Recipe: 3-Bean Millet Chili & Sweet Potatoes

With temperatures below zero this week, only one thing would do. A huge pot of vegan chili.

I have made countless variations of vegan chili, it is one of my favorite (and one of the easiest) things to make. Not to mention it makes for unreal leftovers and is even better the second (and third, and forth…) day.

It’s fun playing around with various spice levels and combinations, add-ins and toppings, bases and beans, all while still knowing its going to turn out great. While I have tried quite a few “meat substitute” bases, such as quinoa, tempeh, lentils, sweet potatoes, one that I keep coming back to is millet. It’s size and texture is perfect for chili and the grain has many health benefits.

I served this particular batch up over a baked sweet potato and topped it with sliced avocado, fresh cilantro and hot sauce.

Ingredients

For the chili

  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 stalk of celery (about 6-8 ribs)
  • 1 bell pepper (I used red but feel free to use whatever color you want)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • a pinch of cayenne (to taste)
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Two 28oz. cans of fire-roasted tomatoes (I used one can of crushed and one can of diced)
  • 2 cups of millet
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 can of white beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of red beans
  • 3/4 cup of frozen corn

For the potato assembly 

  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Sweet potatoes

Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Pinch holes in the sweet potatoes, wrap in foil and bake in the oven until soft (about 1-2 hours depending on size of potatoes)

Dice the onion, celery, bell pepper and jalapeño. Lightly coat a large pot with olive oil, sauté the onion, celery, bell pepper and jalapeño until soft and translucent.

Season the vegetables with the spices until fragrant.

Add the cans of tomatoes, millet and vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the millet is cooked.

Add the corn and the beans and continue to cook on low, adding water to thin out as needed.

Taste and season more to your liking.

Cut open the baked sweet potatoes and fill a half or whole potato (depending on how hungry you are) with a large ladle-full of chili. Top with slices of avocado, a sprinkle with fresh cilantro and a few dashes of hot sauce.

Advertisements

Recipe: Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Cashew Cream and Fried Sage Leaves

Good morning, everyone!

I cannot seem to get warm between the months of November and August.

But I’ve noticed a couple things that help; hand warmers, fireplaces, coffee, tea and soup. 

Since I’ve started working with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition curriculum and learning more about eating localseasonal and listening to ones body, I have tried my best to follow my body and give it what it needs.

For example, when I wake up in the Spring, Summer and early Fall I tend to crave a big green smoothie. But once about October hits, I no longer crave a green smoothie upon waking, but a warm, soothing bowl of oatmeal instead. Rather than forcing a green smoothie down my throat, I listen to my body and give it what it wants. Another example is gravitating toward a warming cooked dish rather than a raw vegetable salad for lunch. And soup, lots of soup, I could eat soup at every meal if it was possible.

Thanksgiving is already home to many warming vibes, but soup rarely makes an appearance on the Thanksgiving table. Due to the fact that my family had a smaller Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to start us off with a soup appetizer.

I thought I’d showcase one of the most classic of fall vegetables, butternut squash. There are many butternut squash recipes floating around the web, but I wanted to create my own version with just the right texture and the right amount of spices.

I also decided to give this squash a slight Indian vibe with the addition of curry powder and coconut milk. I find the spices in curry powder to be extremely warming and coconut milk gave this a creamy feel. But worry not, both my grandparents, as well as my 13-year-old sister, who are all picky eaters in their own right, really enjoyed this soup.

IMG_6329

The recipe is pretty forgiving. Add more or less seasoning, adjust liquid and thicken to taste, increase coconut milk and decrease broth for a creamier texture, feel free to play around with the recipe, I assure you it is hard to mess up.

Ingredients

For The Soup

  • olive oil to taste
  • 1 onion
  • 1 shallot
  • 1-2 tsp. of curry powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ~4 lbs. of butternut squash (I used one 2 lb. bag and one mid-sized butternut squash to experiment)
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened, coconut milk

For The Cashew Cream

  • 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked overnight or at least an hour
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened, unflavored plant-milk (I used coconut)
  • The juice from half a lemon
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

For The Fried Sage Leaves

  • Olive oil
  • Fresh sage leaves
  • Sea salt

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375F
  • Toss the cubed squash with olive oil or spray the halved squash with olive oil and sprinkle with seas salt
  • Roast until soft- about 45 minutes
  • Meanwhile, sauté the onion and shallot in olive oil in a big soup pot on the stove
  • Sauté on low heat and slowly caramelize the onion, season with salt, pepper, and curry powder. Adjust to taste.
  • Once the squash is roasted, add it to the soup pot with the caramelized onion, add the broth and coconut milk
  • Using a hand blender, blend the mixture until smooth or alternatively, transfer mixture until a high speed blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Adjust seasonings to taste
  • Serve hot or store in the fridge for a few days and reheat when you’re ready to eat. Garnish with the cashew cream and fried sage leaves. Enjoy!
  • For the cashew cream: Drain the soaked cashews and combine with plant-milk, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth.
  • For the fried sage leaves: heat olive oil in a small sauce small until it shimmers, toss in a couple of sage leaves and fry for a few seconds on each side, remove with tongs and put on a paper towel to dry. Store in an air-tight container for up to a couple of days.

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!

IMG_6214

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!

IMG_6221

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!

IMG_6154 IMG_6159

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!

IMG_6104

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!

Vegan Cornbread & Lentil Chili

While I might have jumped the gun by making soup a few times in September and October, November is now here and I am officially in Soup Season mode.

I love making a big batch of a hearty vegan soup or chili on Sunday or Monday and having it on hand to heat up for an easy lunch or dinner throughout the week.

What I love most about soups and chilis is that you don’t even need a recipe, they come together so easily and its so easy to add a little of this or a little of that to adjust to your liking, and this recipe was no exception, it came together on the spot. Feel free to adjust any of the seasonings and vegetables to your liking. If you want a more mild chili, omit the jalapeño or chipotle pepper.

Vegan Lentil Chili 

Ingredients 

  • tsp. of olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bell pepper (I used green)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce (these come in a can in the Mexican section of most grocery stores)
  • 1 28oz. can of fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 1 15oz. can of pinto beans
  • 1 15oz. can of red kidney beans
  • 1/2 of bottle of lager style beer (optional)
  1. Chop the onion and mince the garlic (I used a frozen cube of garlic)
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft and translucent
  3. Season the onion and garlic with the spices (adjust more or less of each to your taste)
  4. Chop the bell pepper, add it to the pot
  5. Chop the jalapeño (remove seeds) and the chipotle pepper, add to pot
  6. Let everything sauté for about 15 minutes so the flavors can develop, add a little bit of broth, water or more oil if things start to stick to the bottle of the pan
  7. Add the can of crushed tomatoes, 4 cups of broth and 1 cup of red lentils
  8. Let cook until lentils are soft, about 25 minutes
  9. Rinse and drain the beans and add them to the pot
  10. Add the optional beer, or more broth or water if it needs thinning  (I have heard that the flavor of beer really enhances chili so I thought I’d try it)
  11. Let simmer for a little while longer so flavors can develop
  12. Adjust seasonings to taste
  13. Add toppings (I used guacamole and cilantro)
  14. Enjoy with a side of vegan cornbread! See recipe below

IMG_5952

Vegan Cornbread

Recipe adapted from THE SIMPLE VEGANISTA, my edits are in italics. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup organic corn meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina)
  • 1 cup spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour or all-purpose gluten free (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 5 tablespoons pure cane sugar (I omitted the sugar because I used sweetened almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup almond milk (I used unflavored, sweetened) 
  • juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (I used ACV) 
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted) or extra light flavored olive oil (I used coconut oil)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare a vegan buttermilk by mixing the almond milk with the lemon or vinegar and set aside.
  3. Mix the chia seeds with the 1/2 cup water, set aside. Let these set for 10 minutes.
  4. Combine all dry ingredients in medium size bowl. Add milk, oil, chia seed mixture and combine making sure to break up any lumps of chia seeds. Pour batter into an 8×8 greased baking pan or dish. (I used a tin pie pan and 25 minutes was a perfect amount of time)
  5. *Optional: Sprinkle with a small handful of frozen corn before baking* 
  6. Bake for 25 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean it’s ready.

If you are not vegan, or a vegan who eats honey; mix a couple of tablespoons of Earth Balance buttery spread with a squirt of honey for a delicious “honey butter” topping or try maple syrup instead. 

IMG_5943  

“Health-o-ween”

Halloween remains my least favorite holiday of the year.

It all starts out innocently enough in what I like to call the “primary years” of Halloween. As a child I have very fond memories of these years; a half day of school complete with class parties and a costume parade, my parents throwing a Halloween party for our family and friends where my dad would get dressed up in the most elaborate and funniest costumes, and finally, trekking through the neighborhood, collecting a huge pillowcase full of candy, sorting and eating it, and getting to stay up “late.” Congratulations, young child, you have now hoarded enough processed junk to have a piece in your lunch box every day and a piece after dinner every night until Thanksgiving. Halloween is like a child’s dream.

But then things take a turn for the worse; the “awkward years” of Halloween begin. You know you’re too old to get dressed up and go trick-or-treating, but your parents deem you too young to go to a party. I spent a year or two hanging out, watching my little sisters dress up, and answering the door for trick-or-treaters, all while trying not to get candy stuck in my braces.

And then the “partying years” begin and Halloween goes from eating processed junk to drinking processed junk. The costumes also make a 180 turn and go from adorable to inappropriate. I never really cared for this side of Halloween and it only got worse during college because my least favorite day turned into my least favorite week, as wearing and admiring scantily clad outfits and binge drinking is like a college kid’s dream. I avoided it the best I could and would succumb to one night of this nonsense by throwing on a festive hat and having a few cocktails but could never really get into it. I think Halloween may be one of the reasons I graduated early, but unfortunately I’ve heard this type of behavior continues through the postgrad years.

As I have become more and more health conscious I’ve gone full circle with my Hallohatred. Yes, I am still not a fan the “awkward years” and the “partying years,” but after reading this story last year about how one women is handing out “fat letters” to overweight and obese kids instead of candy, my feelings about the “primary years” of Halloween have even changed. Sure, this woman may have been wildly offensive and inappropriate, but she raises a good point. Are we simply feeding into one of the biggest problems our country faces by celebrating this holiday?

And in more recent times, as I have become more educated on the effects of childhood obesity, passing out copious amounts of processed sugar to kids is sending the wrong message. Needless to say Halloween is not a very healthful holiday, no matter what age you are. Although other holidays have unhealthful habits attached to them, such as eating too much on Thanksgiving and drinking too much on New Years Eve, I can find the good in those experiences, such as family time and resolutions. But Halloween remains a bit more of a challenge to find the good in.

Luckily, I have found it. By re-“vamping” some Halloween treats, I have turned Halloween in Health-o-ween. As my culinary skills and my health consciousness have increased, every Holiday is a reason to get into the kitchen and cook up some nutrients. From vegan fajitas on Cinco de Mayo to butternut squash hummus on Rosh Hashanah, holidays are a great excuse to break out your culinary best and attempt to get family and friends on the healthy eating bandwagon. Halloween is no exception.

This year, I made “Caramel Apples.” A 100% whole food, plant based treat that tastes like the real deal. I was inspired to make this recipe after listening to an episode of the Rich Roll Podcast featuring Chef AJ, this episode touched on turning the focus of Halloween for kids more on creative costumes and fun games, rather than candy. Of course, not even Health-o-ween would be complete without some sort of treat so that’s where the “Caramel Apples” come in.

The recipe involves using soaked medjool dates and water for the “caramel,” apples (I used Honey Crisps) and a variety of crunchy toppings (I went with crushed peanuts.)

Stick a popsicle stick in an apple, slather on the date purée and roll it in the crushed peanuts, and you have a delicious, all natural, refined sugar free Health-o-ween treat. No tricks here.

You can find the original recipe here.

IMG_5661

However you decide to celebrate this year, have a Happy Health-o-ween!