Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Comfort Food

Some days you just need something creamy and comforting. Today all I wanted was a brie tartine and a big slab of cheesecake from the Blue Dahlia Bistro. It's one of my favorite restaurants, and that was one of my favorite meals before I went plant based.

Instead, I made this shake from Radiant Health, Inner Wealth. Take two frozen bananas (they must be frozen for best results), 1-2 cups of non-dairy milk (the more milk you add, the more liquidy it will be), and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Blend. Pour into a pretty glass and decorate with a pretty strawberry. Drink.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Veggie Meatloaf Nirvana

Lentil Loaf, Potato with Mushroom Gravy, Broccoli Raab
Wow. I am so excited about this recipe. First, I love meatloaf. It's the ultimate comfort food. Throw in some mashed potatoes and gravy, some fresh bread, and hot damn.

The sad thing is, I've never been able to find a good veggie meatloaf recipe. Most of them are made with TVP (textured vegetable protein), which is terrible for you, and the ones that are bean-based tend to dry out easily.

After eating at a vegan restaurant this last Friday and tasting yet another piece of disappointing, dried out veggie loaf,  I decided I had to give this recipe a try.

A rainbow of yumminess
The recipe is from Alex Jamieson's book The Great American Detox Diet, which is a new one on my rotation of favorite vegan cookbooks. You may know Alex from the film Supersize Me (she was the horrified vegan girlfriend of Morgan Spurlock). I've loved everything of hers that I've tried, and she is just an awesome person, to boot!

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that she uses lentils, which I think naturally have a meaty texture. Lentils are also very high in protein, which is great since I'm in the middle of training for a 4-mile swim and want something that makes for a good recovery meal.

I also love that this recipe is full of vegetables—the whole rainbow—and has no oil. It does use olives and walnuts, which add a little fat, great flavor, and texture.

All prepped and ready for baking!
It calls for instant oats, but I just threw regular oats in my blender to cut them up a bit. Worked like a charm.

All of the chopping aside, this was super easy to throw together, although you need to be mindful of preparations and cook time, if you want to eat at a decent hour. I had made the lentils ahead of time and happened to have some cooked brown rice on hand, so everything came together relatively quickly. The cooking time is an hour (40 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered), and it needs to sit for another 10 or 15 minutes out of the oven so it can set.

I promise you will not be disappointed. It is so moist and delicious, and it's got such a wonderful flavor. The walnuts add an unexpected crunch. I served it with a boiled potato, broccoli raab, and the Happy Herbivore's Everyday Mushroom Gravy.

The loaf tasted even better the day after, with the flavors all having a chance to meld together. Tasted good cold, too.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Evening Called for Biscuits

Today is National Buttermilk Biscuit Day. I'm not sure why we need an official day to celebrate eating buttermilk biscuits, but who am I to argue?

By the power of suggestion, this evening I wanted biscuits. Thankfully the person who suggested biscuits was The Happy Herbivore, who has a couple of great low-fat vegan cookbooks that are also part of my kitchen stand-bys.

One way of giving a buttermilk flavor to vegan cooking is to use lemon juice, although I find that it can be hit or miss. I flipped through Everyday Happy Herbivore and stumbled upon this recipe for Lemon Jam Biscuits. A simple drop biscuit recipe, but with the addition of juice from an entire lemon, as well as the zest.

Not exactly a buttermilk biscuit, but it sounded intriguing, particularly her suggestion of topping it with raspberry jam. This was super simple to throw together. I think total prep time was under 10 minutes.

1 c whole wheat-pastry flour (this is key—using regular whole wheat will make it reallllly heavvvvy)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper (easy way to be non-stick and oil free!)
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt
4. Add applesauce and stir until chunks of dough form
5. Add zest and juice of an entire lemon (you should really use organic, since you're using the skin)
6. Add water 1 T at a time just until the dough is wet but not runny.

Drop 5 spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes.

You seriously need to eat these with the raspberry jam. So freaking delicious.

I find that these biscuits taste best when they're hot out of the oven rather than left over, so it's best if you find a person or two to eat them with.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chili Lime Noodles With All of the Things

This is one of my favorite recipes. It's delicious by itself, but it also makes a great base for adding veggies and other sautéeables (is that a word?).

My only tweak to the recipe itself is to use only 1/2 teaspoon of oil—just to keep the noodles from sticking. I have made this recipe completely oil free before and although it tasted fine when it was freshly made, the leftover noodles were clumped together in a cold, hard rock the next day. 

Note to self: I might try making them oil free again and reheat them the next day in a skillet with a little veggie broth to see if that helps break them up...

What I also love about these noodles is how flavorful they are. The ginger and garlic just taste so fresh, and the sriracha gives it just enough kick to make your sinuses clear.

So. Yesterday I went for an hour-long swim and came home ravenous. Fortunately, I had already whipped up a batch of these noodles the day before, so all I needed to do was sautée up some yummies to go with them. First I took some tofu*, cut it into small slices, and marinated it for about 10 minutes in 1 T low-sodium tamari and 1 T garlic granules. I browned the tofu in a skillet, and then I added my veggies. In my CSA box this week were a bag of snow peas, some fresh grape tomatoes, and a head of cabbage, so I thought those would go together nicely.

Ring Around the Snow Peas

Halfway through I added my cold, already cooked noodles, and just stirred the whole thing until it was warm.

Can I get a 'nom?
I topped with some crushed unsalted peanuts, and voilà! The perfect recovery meal.

*If you're concerned about pesticides and GMOs, you should really use organic tofu. I like Wildwood Sprouted Tofu because it's more nutritious than the plain old kind.

Also, tofu really needs to be marinated in order to taste good. Most people who say they hate tofu hate it because someone dumped it out of a package onto a plate. My favorite (and the easiest) marinade is 1 T tamari with 1 T garlic granules, but you can use any sort of marinade that you would use for meat and it should absorb the flavor.