Saturday, February 26, 2011

Awesome Vegan Panini

With all the flavor and other creamy elements, you might not notice there is no cheese.

Serves 2

4 slices sourdough or rustic type bread (I used Trader Joe's Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane- an awesome real artisan bread)
1/4 cup vegan (cheese-free) pesto, home made or store bought
1 roasted red pepper, home made or jarred (or enough to cover each sandwich)
1/2 avocado
1/2 cup canned or marinated artichoke hearts, sliced if needed
Olive oil or Earth Balance, for grilling sandwiches

Spread each slice of bread with 1 TBSP pesto. On 2 slices of the bread layer avocado (mash slightly and spread on spread), roasted peppers and artichoke hearts. Top with remaining bread slices. Spread each side of the sandwiches with a bit of Earth Balance or brush lightly with olive oil.

Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Place sandwiches in skillet and top with another skillet and other items to weigh down and press the sandwiches. Grill for a few minutes each side until lightly browned and warmed through. Cut sandwiches on the diagonal and serve.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Teff Porridge with Coconut, Almonds and Dates

I modified this recipe a couple years ago from the Bob's Red Mill package and love it. Teff is another grain you must try if you have not already. It is the grain of Ethiopia, used to make their traditional sour flat-bread called injera. Teff is the smallest grain in the world, smaller than the tip of a needle. It is high in fiber, protein and iron. It is also gluten-free. Cooked up, it produces an almost chocolate-y essence that reminds me a bit of chocolate Malt-o-Meal, so I think is best lent to sweet applications.

They usually carry it at Clark's, though lately they've only carried the flour. You can order it online. It is more expensive than other grains since here in the US it is only grown at one farm and sold by Bob's Red Mill. But it is still cheaper than animal products and lends variety to my vegan breakfasts. For those that aren't coconut fans (like my husband), you really don't taste the coconut if you use the coconut milk, it just makes the porridge slightly creamy.

Start this recipe the night before you want to have it for breakfast. Like I said, it is high in fiber so don't say I didn't warn you. Also, because the grain is so small you should chew very thoroughly. All that said, it is delicious. This recipe also has 12 grams of protein per serving, as much as 2 eggs.

Serves 2

1/2 cup teff
1/2 cup canned coconut milk or 1/4 cup raw coconut butter (Sold by Artisana in healthfood stores, coconut butter is very rich. It is made by pureeing coconut oil with coconut meat. It will make the recipe more rich, flavorful and higher in fat. It is expensive and I do not have any on hand, so coconut milk works fine as well)
About 2 cups water, more or less as needed
8 deglet noor or 6 medjool dates, chopped (I use kitchen shears and cut in half lengthwise then a few times cross wise)
1/2 tsp ground cloves (really makes the flavor of this recipe)
1/4 cup slivered or chopped almonds
Salt to taste

Stir teff and 1/2 cup of water in a glass container, cover loosely with a towel and leave to soak overnight on the counter.

In the morning pour the entire contents into a saucepan, add about 1 cup additional water and bring to a boil. Stir, lower heat and add coconut milk (if using coconut butter do not add at this point yet) a wire whisk is best for the stirring. Simmer on low for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Teff soaks up a lot of water, much like polenta, so you may need more than the recipe calls for. Add half of the dates, the ground cloves and about 1/2 cup more water. Wisk/stir and simmer about 10 more minutes. The dates will almost dissolve in the porridge and become a natural sweetener.

Remove from heat and stir in chopped almonds, remaining dates and if using coconut butter, the coconut butter at this point. Add a pinch of salt, to taste. You can also add a bit of honey if you like it sweeter.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tempeh-Potato Hash

Improvised from another recipe, as usual. A hearty vegan breakfast. Each serving provides about 12 grams of protein: as much as you would get in 2 eggs.

Serves 2

4 oz. organic tempeh (the tempeh at Trader Joe's is so cheap, like $1.69 for an 8 oz. package)
6 oz. shredded hashbrown potatoes (or a couple cups peeled and shredded or diced potatoes)
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 TBSP refined coconut or sesame oil (the refined oils taste neutral, not like coconut or sesame)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Heat about 1/2 TBSP of the oil in a large skillet on medium heat, and saute the onion and bell peppers until soft and lightly browned, several minutes. Add 1 more TBSP oil, heat for a minute and add potatoes. Stir and then allow to brown undisturbed for about 4 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up brown underside, stir and allow to brown undisturbed again for a few more minutes. Continue to brown until desired crispness, being careful not to burn. Resist the urge to stir a lot as then it will not brown, you will need to scrape up the browned bits but that is fine. May require more oil, especially if using fresh potatoes. Sprinkle lightly with salt and transfer to another dish, set aside.

Heat remaining 1/2 TBSP oil in the same skillet and crumble tempeh into the pan (use your fingers and crumble it, just like feta cheese). Sprinkle Bragg's or soy sauce and stir. Cook and stir occasionally until browned, about 5 minutes. Return potatoes to the pan, stir in smoked paprika and stir and warm all thoroughly.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with ketchup, hot sauce or salsa as desired.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Menu for the Week

Currently I am planning my menus to start on Wednesday, as I hit up Henry's for the double sales on produce on Wednesdays. Many people in the past have been interested in my meal planning so I thought that I would share. I will try to post it weekly.

Now that I am pretty efficient with cooking, shopping sales and food budgeting I am more flexible. For example, if I plan one green veggie on my menu but another is on sale, I'll swap it out. Also, since I'm not working and don't have to be so rigid with planning I'll switch days, or make something different entirely, since I have a pretty good mental inventory of what I have on hand. I also have 5 vegan and vegetarian cookbooks from the library right now so I am having a lot of fun with those.

In addition to these we usually have 3 snacks per day (mid-morning, afternoon and evening). It's amazing what volume of food you can eat on a vegan diet and just get enough calories. Snacks are usually fruit, veggies and hummus or other dip, apple with almond butter, ants-on-a-log, a handful of almonds and dates, brown rice cakes, smoothies, cereal, dark chocolate, occasionally soy or coconut milk yogurt, etc.

You also may think this menu sounds like nothing but carbs, but that is a big misconception with vegan diets. I log my calories on and ALWAYS meet my protein RDA without even trying. For example: the breakfast burrito I make with hashbrowns, beans and a whole grain tortilla sounds like pure carbs, but in actuality it provides 12 grams of protein.

At any rate, hope the ideas help!

B: Trader Joe's Force Primeval Bar (like a whole grain bagel stick) with peanut butter and honey (yes, I am not a real vegan), OJ, tea
L: Chickpea salad sandwich on Ezekiel 4:9 bread
D: Penne Arrabbiata (with brown rice pasta), Tuscan chard (with pine nuts, raisins, lemon juice and olive oil)

B: Tempeh-potato hash, OJ
L: Leftovers
D: 7 bean & barley soup, blueberry muffins

B: Teff porridge with coconut, almonds and dates, OJ, tea
L: Leftovers
D: Out

B: Whole-grain pancakes with warm apple topping, maple syrup, Earth Balance, OJ, tea
L: Sandwich with jarred roasted red peppers, marinated artichokes, raw spinach, pesto and Vegenaise
D: Veggie-loaf (seitan and beans), roasted acorn squash, orange broccoli (simmered with a bit of OJ and Bragg's Liquid Aminos)

B: Veggie-benedict (tomato, avocado and cashew "hollandaise" sauce), OJ, tea
L: Home fellowship potluck, bring side
D: Vegan Trader Joe's appetizers: Spicy Spinach Thin Crust Pizzas, Thai Vegetable Gyoza with home made dipping sauce

B: Peanut butter cookie oatmeal (peanut butter, raisins, flaxseed stirred in), OJ, tea
L: Leftovers
D: Amy's California Burger (made with bulgur/wheat and veggies, no soy isolates) with carmelized onions and sauteed mushrooms on Ezekiel 4:9 burger buns, broccoli slaw (frugal use of broccoli stalks!)

B: Breakfast burrito (hash browns, home-made beans, salsa on Ezekiel 4:9 tortilla), OJ, tea
L: Veggie-loaf (leftover from Sat) sandwiches (with Vegenaise, ketchup, lettuce, tomato and shredded raw beets and carrots, fruit
D: Chana masala (chickpea/garbanzo bean curry), brown rice, spinach masala (with chiles, onion and garlic), Indian salad (like pico de gallo with cucumber)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Banana-Nut Bread Oatmeal

Take care of most of your daily recommendation for (vegan) omega-3s with this yummy oatmeal.

Serves 2

1 cup rolled oats (Preferably soaked overnight in 1 1/2 cups water, cover and leave on counter. If you skip this step you will need to add 1 cup water with the soy milk when cooking)
1 cup organic soy or almond milk (Or regular milk. Soy milk has some omega-3's, almond and cow's milk do not, unless you get high quality grass-fed milk)
1 large or 2 small bananas, sliced
1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped
2 TBSP ground flax seeds (flax seed meal)(best to grind your own fresh)
1 tsp flax seed oil (optional)
1 TBSP pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg)
Pinch of salt, to taste

Bring oatmeal, it's soaking liquid and soy milk to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook about 3 minutes. Add about 1/2 the sliced bananas, vanilla and pumpkin pie spice and cook and stir for about 2 minutes more. Turn off heat and stir in maple syrup, walnuts and ground flax seeds. Allow to cool for a few minutes and stir in flax seed oil (if you are short on time just leave the flax seed oil out, do not stir it in while cooking or even while still very hot, otherwise the omega-3's in the oil will be damaged and unsafe). Add salt to taste and top with remaining banana slices. Feel free to add more banana as desired.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tofu Scramble Burritos

My usual Sunday breakfast, which I just had. I like have this with grapefruit on the side sprinkled with sucanat/Rapadura (organic raw sugar, before all the good stuff is taken out of it). Organic is mostly out of our budget right now, but the two things I ALWAYS buy organic are corn and the bit of soy I eat, to avoid GMOs (even though that is sadly becoming impossible).

Serves 2

6 oz. (about 2/5ths an average package) of organic firm tofu
2 tsp coconut or sesame oil (the healthiest to use for cooking, the fats in olive oil aren't so healthy cooked, better to sprinkle on salads or already cooked food)
2 tsp Bragg's Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1/2 tsp tumeric (a bright yellow spice used in Indian cooking, it's flavor is mild...slightly mustard-like. Is a good anti-inflammatory spice)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated/shredded
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach (a staple in my freezer, you can do a million things with it, quick, easy and nutritious...frozen veggies are actually as equally nutritious as fresh)
2 sprouted wheat tortillas (Ezekiel 4:9 or Alvarado Street Bakery make good ones)
Salsa, as desired

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add shredded carrots and stirfry for a minute or two. Crumble tofu into skillet (literally pick it up in your hands and crumble, much like feta cheese), sprinkle tumeric over the mixture and stir to evenly coat tofu with tumeric. Drizzle Braggs or soy sauce and stir well again. Add frozen spinach to skillet, stir and cover with a lid. Allow spinach to steam for a couple of minutes or until warm.

Warm/soften tortillas slightly by turning on a low flame on the stove top (only works with a gas stove). Very carefully lay tortilla directly on the flame, and heat or a few seconds...watching carefully to not burn. Flip and warm on other side. Alternatively if you have and electric stove you can heat tortillas in a skillet or in a microwave.

Serve on sprouted wheat tortillas and top with salsa, as desired. Also good served on 4 corn tortillas instead.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Open Face Broiled Tomato and Daiya Sandwich

This is comfort food for me, and I had it for lunch today (along with a simple creamy zucchini-leek soup). I used to make it with real cheese. As a rule I don't do fake foods (just real tofu, tempeh and soy milk on occasion), but Daiya cheese is my one exception. Primarily because there are not a lot of scary ingredients in it: just oil, pea protein, flour and soy. Second, it actually tastes decent...even according to my cheese addicted husband. It also melts and stretches, unlike many vegan cheeses. But disclaimer, it is NOT cheese, so don't expect it to taste exactly like it.

I don't consider it a health food, but rather an accent to an already substantial and healthy dish. As in this recipe I use good quality sprouted grain bread and lots of fresh tomatoes. Sometimes I'll use just a sprinkle on a home-made whole wheat pizza with lots of veggies, or a burritos with beans, veggies and a whole wheat tortilla. You get the idea. The other trick in using it, if you experiment with it is to use just a doesn't taste very good to use a lot of it.

Serves 1
2 slices whole wheat bread (I used Ezekiel 4:9 sprouted grain bread) or 1 English muffin, split
2 TBSP-1/4 cup (enough to layer over bread) Cheddar Style Daiya Shreds
1/2 large tomato, sliced....or enough to create a layer of tomato slices over each slice of bread
1 TBSP Vegenaise (I like the Reduced Fat Flaxseed and Olive Oil version, I swear it's even tastier than mayo...even Steve agrees)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat broiler (low, if your broiler has options). Spread each slice of bread or English muffin half with Vegenaise. Layer tomatoes evenly over each slice of bread, and sprinkle tomato layer lightly with salt and pepper. Sprinkle evenly with Daiya. Carefully transfer to a baking sheet. Broil for a few minutes until Daiya is slightly melted, and sandwich is slightly golden brown (watch carefully so it doesn't burn!). May use real cheddar cheese if you prefer.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Warm Quinoa Salad Bowl

It may seem strange to mix warm cooked grains with salad greens, but this is delicious and nutritious. The warmth of the grain seems to allow for less oil in the dressing. I threw it together for lunch the other day and thought others may enjoy it as well.

If you have never tried or cooked quinoa you MUST try some ASAP. It has the highest protein content of any grain, and is in fact a complete protein (yep, just like meat).

Serves 2

1/2 cup dry quinoa, cooked according to package directions (cooks up to about 1 1/2 cups cooked)
3 cups mixed salad greens, rinsed and chopped coarsely
2 TBSP minced green onion
2 TBSP slivered or chopped almonds
2 TBSP raisins
2 1/2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 tsp each olive oil and flaxseed oil (or just olive oil)

Equally divide warm cooked quinoa in 2 bowls. Sprinkle the green onion, almonds and raisins over the quinoa and top with salad greens. Drizzle vinegar and oil(s) evenly over each bowl. Toss well to mix and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste.