Reduction) and a baked potato. The romaine lettuce was fresh from a friend's garden and it was so tender and delicious!

Creamy Curry Pasta and Vegetable Salad (1,000 Vegan Recipes) with some steamed broccoli:

And, finally, another delicious smoothie creation. This one had spirulina, hemp protein powder, hemp seeds, spinach, pineapple, coconut water, and ginger. So tangy and refreshing!

What are your favorite summery salads?