Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Chick'n Alfredo (Vegan)

I love Italian food! In fact, I one day dream of being an honorary Italian. I assume that if I use enough garlic and kiss my fingertips often it will happen eventually!

This dish received rave reviews in my household tonight. I am pretty sure Silas was filling his legs with food, because there is no way his little stomach could've held all that he ate. The very best part of this recipe is that your kids will totally eat cauliflower, love it, and be none the wiser!

This recipe serves four.

What you'll need:
1 lb of whole wheat pasta of your choice (there might be some left over noodles, I like to save these for lunches)
1 head of cauliflower, separated into florets
1 carton of crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 12.6 oz bag of Gardein crispy tenders
5-6 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp of nutritional yeast
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, separated
1 medium onion, diced
1/4-1/2 cup of soy, almond, rice, or hemp milk
Sea salt and pepper

Optional: fresh flat leaf parsley

In two large pots bring some salted water to a boil. One will be for the pasta, the other for the cauliflower and onion.

Follow the directions on the bag to prepare the chick'n.

In skillet heat a tablespoon of evoo over medium flame. Add the sliced mushrooms and peeled cloves of garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid. Then reduce, and wait for the garlic to caramelize a bit. If you have to separate the mushrooms to one side for the garlic to achieve some color, do so.

When your pots of salted water are boiling, add the noodles to one and the cauliflower florets and diced onion to the other. When a fork can be easily inserted and removed from the largest piece of cauliflower, drain, then pour into the pitcher of your trusty blender.

To the cauliflower and onion, add the other tablespoon of evoo, nutritional yeast, garlic, milk alternative, and pepper. Then puree.

Drain the cooked noodles but do not rinse. The sauce sticks better to the pasta when it has not been rinsed. Assemble you plate with noodles, sauce, mushrooms, chick'n, and flat leaf parsley!


Monday, September 29, 2014

10 Minute Tacos (Vegan)

I cook nearly every meal we eat in this house, and three meals a day seven days a week adds up rather fast. So, when it come to weekday lunches I am looking for fast, easy, and satisfying! This super simple meal rings all of those bells. I am giving ten minutes on this to be safe, but seriously most times I make this (every other day) it is more like a five minute fix. Start your timer ;)

This recipe makes four tacos, but can very easily be doubled, tripled, ect.

What you'll need:
4 fresh flour Tortilla Land tortillas
1 15oz can of chickpeas, drained
1 avocado, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp taco seasoning
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
Desired amount of your favorite salsa

"Amber's recipes: where the measurements for seasonings are made up, and the exact duplication is never guaranteed."

In a dry skillet heated over med-high heat cook your four tortillas. This takes about 30 seconds per side.  Take this time to dice the avocado, and drain the chickpeas.

When the tortillas are finished, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the evoo, chickpeas, and seasonings. Stir until the chickpeas are nicely coated with the seasoning. Cook for an additional 2-3mins.

Spoon a quarter of the seasoned chickpeas into each of the tortillas, along with a quarter of the diced avocado, and the desired amount of salsa.


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Three Cheese Mushroom Spinach Lasagna

Sometimes you just have to indulge. I try to keep dairy out of my life as much as possible, but I just can not deny that cheese. Maybe it doesn't make a difference, but it makes me feel a little better to know that when I am eating off my typical diet, I always try to make the recipe in my very own kitchen. That way I know exactly what I am putting into my mouth.

Now that I've justified my actions, let's get to the goods! Just a word of caution: you may want to invite some friends or family to finish this dish the night you make it, or you may find yourself having the leftovers for breakfast and lunch the next day. Not speaking from experience or anything!

What you'll need:
Marinara Sauce
1 28oz can of tomato puree
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
sea salt and pepper

1 12oz box of whole wheat lasagna noodles (you will not use all of these)
1 16oz package of fresh mozzerella (mine was presliced, this saved time)
1 24oz container of cottage cheese (I used full flavor, I warned you we are indulging here!)
1 8oz block of parmesan cheese, grated
1 12oz container of button mushrooms, sliced
3 cups of fresh spinach
1 tbsp evoo
Sea salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To begin, we are going to throw together our own marinara sauce. In a large pot heat the evoo over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and seasonings. When the onion is cooked through reduce the heat to low and add the cans of tomato. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Allow the sauce to cook for about 15-20mins.

In another large pot fill 3/4 of the way with salted water and bring to a boil. When this boils add your noodles.

In a skillet heat the evoo over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms. Cook until they release their liquid.

Now it is time for assembly. In a large casserole dish cover the bottom with a thin layer of the sauce, to help prevent the noodles from sticking.

Other than this step there is really no rhyme or reason to how I layer the lasagna.


I simply noodle, cheese, cheese, cheese, mushroom, sauce, spinach, noodle, repeat.

For the final or top layer I don't add the spinach or mushroom. No specific reason, I just prefer the cheese and sauce only on the top.

Bake in the 400 degree oven for one hour. Allow to cook for 15 minutes before cutting to serve.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Mushroom Stuffing (Vegan)

So, what do you do when you baked four dozen whole grain rolls for your one year old's first birthday, and you come home with two dozen? You brew some chai tea and get your fall on with some delicious stuffing. Because once a year just ain't enough, babe!

Yesterday, Caleb and I went to Lowes to get some do-dads to make Silas an activity board based off an idea I saw on Pinterest long before he was born. As we were checking out I grabbed a food magazine from the shelf and began flipping through it. There were several fall inspired recipes. Just before I threw the pages closed to save myself the $10 purchase, I caught a glimpse of a stuffing with mushrooms. It looked incredible, and as I have mentioned before if I could bottle the smell of sauteed onion and celery, I would wear it behind my ears like Chanel! So even though I was unable to get the recipe for that beautiful dish what is there to stop me from creating my own? Notta.

What you'll need:
4 cups of a stale whole grain bread
3-4 cups of vegetable broth
1 large onion
4 stalks of celery
7-8 button mushrooms
1/4 cup dried cranberries (I did not have cranberries so I used raisins. I would suggest cranberries!)
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp ground sage
Sea salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Start by dicing the onion and slicing the mushroom and celery. In a large skillet heat the evoo over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and mushrooms. When the onions are translucent add the seasoning and cook until any liquid released has been reduced.

Cube the bread and add to a medium sized casserole dish.

When the seasoned veggies are ready stir them into the bread cubes along with the cranberries. Then add the vegetable broth. Depending on how dry your bread is it may take up to 4 cups. Stir and taste for seasoning. I also added some Earth Balance to help with browning on the top

Bake in the 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until top is nicely browned.


Homemade Vegetable Broth (Vegan) (Gluten Free)

I always make my own vegetable broth first because I do not like the flavor of carrot or tomato in most of the recipes I use veggie broth in, and second because I like to be able to control the sodium. It is super easy to do this. Yes, I does take extra effort than just pouring it from a container, but like all good things the effort is very worth it. This recipe makes a lot so freeze what you don't use, and the next time you need veggie broth you will be all set!

Tip: Throughout your everyday cooking when you have an unused stalk of broccoli, chunk of onion, fibery end of asparagus, or simply just some vegetables that may be on their way to the trash, toss them in a freezer bag to save them for the fateful day when you need to whip up a stock.

What you'll need: 
Assorted vegetables like:
Broccoli stalks
Carrot (if you're into that sort of thing)
12 cups or water
1 tbsp of peppercorns

In a large pot dump your water, vegetables, and peppercorns. Then bring to a boil. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Strain, and that's it! Allow what you don't use to cool down before placing it in a freezer safe container for saving.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shepard's Pie (Vegan) (Gluten Free)

Couple things you should know about me... First off, I probably use more garlic in my everyday cooking than most, if not all, Italians. Secondly, I will cook just about anything that requires sautéing celery and onion. The smell reminds me of Thanksgiving stuffing, and I could never get enough.

Anyway, Shepard's pie, maybe it's not cold enough just yet for some of you to make this, but at least now you know where to come looking for recipes when it does get cool. 

In the following recipe I am using russet potatoes for the topping. However, I have used sweet potatoes, and the result was just as great. So, you can determine what you're in the mood for!

What you'll need:
4 russet potatoes
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
2 cups of prepared millet, quinoa, or lentils (I will be using millet)
5-6 large mushrooms
2-3 cloves of garlic 
2 cups of spinach 
2 small turnips
2 stalks of celery
1 large onion
1 carrot
1/3-1/2 cup almond milk
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley 
Sea salt and pepper 

To start, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Then, start some salted water to boil in a medium pot for the potatoes.

In a skillet heat the evoo over medium heat. Then stir in the diced onion, turnip, carrot, celery, quartered mushrooms, and minced garlic. When the onions start to turn translucent stir in the thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Then season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Cook until  the juice from the vegetables has reduced.

Diced the potatoes. I leave the skin on mine. Then add to the pot of boiling salted water.

In a large casserole dish dump the cooked veggie mix, millet, spinach, and can of diced tomatoes. Stir this all together until well combined.

When the potatoes are finished cooking, you can test them by making sure a pairing knife can be inserted and removed easily, drain off the water. Add the coconut oil, almond milk, parsley, salt, and pepper. Then, I like to whip my potatoes with a hand mixer to ensure they get super light and fluffy. 

Top the vegetable mix with the whipped potatoes. 

Place in your preheated oven for 35-45 minutes or until the top is golden brown. If you are in a hurry. Bake for 30 minutes then place under the broiler until the golden top is achieved.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014


...by now I am hoping I have at least one person sucked into reading these posts, and with this being my tenth post I decided to take some time to share a little about me. Okay maybe a lot.

My husband and I started a journey to live a healthy life on January 1, 2011. Our goal at that time was to lose weight. Our combined weight was nearly 600lbs. The lives we were living were slowing killing us, and we became very aware that if we planned to have a family, some serious changing needed to take place. 

We didn't start out knowing anything about healthy weight loss other than how to count calories, watch carbs, and eat low fat. As we reached Thanksgiving day 2011, I had reached my weight loss goal, and my husband, Caleb, had lost 120lbs. We felt amazing. We had accomplished what we had set out to do, and it was awesome.

With the holidays upon us we began eating more outside the realm of what we had been for the past 11 months. We were feeling good, and were also shocked to notice that eating one bad meal didn't make us gain all that weight back overnight! However, it wasn't long before we were beginning to eat at home less and less, and filling out our clothes a little more that we had intended.

We didn't exactly go completely back to the dark side, but we had picked up on some of our old bad habits. I was at a loss. I knew gaining the weight back that I'd lost was not something I wanted, but continuing to eat all the low fat, no fat and low carb, no carb had made me too thin. So, naturally I ate more junk, just less often. Problem solved! 

January of 2013 I found out I was pregnant with my son Silas. We were over-joyed. Up to this point both of us had managed to keep our weight somewhat in check with random exercise, and counting calories on occasion. I had gained back 10-12lbs, but now I was pregnant, so unless I wanted to make that 70lbs it was time to get serious. And by serious I mean walk 2 miles a day, so I could have ice cream when I wanted!

For the next 9 months I was sure to eat more vegetables than usual, walk, and take my prenatal vitamin everyday. I gained 35lbs with my pregnancy, and felt pretty good about that.

After things calmed down at home, from the arrival of our precious, I wanted to focus back to my body, and how best to manage what had just happened to it. I was nursing, so I could get away with eating like an Olympic athlete for a little while, but I had to get serious eventually.

One day, in March of 2014, I saw a couple interesting documentaries on netflix. I have always liked to watch the food documentaries: Food, inc, Food Matters, ect. I was aware of the garbage the food industry slings, and had tried to make changes in that area by shopping at the farmers market more often. But these couple changed my live. Literally. 

The first was Forks Over Knives. I couldn't believe some of the things they were saying. I mean these are scientific studies that proved this information. It wasn't just about the mistreatment of animals. It was about cancer and other diseases that had been cured, by simply changing one's diet. Insane. 

The second was Vegucated. This one probably ticked me off more because I was still in shock from the first. But here I am, having just learned that eating animals in large quantaties causes certain cancers, and this program is showing me live baby, male chicks being thrown into what looks like a wood chipper, simply because they didn't produce eggs. It was just too much. 

Let me just clarify, but before I say this, I am not trying to offend anyone who is a vegan primarily because of animal rights. For me personally, I see no wrong in the consuming of animals. I do, however, have a huge problem with the consumption of animals that lived a life of torture. God never intended we stock pile these poor creatures in cages, barns, and grass less inclosures, so that we could eat a half pound of animal flesh for every meal. It's bananas!! Not only is it wrong, but it's killing us. Not like shot to the head with a bullet, more like fattening us up and killing us slow, like the witch from Hansel and Gretel. 

So when Caleb got home from work I showed him the films. Seeing him just as engaged as I had been was all the push I needed. I set out to change everything about that way I looked at food. No more processed, no more dairy, no more meat! 

My father-in-law, who only 5 months before this had suffered a massive heart attack, had been planning his birthday meal for some time. See after his heart attack both he and my mother-in-law took a serious look at how they had been eating. But the birthday was approaching, and it was time to celebrate a little. 

What I am about to admit to you is a tiny bit embarrassing, but whatever... Caleb and I had set a date, doom's day to the junk, if you will. So, like any typical person on "death row" we had to get our last time fixes on all the junk we were no longer going to eat. We bought a package of Oreos, a bag of powdered donuts, 1/2 gallon of chocolate milk, and 1/2 gallon of white whole milk. That was just to end the sweets we were no longer going to eat. I could go on to tell you about how we ate the celebratory Chinese buffet with the in-laws, cheesecakes, meat lovers pizzas... But let's just say we most likely took a couple years off our lives by way of meat, cheese, and sweet laden processed food.

So it was done. April 2nd, 2014, no more crap. The first two weeks were very overwhelming. I literally had like a mourning period. I would think about how I could never go get a pizza from Pizza Hut and a movie for my kids on a Friday night, or how when the ice cream truck went by I would just have to tell them, "we don't eat that toxin garbage". It felt like a part of me had died. Not to mention how eating with our families made us look and feel a bit like freaks. Having to explain without droning on forever. It was tough, but eventually I started to realize that it wasn't Pizza Hut or the ice cream truck that would be making memories with our kids. It would be us, Caleb and I. Cooking a pizza from scratch and getting to pick our own toppings, while a rented DVD was playing through it's previews. And as for how I felt about talking to others about the way we ate now, I just stopped caring that maybe it was confussing or didn't make since to them. It wasn't a choice I made for anyone but myself and my family anyway, so what difference did it make? I feel amazing. My body has returned to a weight I am comfortable with, and I am not dieting! 

I will admit Caleb and I do indulge in the random dairy treat from time to time, so the whole "purging" thing was really overly dramatic, in hindsight. We also eat farm eggs when I can get them, but what we have made sure to never to lose sight of, is the ever conscious motives behind how and why we feed our bodies. In today's world it is easy to lose track and get stuck in a rut of fast food and prepackaged junk, but if you just keep reminding yourself what food is truly meant for it gets easier. Food is fuel for our perfectly created bodies, so that we may be the best us possible. Change is hard, but nothing worth while ever comes easily. God gave us all the food we could ever need, we just have to look past the clouds of Cheetos dust to see it sometimes. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas (Vegan)

I gotta say Mexican food is my go to easy dinner almost always. These babies are so delicious you won't even miss the cheese! Honest! ;)

What you'll need:
2 15oz cans of black beans
1 small carton of crimini mushrooms, sliced 
1 large onion, diced
3 cups of fresh spinach or kale
10 flour shells (I have found this wonderful kind at walmart that are made from only 5 ingredients. They are fresh so they must be cooked first, but trust me this extra step is worth it! You can find them in a yellow package in the Mexican cheese section. The brand is Tortilla Land.)
2-3 tbsp of nutritional yeast
2-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil 
Sea salt and pepper

1 30oz can of tomato purée 
3 tbsp of chili powder
2 tbsp of cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 cup of water
Sea salt and pepper 
Optional: pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top. This gives a nice texture. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

So first, if you bought the fresh tortillas start cooking those. If you have a helper this would be a great task for them to help with. Caleb is usually my tortilla flipper.

Next in a skillet heat your evoo over medium heat. Add diced onion, sliced mushrooms, and minced garlic. Season with sea salt and pepper. Cook this mix down until water is released and cooked off.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan dump your tomato purée, chili powder, cocoa powder, cumin, water, and sea salt and pepper. Whisk this together and bring to a simmer over low heat. 

In a large bowl, empty your canned beans top with the 3 cups of spinach. Add the hot mushroom/onion mix to the bowl and sprinkle on the nutritional yeast. Toss this mix together. The heat from the sautéed veg will cause the spinach to wilt. 

In a large casserole dish cover the bottom with about 3/4 cup of your enchilada sauce. This helps to prevent the tortillas from sticking. Now start placing your tortillas down one at a time, and fill with about 1/2-3/4cup of the bean/spinach mix. Ladle a spoonful of the sauce over the mix. Then wrap it up and repeat. I never really measure this step. I just start throwing in some mix and sauce then wrap the shell around. Most of the time it works out to 10 enchiladas. After all the mix is used you should have just enough sauce left to  cover the top. Sprinkle on the pumpkin seeds at this time, if you'd like. I also sprinkled on some more nutritional yeast. Why not?!

Place your enchiladas in the preheated oven, and bake for 45 minutes. Once removed, allow the dish to cool. The more cooling you allow the better the enchiladas will hold together when served. 

This one certainly had no complaints, and he can be a pretty tough customer. 


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Pumpkin Spice French Toast

Get some tape ready, because this recipe may blow your socks right off!
I have discovered this beautiful new (to me) farm just outside Joplin. The farm's owner loves to have you visit to see his happy animals. Word of warning, they are literally running around everywhere, so drive cautiously. He sells his fresh eggs for $2/dozen! There is meat available if you are interested, and it is also incredibly priced. Get more details and directions at http://www.brooksheritagefarms.com. 
So, with my fresh eggs in tow and the nearing of fall in my heart, I set out to make the most tasty weekend breakfast I could muster. 

This recipe makes 6 pieces.

What you'll need:
6 pieces of whole grain bread (I am using the fresh bread recipe that can be found on my blog)
3 eggs
1/2 cup of almond milk 
1/4 cup of pumpkin purée
3/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp of ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp of ground allspice 
Note: if not using homemade bread you might have to let your slices sit in the mix a little while, because they will not soak up it up quickly like fresh bread would. Also, I used pretty thick slices, so using thinner store bought slices may result in left over mix. Basically, what I am saying is make some fresh bread. You can thank me later.

First in a large bowl, larger than what you think you'll need so you can really beat those eggs, add eggs, almond milk, pumpkin, vanilla, and spices. Then, you guessed it, beat them together! You don't want any chunks, so really get after it. When it's really combined pour the mix in a flat bottomed dish of your choosing. I used a casserole dish. Dunk your bread slices on each side. Allowing them to really soak this stuff up. The more the better. At this time take a second, if you haven't already, to smell this amazingness. Why yes, it does smell like pumpkin pie. Lucky us!

Heat up your skillet and add a little bit of oil to prevent sticking. Then cook the bread on each side until nicely browned.

I have drizzled some bourbon caramel sauce over the top! Recipe for this can be found here: http://minimalistbaker.com/4-ingredient-bourbon-caramel-sauce/
I simply veganised and unrefined her recipe by using coconut sugar and coconut milk. Fry up some hash browns, and as my grandfather-in-law so beautifully puts it, "Slop this hog!".


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Butter Walnut Cookies (Vegan)

Hello. My name is Amber and I am a cookie addict. Seriously.
Can you blame me? Look at those things! Paired with an ice cold glass of almond milk, fo-get-about-et! 
These cookies are so delicious and they contain no dairy, egg, refined sugar, or refined flour. For this recipe I have used Earth Balance butter substitute (which is not a whole food), but we are filing that in my 15%. 

This recipe makes 16 cookies.

What you'll need:
1/2 cup of earth balance
3/4 cup of coconut sugar
1 1/2 cup of stone ground white wheat flour
1 large chia seed egg (1 tbsp of chia seed + 3 tbsp water)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Whip the earth balance and sugar until it is light and fluffy. I use my stand mixer for this recipe, but I am sure a hand mixer would work.

To the whipped mix add the vanilla extract and chia seed egg. Mix until combined.

In a seperate bowl combine the whole white wheat flour, cinnamon, and baking soda.

While mixing, add half of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until all the dry has been absorbed. Then add the other half and repeat. At the very end toss in the chopped walnuts and mix just until combined.

To measure these out evenly I use my fancy spring scoop. It is about 2 tablespoons. Bake in the 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes. If you can! ;)


Brussels Sprouts and Spicy Potato Wedges (Vegan)

If you've ever had a steamed or boiled Brussels sprouts and they damaged your outlook on these green spherical wonders, I am sorry! Please allow this simple recipe to forever redeem their reputation! As for the spicy potato, what's not to love!?

These quick sides pair beautifully with any protein, but are delicious enough to stand right on their own.

What you'll need:
1 pound of Brussels sprouts
4-5 small potatoes of your choice (russets, red, golden... I have used russet)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, seperated
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Ground cheyanne pepper
Chili power
Sea salt and pepper
I don't have measurements on my seasonings because I do not measure those. I just sprinkle until it think it is going to taste good, and I suggest you do the same.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Cut your Brussels sprouts in half or quarter if they are really large. Then place them in a bowl. Add tablespoon of evoo, a hearty sprinkle of garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and dump them on half of a large cookie sheet.

Next, cut your potatoes into wedges. Then, in the same bowl you just used for your sprouts, dump your potato wedges. Add your tablespoon of evoo, chili powder, ground cheyanne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt, and pepper. Toss until the potatoes are coated. Then seperate the potatoes out on the other half of the cookie sheet. Like so...

Pop these babies on the lower rack of your 425 degree oven for 35-45 minutes.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Zucchini Pasta with Mushrooms (Vegan) (Gluten Free)

Can we all just take a moment to bask in the glory that is Italian food? Seriously, what's not to love about pasta, bread, and cheese!? Carbs and fat, you say? Oh right.
Well, the good news is that Italian flavors don't have to come from just pasta, bread, and cheese. In fact, some if my very favorite Italian style dishes contain none of those things. Too good to be true? Nope!

This recipe serves two. Unless you eat like a bird then three. No bird eaters around here, though! ;)

What you'll need:
4 medium zucchini (a couple large ones would work, but I am using what I found at the store)
6-8 crimini (baby portobello) mushrooms 
1 small onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tps oregano
Juice of one lemon
Sea salt and pepper

First, with a vegetable peeler or a mandolin style food slicer, slice your zucchini very thin and length wise into a large bowl. Like so...

Salt the sliced zucchini generously and toss it to coat. Set this aside. The salt will aid in the process of removing the water.

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sliced mushrooms, diced onion, and minced garlic. 

Give your veggies a good stir to coat with the evoo, then sprinkle in the crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, and pepper. Not adding additional salt here because we coated the zucchini with enough. Speaking of zucchini enough water should be released now, so toss it into a strainer over your bowl. 

After the water has been strained off. Check out the mushroom mix. If it looks cooked down suffeciently toss in the zucchini. 

The salt with have softened the zucchini strips as though they were cooked so, this step it only to remove any excess water that may come out from the veggies being heated. Juice your lemon over the veggies, and raise the heat under your pot. You want all of the water/juice to evaporate, leaving behind only the intensified flavor of the veg, lemon, and the olive oil. The olive oil acts as the sauce when all the liquid is gone. Be careful not to over stir this mix. You want zucchini strips not chunks. 

This dish would make a great lunch on its own, or an even better dinner if paired with some delicious Italian style potatoes. Like so...

I got the recipe for the potatoes from my favorite Italian, Create TV chef, Lidia Bastianich. I watched her prepare this dish on one of her shows, but I have been unable to find a link to the recipe. You can however find some of her other delicious Italian recipes at lidiasitaly.com. 


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Veggie Egg Rolls and My Three Favorite Dipping Sauces

When I met my husband he considered Asian food a food group. He could eat it morning, noon, and night. So naturally when we switched to a whole foods plant-based diet I had to figure out a way to cover his craving for that style of food. I will admit, I am not perfect *gasp* so there are a couple things you will see I have let slide under that stone wall of "clean eating". I consider myself an 85 percenter. I eat clean almost every single time, but you gotta have the tiniest bit of fun on occasion. 

Making these egg rolls requires some involved steps, but trust me when I say it is sooo worth it!

This recipe makes a dozen egg rolls and three dipping sauces.

What you'll need:
Egg rolls
Package of egg roll wraps
1/2-3/4 head of cabbage
3 carrots
3 small or 1 large zucchini 
1 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp of miso paste
1 tbsp of sesame oil
1 tbsp of soy sauce
1 tsp of powdered or fresh ginger 
An oil such as canola or coconut that can cook at a high temp with out smoking for spraying on the egg rolls before baking. I have a kitchen spritzer that I can add any sort of oil to, but you can purchase natural oil sprays.
Sea salt and pepper 

3 Sauces
Good quality natural soy sauce 
1 1/2 tbsp whole grain mustard
1/2 tbsp red or green curry paste
1/8 tsp ground cheyanne pepper
1 1/2 tbsp jam/preserves (I use strawberry, but orange or apricot would be amazing)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
Pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 500 degrees, yes all the way up there! 

Prepping our veggies.

I used my grater on the food processor to shred the zucchini and carrot. If you don't have this time saving tool I am sorry! Grate your zucchini and carrot into a medium bowl. Then salt them. The point of this step is to remove the water from those veggies. Stir the salt around in the mix, and set it aside to allow the salt to work it's magic.

Cut your cabbage into 1/4 inch shreds, dice your onion, and mince your garlic. Add evoo, cabbage, onion, garlic, ginger, and sesame oil into a skillet over med heat. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Give it a good stir and cover. You aren't wanting to cook this mix too much just wilt the cabbage. It will finish it's cooking in the oven.

While this is cooking, back to our zucchini and carrot. You should see some liquid pooling. In a mesh strainer press out all the liquid you can. Then add your strained veggies to a dry large bowl. 

Remove the lid from the cabbage, give it a good stir, and turn up your heat to cook off any liquid that may be lurking in the bottom of your skillet. Extra liquid = soggy egg roles. Ain't nobody got time for that, y'all.

Once all the liquid is cooked off, add your cabbage mix to the other veggies. Then add the miso paste and soy sauce. Give it a stir so that everything is all combined.

Prep your cookie sheet by spraying it with the high temp cooking oil of your choice.

Stack your 12 egg roll wraps on a clean work surface. Fill a small bowl with some water (this will be used to dip your fingertips so you can wet the egg roll wrap to seal).

Place about a 1/4 cup of your veggie mix in the center of each egg roll wrap. Like so...

Your egg roll wrap package should show
you how to wrap these, but if it doesn't... Pull your south end up over the mix. Then east and west go folded in simultaneously. To finish dip your fingertips in the water bowl and wet your north remaining tip. Lastly, just roll your 3/4 wrapped veggies north! 

Place your rolls on the cookie sheet and spray the tops with your high temp cooking oil.

Place them in the 500 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes on each side. The insides of these little treasure will be as hot at the surface of the sun, so allow them to cool! You can also cut them in half to speed this process.

Okay now the easy part. Sauces!

First sauce. Soy. Pour your good quality soy sauce in a bowl for dipping. Done

Second sauce. Sweet and sour. Add your jam/preserves, rice vinegar, and pinch of salt to a small bowl and stir together. Done.

Third sauce. Spicy curried mustard. Add your whole grain mustard, curry paste, and cheyanne to a small bowl and stir together. Done!

Enjoy and share these with your friend and family. They will be a hit!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Peach Cobbler (Vegan)

My brother-in-law John requested I make him a peach cobbler. John is an anti-vegetarian, because he says there aren't enough hours in the day for him to eat the amount of vegetarian food he needs to keep himself full. I would concede with this statement. I eat constantly! But I am totally okay with that.
When I gave John his peach cobbler last night I didn't tell him it was organic, vegan, and made with unrefined sugar. I have yet to hear his review of my fruit pastry, but I have every confidence that it was a success. 

What you'll need:
7-8 cups of peaches (the ones I had were huge so it only took 4)
3/4 cup of coconut sugar
1/4 cup of fresh orange or lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp of nutmeg
Pinch of sea salt

2 cups organic, unbleached white flour
1/2 cup of coconut oil
7-8 tbsp ice cold water
1 tbsp coconut sugar
Pinch of sea salt

Crust tips: you get the best results when your ingredients are super cold. I store my flour in the freezer, and you can place your pre-measured coconut oil in the freezer while you prepare your equipment.

For you crust purists, I will be using my food processor, so look away! ;)

Add your flour, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and salt to your processor. Give it a few pulses to combine. Then set your processor to the dough setting (or low) and slowly add your ice cold water. You will be looking for your crust dough to be crumbly, but still able to hold together nicely when pressed. Like so...

This recipe makes two crusts or one really large, thick crust. Decide what you are looking for, and set out the appropriate amout of plastic wrap. I will be making two crusts, and saving one in my freezer. Dump your mix out on the plastic wrap. Quickly and using your wrap press the mix into a disc shape.

Allow the dough to set in the refridgerator for one hour up to overnight. 

For the filling: cut your peaches into 1/2 inch slices and place in a large bowl. Add the coconut sugar, juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Then mix together until the peaches are coated.

Dump your mix into a medium sized, shallow oven safe dish. 

On a lightly floured surface, roll out your chilled crust disc, and place over your peaches. If you are fancy, at this time you can jazz up your crust. I have zero expertise in this area
. I like to think my flavor makes up for my lack of visual creativity! Regardless of your design be sure to vent your crust by slicing into it with a small pairing knife. 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes of until crust is golden. 


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Whole Wheat Bread (Vegan)

I have an aunt-in-law that makes the best homemade bread you have ever had in your life. Incredible to the point that she even grinds her own wheat. While I totally prefer to have what we lovingly refer to as "Carla bread", it is not always available. So, I have somewhat managed to create a little bread magic of my own.
Bread baking doesn't have to be scary. In fact it's quite simple when you get your method down. 
What you'll need:
2 cups of 100% stone ground whole white wheat
1/4 cup of 10 grain or 7 grain cereal, flax seeds could also be used (the purpose of this step is add texture, however, it can be omitted, in that situation you would just use additional 1/4 cup of the white wheat)
1 cup of warm water
2 tbsp of sorghum, maple syrup, honey, agave, or any non artificial sweetener
2 tbsp of olive or coconut oil
1/4 cup of vital wheat gluten
1 tbsp of active dry yeast or one packet
1 healthy pinch of salt

To begin dissolve your sweetener into your warm water. Then stir in the yeast. Allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes. It should be all bubbly like this...

In seperate bowl combine the white wheat flour, cereal/flax, vital wheat gluten, and salt. 

Pour the yeast water into the stand mixer bowl with the dough hook attachment. Then add the oil.

Turn the mixer on to the stir setting. Dump in the whole wheat mixture.

At first your bread will look like this.

But eventually it will come together like this.

Cover your bowl with a damp tea towel and place in a warm draft free place. I usually set my oven to 350 degrees for one minute then turn it off, and place my bowl in there. Allow the dough to rise for 45-60 minutes. It should double in size, like so...

Punch the dough down, and form it into a loaf shape. At this time I usually start preheating my oven to 350 degrees. Also, brush some coconut oil on your loaf pan. I use glass (little "Carla bread" secret). Place your bread in the oiled loaf pan.

Cover with your damp tea towel once more. Place in a warm draft free place. Not your oven this time, remember it should be preheating. Allow the bread to rise for about another 30 minutes. It should look like this...

To be honest, I got a crazy good rise out of this loaf. It doesn't always rise this much, and that's okay! I always bake mine regardless of the rise. Anything over the top of the loaf pan works for me. After your bread has risen place it in your 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until the outside is nicely golden.

Allow bread to cool completly before storing in an air tight bag. If you plan to eat this bread within the week it will be fine. If not I suggest freezing half the loaf, because due to its lack of preservatives it will mold quickly.