Thanksgiving 2014 Cooking Recap

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving yesterday! I thought I’d give you a little recap of what I made last night. My mom and grandma also made some more traditional Thanksgiving staples but here are my healthy, plant-based and Gray-Eats-Green-approved Thanksgiving contributions.

Vegan Cornbread Muffin recipe adapted from Food52 served with Cranberry-Pear Sauce recipe adapted from Oh She Glows and homemade “honey butter.”
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Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Cashew “Cream” and Fried Sage Leaves. This was a completely original recipe that I will have to post on the blog soon. The soup ended up being a big hit with everyone from my younger sisters to my grandparents and it was nice sitting down to an “appetizer” course, a Thanksgiving first for us.

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Butternut Squash, Brussels Sprout, and Bread Stuffing with Apples recipe adapted from Food52. Made with local, Detroit Avalon Bakery Motown Multigrain Bread.

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Here is a look my Thanksgiving plate. Salad with roasted asparagus and maple mustard dressing, a baked sweet potato, a corn bread muffin with honey butter, cranberry sauce and stuffing.

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Good luck to anyone participating in Black Friday Shopping today and enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers!

Pre-Thanksgiving Tuesday in Detroit

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending the morning in downtown Detroit with someone I am very thankful for, my mom.

What started as a Thanksgiving dinner Eastern Market shop quickly turned into a lovely morning expedition exploring some of the cool spots that the city has to offer.

I recently accepted a job offer in Detroit so this is not the first time you will be hearing about this awesome city! I love the hip vibe and gritty charm of the city and I am excited to be a part of the movement and revitalization. I also have high hopes of helping Detroit blossom into more of a health and wellness hotspot.

After spending some time in Brooklyn this past fall, I’ve noticed that Detroit gives me a similar feel. The cities share a strong emphasis on local and artisan products along with a unique smattering of individuals, industrial roots, and underdog attitude. I got the chance to soak up a bunch of these vibes yesterday morning.

Eastern Market

We started off at Eastern Market, one of the best farmer’s markets in the country and a signature Detroit destination. While this market is normally hopping and plentiful during the summer months and on Saturdays, we were let down on this special Holiday Market Tuesday. The local vendors were extremely scarce due to the off-season time of year, and the market was focused more on handmade items and imported produce. We did purchase some local cranberries, shallots, onions and some imported sweet potatoes, but decided to buy the rest of our holiday haul at Trader Joe’s.

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Avalon Bakery

After being let down by Eastern Market, I wanted to continue my Detroit adventure. I had my heart set on making my vegan stuffing out of Avalon Motown Multigrain bread so we headed over to the bakery. I hadn’t been to Avalon in a while and I was impressed and excited by the freshness and variety of baked goods at the flagship store. We got two of the multigrain loaves, a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and my mom got a cherry walnut scone to snack on.

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Shinola

After Avalon, we headed over to Canfield Avenue, home of Shinola and some other hip hot spots. My mom had never seen the Shinola store before and had been feigning to check it out. I love the watches, handmade leather goods and design of the store, the new Commonwealth coffee bar doesn’t hurt either. I find that Commonwealth has some of the best coffee in town.

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Willy’s Detroit

After admiring leather goods at Shinola, we headed a couple doors down to Willy’s Detroit. This was my first time checking out Willy’s, I had heard great things about this place and I was not let down. They are also home to Drought juice, a new favorite of mine, so I couldn’t help but purchase one of their 4oz. immunity potions. I also got an awesome gift for a friend. All the clothes and cool accessories stressed the fact that they were made in the USA. So cool.

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I love whenever I have the opportunity to explore downtown and I am absolutely thrilled that I now have the opportunity to work down there and are going to get to enjoy it everyday.

Now back to my Thanksgiving preparations. Have a cozy day-before-Thanksgiving Wednesday!

Monday Link Up [11/24/14]

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of The Monday Link Up! 

Hope everyone had a nice a relaxing weekend and is looking forward to the short week ahead; whether you are taking off Wednesday or Friday, have a school break or just get Thursday off, Thanksgiving week, weekend, or day is always a nice time to relax and recharge during this gloomy transitional season.

I hope everyone caught my Big Fall Salad recipe & Friendsgiving post yesterday. If not you can go check it out, here.

Monday Link Up

1. I know I put together a Vegan Thanksgiving Link Up post last week, but this Ultimate Guide To A Healthy and Happy Plant-Based Thanksgiving by Don’t Loose The Cow is the most comprehensive guide to a vegan Thanksgiving I’ve seen on the web thus far. Matt’s blog is new to me and another excellent resource for handling social situations as a vegan with ease.

2. While it may only be November, winter is certainly here and these 10 Tips To Beat the Winter Blahs from MindBodyGreen couldn’t be more spot on. So far I have been trying to eat and drink a ton of warming foods and beverages (tea and soup!) as well as enjoying hot baths. I have noticed that getting motivation to workout in the winter is tough, but once you do it you feel better than ever. Even 30 minutes on my home elliptical trainer or a short, bundled up walk on a freezing-but-sunny day does the trick.

3. Speaking of the winter blahs, nothing is more “blah” in the winter than coming down with something. We tend to run ourselves into the ground, guzzle orange juice and over-the-counter pre-cold meds when we feel something coming on, then end up out of work or on yet another antibiotic, which can be very damaging to ones health if taken too frequently. Enter the Immunity & Wellness Guide from Robyn Youkilis, a health and cooking coach who graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I first learned about her when she gave an online lecture for IIN. Though some of her tips and tricks may appear to be hippie witchcraft compared to a prescription from your local CVS, I’m telling you, they really work!

4. This one is not nutrition related but here is a review of a movie I saw this past Thursday, Whiplash. The movie was incredibly well done with great performances from Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. But what I loved most is the theme and the message, and this review from Eugene Daily News sums it up with the question, “how far are you willing to go to realize your dreams and potential and at what cost?” Though this movie is about music and drumming, the theme of finding balance in ones life between passion and addiction can be applied to anything.

5. And finally, another Thanksgiving roundup post. This time its from Edible Perspective and its all about the food! I hope her stunning food photography and brilliant recipe ideas delight and inspire you in the days to come.

Recipe: The Big Fall Salad

From Instagramming a picture of avocado toast, to binge watching the latest Netflix TV series in one sitting, to posting a Buzzfeed article on Facebook about the either of the above, it seems as if it can be hard to keep up with the many trends of Millennials. Enter the latest and greatest seasonal trend for the average American 20-something; Friendsgiving. Friendsgiving is a Thanksgiving themed dinner that is usually served potluck style where friends get together before Thanksgiving (or during Thanksgiving) and celebrate what’s traditionally a family holiday, with each other.

Friendsgiving is unique in the fact that it is one of the few trends that is not inherently narcissistic. No matter if you are hipsterbasic or somewhere in between, Friendsgiving is a time for Millennials to gather together, reunite and catch up, give thanks for their friendships, and of course, do what they do best, drink. And, if you are a kitchen junkie like me, Friendsgiving is a great time to experiment with new recipes, show off your cooking skills to a new audience and practice some fall favorites for the big family Thanksgiving event.

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a “Friendsgiving” potluck dinner myself. When attending dinners and get togethers, I am always faced with the challenge of bringing a dish that is healthy and meets my dietary needs and one that the average eater will enjoy. Luckily, with awesome blogs and cookbooks out there, such a Oh She Glows and Edible Perspective, its not too difficult. I think my mom is always a little worried I will turn off the crowd with some sort of weird, ethic, vegan, pile-of-mush type of dish, but I know that the best way to get people to try new-to-them, healthy dishes is by making them look as visually appealing, normal and inviting as possible.

I attended a few dinner parties and holiday dinners this fall and one ingredient that consistantly dazzled and pleased the crowd from both a visual and palate standpoint is delicata squash. Something about the unique shape and colorful, edible skin really gets the crowd going. Delicata squash is low in calories and high in nutrition and flavor. It’s an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron. It’s small shape and size and thin skin make it one of the easiest squashes to work with. Unfortunately, squash season is coming to a close, but I thought I’d bust out delicata one more time for Friendsgiving.

I made a couple versions of this salad so far but this one was by far the best. There are a lot of components to this dish but I think you will find it is worthwhile in the end, it’s a huge crowd pleaser and the leftovers make for an excellent lunch the next day.

Curly kale gives this salad a sturdy, cold weather base, while the pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and maple mustard vinaigrette added a classic fall flare. I decided to use millet instead of a more typical grains, due to its warming properties and strong nutritional profile. The roasted brussels sprouts and red onion round out this dish by giving it some depth of flavor. And of course, the delicata squash is the star of the show.

I quadrupled this recipe for the Friendsgiving potluck dinner but I’d say this recipe will comfortably serve 4 people.

The Big Fall Salad 

Ingredients 

  • 1 head of curly kale
  • 1/2 cup of millet
  • 1/3 cup of dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 3 cups of shaved brussels sprouts (1 full bag of Trader Joe’s Shaved Brussels Sprouts)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 delicata squash
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 batch of Maple Mustard Vinaigrette
    • 1/4 cup whole grain seedy mustard
    • 1/4 cup maple syrup
    • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Mix shredded brussels sprouts, red onion with olive oil, maple syrup and salt & pepper to taste
  3. Roast for about 20-30 minutes or until crispy. Let cool.
  4. Combine the 1/2 cup millet with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until all of the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes,) fluff with a fork and let cool.
  5. Cut the squash into thin rings, place the squash on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil, lightly season with salt and pepper and bake for about 30 minutes (until brown), flipping once halfway through
  6. Chop the kale into bite sized pieces
  7. Whisk or blend the dressing ingredients together (I prefer to blend for a smooth consistency)
  8. Combine the kale, millet, brussels sprouts/onion, cranberries, pumpkin seeds and lightly toss with the dressing
  9. Arrange the roasted delicata squash rings atop of the salad
  10. Serve with extra dressing and enjoy!

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I also made this Oh She Glows Saweet! Potato Casserole with a Crunchy Nut Crumble that I highly recommend. Sweet without being overly sweet and much healthier to some of the more traditional sweet potato side dishes, this could almost make a delicious breakfast dish or even a dessert!

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Happy Friendsgiving and Familysgiving to you all! Looking forward to celebrating more on the blog throughout the week!

Recipe: Vegan Pumpkin Buckwheat Pancakes

Buckwheat. Did you know this Russian native plant isn’t actually wheat at all, but a highly nutritious, gluten-free pseudo-grain that comes from the rhubarb family? Rich in vitamin E,  B-complex vitamins and amino acids, Buckwheat helps to strengthen kidneys, stabilize blood sugar, benefit circulation, build blood and neutralize toxic acidic waste.

Buckwheat is also super filling and has a nice hearty texture, perfect for pancakes.

The only problem with buckwheat is that the flour version is fairly hard to find. There are two types of buckwheat, raw buckwheat and toasted buckwheat, or kasha. Toasted buckwheat is easier to find in flour form, I have worked with it before and it gives baked goods a very dense, earthy flavor, not great for pancakes and not great for people who are just getting their feet wet in the health food world.

I decided to finally bite the bullet and make my own buckwheat flour. I bought a bag of raw buckwheat groats from the bulk section of my local health food store. A few sections in the Vitamix and boom, you have have a light, finely ground flour perfect for healthy, gluten-free baking. I stored my homemade buckwheat flour in a large mason jar but feel free to use whatever you have.

I have been wanting to make buckwheat pancakes for a while now but just couldn’t find a solid recipe. There are many boxed versions on the market but many contain dairy, eggs or weird additives. And after scouring the web for a solid buckwheat pancake recipe that involved fairly simple ingredients, I decided to just come up with my own.

I gave this recipe a fall twist with the addition of pumpkin and cinnamon, you could also throw in a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice if you’d like. You could also sub mashed ripe banana for the pumpkin.

Buckwheat Pumpkin Pancakes (vegan, gluten free and oil free)

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour (ground from raw buckwheat groats)
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin purée
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 medjool dates (could alternatively used 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup, agave, honey or sweetener of choice)
  • Coconut oil or coconut oil spray for cooking

Instructions

  1. Mix together the buckwheat flour, oat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl
  2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth
  3. Pour the blender mixture into the flour mixture and mix until just combined (do not over mix)
  4. Let the batter sit for at least 20 minutes and up to overnight in the fridge
  5. Lightly grease a pan with coconut oil and pour your desired amount of batter onto the pan
  6. Cook for a few minutes on each side, until done to your liking
  7. Top with Earth Balance, pure maple syrup, nut butter, honey, banana, chopped dried fruit, etc. and enjoy!
  8. Freeze any leftovers in a large ziplock bag and reheat in the toaster oven for an easy weekday breakfast!

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Monday Link Up: Thanksgiving Edition [11/17/14]

Good Morning and Happy Monday! I am writing this post as I sip on my biodegradable french roast K-cup coffee with a splash of heated up Califa Farms “Holiday Nog” almond milk (both new products here in the Gray Eats Green kitchen.) The ground outside has a thin white layer on it, the leaves on the trees have been replaced with snow as well and my weather app reads 30°F. Although it’s still only mid-November, I’d say winter is officially upon us.

I was going to save this Thanksgiving themed Link Up for next week (the Monday before Thanksgiving) but I figured you may need more than three days to mentally and physically prepare yourself for this monstrosity of a holiday.

No matter what you celebrate the rest of the year, I’ve noticed that Thanksgiving is one of the most tradition and family centric holidays and definitely the most food centric holiday. For example, in my family we observe the Jewish holidays. We are usually are scattered about the country for Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah. For other secular holidays, such as Fourth of July, New Years or Halloween, we usually celebrate with friends. But Thanksgiving is the one time of the year where our entire family comes together to celebrate together.

This can definitely create some stress and anxiety that isn’t associated with the other holidays, and my extensive blog reading and web searching has led me to the conclusion that many people feel the same way. Something that adds fuel to the stress and anxiety of high intensity, close proximity and highly concentrated family time are different eating styles. No matter the kind of lifestyle you live, no one gives you grief about your eating style quite like your family. As a childhood “picky eater” who turned into a “health nut” (in general my M.O. was avoiding white flour, sugar and processed foods) and now a “vegan” with a large family I can say I have much experience with the trials and tribulations that come along with a large family and an interesting eating history. So, if you are looking for tips and tricks on how to make your specific eating style work with your large family gathering, look no further than this week’s Link Up.

Even though most of these articles have to do with “vegan-ising” Thanksgiving, from what to do about the food itself to explaining your choices to loved ones, this information (and the delicious recipes) can really apply to anyone who has recently made any sort of healthy changes or long time healthy eaters who get slightly anxious during the annual reunion and feast. So without further ado…

1. Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete has one of the best blog post archives on the web on topics surrounding how to be a socially acceptable and low maintenance vegan. His laid back writing style matches his non-preachy attitude, and his How I Do Thanksgiving As A Vegan post is no exception. No Meat Athlete is probably the source that most influenced my transition to a plant based diet. Matt gives us some excellent tips on “doing” Thanksgiving as a vegan and reminds us that this holiday, like all holidays, is truly about family and friends, not the food.

2. Gena of Choosing Raw is a blogger whose vegan social tips rival her vegan recipes in both ease and palatability. Although this post, “thanksgiving jitters: tips for healthy eating at family gatherings” was written five Thanksgivings ago, the information is as relevant as ever.  Her thorough post emphasizes planning ahead, walks you through different scenarios you may encounter with different family members, and once again reminds us that food is just food and family and friends are really what we are celebrating.

3. Angela of Oh She Glows supplies us with more amazing tips to navigating the holidays as a vegan and some drool-worthy recipes. If you peak around her site you’ll find even more Thanksgiving recipes from throughout the years, like this post or her entire Thanksgiving recipe collection

4. Vegan Thanksgiving 101 by Happy. Healthy. Life. takes it back to basics and gives you no fail tips and advices for hosting a vegan Thanksgiving that will please omnivores or being a vegan guest at an omnivore Thanksgiving.

5. Now let’s talk Tofurky. I couldn’t help but include another post from Choosing Raw. Gena celebrates the 20th year anniversary of the Tofurky brand by celebrating the product and the beloved bird its named after. Although I tend to stick with plant-based whole foods and avoid meat substitutes, and I have never actually tried any of the Tofurky products, I appreciate this brand for being a pioneer in the plant-based movement and working to make these types of options easily accessible, familiar and comforting, and a excellent transition food and alternative to the real thing.

So there you have it, five awesome sites and sources for surviving Thanksgiving as a vegan (or just a health conscious person in general.)

What are you favorite vegan Thanksgiving recipes and tips for having a smooth holiday with family and friends? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Recipe: Carrot-Ginger Soup and Fall Harvest Salad

Two posts in one day, wow, I’m on a roll!

I had leftover carrots, ginger and onion from making ginger dressing yesterday so I decided to whip up a Carrot-Ginger soup alongside a fall themed salad for lunch.

The Carrot-Ginger soup tastes just like something you’d find in a restaurant! It’s smooth and creamy, despite being almost oil-free and completely dairy free, with a nice kick from the ginger. Ginger is known to have some pretty powerful health benefits, from treating nausea to preventing cancer, but these days (cold season) I’m all about the immune boosting properties of ginger and love adding some into my diet in any way I can.

Don’t read too far into this soup recipe, basically what I’m saying is that all of the measurements are pretty rough, I just used what I had on hand so feel free to adjust to taste. As long as you have plenty of carrots, ginger, an onion and a box of veggie broth on hand you are on your way to an absolutely delicious soup for a chilly Fall (Winter?) day.

Carrot Ginger Soup (Serves 4)

Ingredients 

  • Olive oil spray or 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion (I had 3/4 left of a medium onion)
  • 7 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped (this is just what I had on hand but feel free to adjust size and amount of carrots)
  • ~2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (probably equivalent to 2 or 3 Tbsp., I started with a little and then added more toward the end of the cooking process)
  • 4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
  • ~1/4 cup of plain unsweetened almond milk (optional, use more or less to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Lightly spray the bottom of a large pot with olive oil
  • Chop the onion and sauté in the oil until translucent, season the onion with salt and pepper, stirring every so often to prevent burning
  • Once the onion has caramelized slightly, add the roughly chopped carrots and sauté for a few more minutes
  • Add the chopped ginger
  • Add the broth and bring everything to a boil
  • Simmer with a lid on for about 25-30 minutes or until the carrots are soft
  • Use a hand blender or transfer everything into a regular blender and blend until smooth
  • If you used a regular blended, transfer everything back into the pot
  • Add the optional almond milk (unsweetened coconut, soy or hemp would probably work great too) and season to taste with salt and pepper
  • Garnish with some pomegranate seeds and pepitas and enjoy!

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Fall Harvest Salad

This salad is more of an inspiration and suggestion rather than an actual recipe. I just through together the following:

  • Arugula
  • Roasted cubed butternut squash
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Pepitas
  • Avocado

And topped with a dressing that consisted of:

  • Dijon mustard
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Maple syrup
  • Olive oil
  • Salt + pepper

I didn’t measure any of the dressing ingredients at all, just eyeballed everything and shook it up in a mini mason jar, adding and little of this or a little of that to taste. The salad hardly required any dressing due to the addition of smooth and creamy avocado and butternut squash. I strongly recommend making this salad, as it is a great Fall-ish way to get the benefits of raw dark, leafy greens in when all you want to eat is soup.

Have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend!