Polarizing little green nuggets

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BRUSSELS!

Yeah, I know. This is exactly what you want to see on a Sunday afternoon. But too bad.

These might be one of the most polarizing foods ever. Love them? Hate them? You probably fall into one of these camps—I doubt there are many who are ambivalent towards the little green nuggets…

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I love them. Obviously. It’s my blog… why would I post about something I hated? Weird. Anyway.. I digress. I *used* to hate brussel sprouts… probably because the first time I ate them I believe they were boiled, and I STILL think that’s a nasty way of preparing them. Ewww. Soggy brussels. Ain’t nobody go time for that.

So I don’t do that. I roast them! And then toss them in things that make them even more delicious. I’m not really sure when I discovered I liked them though, which is odd. I have a wildly specific food memory (like, maybe too specific. Surely that brain space could be used for something slightly more productive than remembering exactly what I ate at any given time/place/vacation/noteworthy event?! Whatever. At least the grey matter is occupied and amusing itself, right?). So anyway. My Saturday morning was spent roasting brussels and doing yoga (what a shocking combination if you know me, NOT), and then this morning after doing (you’ll never guess) MORE YOGA (!!) I ate more of them. And it’s raining!! Win, win, win.

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And also this morning I made some grain free banana bread, which is incidentally delicious but also half of it stuck to the pan so oops I had to eat a bunch of it because now it’s crumbs and hello, crumbs are designed to be eaten. Maybe I’ll make a habit of not fully greasing my pans from now on just to create crumbs, muahhaa. No not really. But kind of amusing to contemplate…

Anyway. Happy Sunday! Here are some brussels to distract you from whatever you need to be distracted from.

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Stoneground Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This might seem like kind of a weird combo to start off with, but stick with me, I promise they’re delicious. I used two bags of Trader Joe’s organic brussels, each about 14 oz I think. Recipe serves 3, with a bit left over. Gluten free, vegan.

  • 2 bags of brussel sprouts, halved/quartered and with yuck ends trimmed
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp grade B organic maple syrup
  • 2 tsp stoneground mustard

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Preheat oven to 400.
Prep brussel sprouts by trimming off the yuck end, and halving or quartering them depending on how big they are. Some of the outer leaves can be a little tough and usually come off as you trim them, which is fine. Toss sprouts with avocado oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl until all are evenly coated. Distribute the sprouts onto a rimmed cookie sheet, flipping them so that they are cut-side down. Roast for 15 minutes, then take the tray out and flip them over to the other side. They should be nicely browned and starting to caramelize! Roast them for another 13-15 minutes, then take them out to cool slightly.

While the sprouts are roasting, whisk together olive oil, maple, and mustard in a smallish bowl. Transfer the sprouts to a larger bowl, and drizzle the dressing over all of them, tossing to combine and evenly coat them. Serve hot! Yum yum yum.

These are good. Promise. Even if you hate brussel sprouts, you should at least give them a try… they’re good for you! And delicious (I know I know, to each his or her own..)

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My cats are here to show me the way to inner bliss

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Let’s talk about cats.

Mark Twain once said, “Of all God’s creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the lash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat” (Notebook, 1894)… and how true this is. Cats are such enlightened little furry beings—we discussed this in my last post because Nosh definitely stares at me with his third eye. Definitely. What cat likes banana bread, lentil-apple sandwiches, and butternut squash pancakes unless he’s a guru?! Right. See?

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My cats share tidbits of enlightened wisdom with me every day. For instance… Obviously, inner peace can be achieved easily by a five hour nap on the heater vent, followed by a massive stretch and a round of kibble hockey… and then the search for a warm human to nap on for the next hour. And… repeat. Ohmmm. Inner peace.

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They also are excellent reminders to live in the moment. Mine always do. Picture this: I am cooking. In the kitchen. There are two pairs of eyes staring at me incessantly. Those eyes are very clearly saying: “In this moment, I want snacks. My kibble is in the laundry room. Why aren’t you walking over there? Snacks are for this moment. And then for the moment a moment from now. And then you will let me outside, and I will eat some bugs in a very enlightened manner to illustrate the interconnectedness of the universe”. You see how wise they are? It’s mind boggling.

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In the next life I’m coming back as a cat. A real cat, not just as a really bendy human with cat friends. Because that way I can achieve inner peace by napping for the majority of the day, eating a few bugs, and then finding a human to sleep on. That sounds like a pretty fabulous proposition, doesn’t it?!

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My cats do yoga and have kitty chakras. It’s okay, you’re allowed to be jealous.

In the short term, feel free to make this pizza and achieve a small measure of enlightened gastronomical wisdom. In a pinch (and in your lack of wise cat friends), it’ll do.

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Vegan Pizza on a Pumpkin Crust

This pizza surprised me! It came together quite fast, with things I had lurking around in the pantry. It was perfect for lunch and leftovers. The crust is gluten free (and can be nut free), made with pumpkin puree. The sauce is veggietastic and delicious—and vibrantly green! Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free, dairy free (could be nut free with all cornmeal and no almond flour). Both crust and sauce loosely adapted from Wholehearted Eats, here!

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For the crust:

  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed+4 tbsp water
  • 3 c pumpkin puree (2 cans worth)
  • 1/2 c almond flour
  • 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 3/4 c garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/8 c nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • a few good grinds of black pepper
  • 1.25 tsp dried oregano

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 c raw cashews, soaked for at least 10 minutes and drained
  • 2 c raw spinach, packed
  • 1.5 c frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • scant 1/4 tsp salt

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Preheat oven to 425, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In  a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp ground flaxseed and 4 tbsp water. Set aside for the time being. In a large bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, almond flour, cornmeal, garbanzo bean flour, nutritional yeast, 1 tbsp flaxseed, sea salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir in soaked flax. Spread the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, making a roughly oblong-type shape (or not, whatever floats your boat) with edges a bit thicker than the middle. Bake for just about 30 minutes, until the center is set and the edges are just beginning to brown (you should be able to peel it off the parchment paper).

While the crust is baking, make the sauce! In a food processor, whirl together soaked cashews , spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, olive oil, basil, and salt. I highly suggest tasting and adjusting as you go, it’s much more fun that way. Puree until the sauce is chunk-free and smooth.

When the crust is done, spread sauce around evenly, and top with veggies of choice. I used sautéed arugula, bell peppers, and zucchini, but use whatever you have on hand. Bake for another 5 minutes, then let cool for a minute or two before slicing and serving. I found that a sprinkle of salted, roasted cashews added just the right crunch and made a nice garnish.

Leftovers store well and taste equally delicious the next day! I stored mine in a glass continuer in the fridge.

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The perks of being a bulk squirrel

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Hiya!

It’s Sunday. I just came from a fab yoga class and now my joints feel all nice and stretchy and I also feel like there is a hole in my stomach. Mid-morning yoga always makes me SO FREAKING HUNGRY! Oi. But I’m currently placating it with a large bowl of sweet potato-egg-kale-avocado-salsa-ketchup (don’t judge) goodness sooo… things are headed in the right direction.

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And last night I made this!

YAY! for amaranth and lentils.

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If I had an alter ego it would probably be a legume….

This is an easy one pot dish that is ready in under an hour, so it makes for delicious weeknight (or busy night) meals. Additionally, if you’re like me, it’s composed mostly of bulk staples so if you’re a bulk squirrel like me, you likely already have everything. It’s also really adaptable. Don’t have spinach? Use some other leafy green thing. Hate peas? No probs, leave them out or put something else in instead.

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Besides being fast and easy, legumes + amaranth are super protein! Sort of like Super Legume Girl, or whatever my alter ego would be. Pair some super-protein with some free-radical bashing antioxidants from the veggies and all kinds of good minerals and amino acids from the amaranth, and you’ve got one nutritional powerhouse disguised as a delicious dinner.

Serve it for your next weeknight dinner and… BOOM SHAKA LAKA! Tell those free radicals they are NOT invited to your parties!

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Lentil and Amaranth Stew

Recipe adapted from Food Recipes HQ, here! I got a yield of dinner for three, plus leftovers for two.

  • 1 c amaranth
  • 1/2 c green lentils
  • 3 massive carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 garlic clove (1 clove if you like more garlic)
  • 1 carton of veggie broth (1 quart, about 4 cups), divided
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 c raw spinach
  • 2 c green peas, defrosted if frozen
  • 1/4 c nutritional yeast
  • small splash of Bragg’s liquid aminos, coconut aminos, or soy sauce (low sodium)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped cashews, pepitas, and sliced avocado for serving

Heat a large pot over medium high heat (I used a large soup pot for this so I had lots of room for the raw spinach to wilt down). Add amaranth and toast for about 4 minutes, or until you can smell it toasting (it will have a slightly nutty smell to it). Add in lentils, carrots, two cups of broth, garlic, and olive oil. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, adding more broth as needed (the amaranth will start to thicken and absorb the liquid as it cooks). Once you hit the 35-40 minute mark, stir in bell pepper, spinach, peas, nutritional yeast, bragg’s, salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes more, until the spinach is completely wilted and the stew is heated through. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve hot! The amaranth will thicken considerably as it cools—I like it thick, but feel free to thin it out with more broth when reheating for leftovers. Top with cashews and avo!

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One awkwardly dead banana and what to do with it

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Banana bread bites.

Somewhere between a cookie, banana bread, and… a scone? Muffin? A skookie? Or a brone? Or a mookie?

Clearly my brain has gone on holiday, can you tell?

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Either way, these are delicious! Vegan, refined sugar free (and low sugar), whole grain, high in fiber, and full of potassium and antioxidants. I can’t even really call it a cookie because it’s so healthy… but then you can have a cookie for a snack and feel good about it, so errrybody wins. And I win, because I’ve been buying an excess of bananas so that I can let some go all mushy and disgusting. This is all on account of Vacuum Vati, you see. I thought I ate a lot of bananas?! Apparently it’s genetic. Sheeeesh. If I didn’t buy extras and explicitly forbid him from eating them, there would never be any banana bread/bites/cake/cookies around here. And that would just be sad. So obviously I just circumvent this by buying an extra bunch and doodling on their skins to designate them off limits. MY DEAD BANANAS! MINE!

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I am, of course, very nice. How, you say? Welll… I share the PRODUCT of the hoarded bananas! I may be territorial regarding my dead bananas, but there are always several lucky recipients of the buuhhnahhhnuhhh creation. I think these went over well…. there are currently two left. *Pause for effect*… I made them yesterday. Obviously time to make something else, wouldn’t you think?

Except now I have one awkwardly dead banana and I’m not sure what to do with it. It needs friends. Does anyone care to donate their dead bananas? Anyone? Anyone? …Bueller?

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Vegan Banana Bread Cookie Pucks

Recipe adapted ever so slightly from Minimalist Baker (fabby blog!), here! The recipe makes about 18 little puck thingies… about 2-3″ across. Freaking delicious. Good for you. There is absolutely nooo reason why you shouldn’t trot off to your kitchen and make these… (unless, that is, you haven’t properly hoarded and defended your dead bananas).

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  • 2 ripe (read: dead) bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond extract
  • 2 tbsp smooth almond butter (I used Maranatha unsalted)
  • 1.5 tbsp grade B organic maple syrup
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c dark chocolate chips

In a bowl, mash the two dead bananas so they can become delicious. Toss in baking powder, soda, salt, flaxseed, extracts, almond butter, maple, and olive oil, and stir to combine. Add in flour, oats, and chocolate chips, and once more stir to combine everything. The dough should be thick and a bit sticky. Cover the bowl with whatever’s handy, and refrigerate while the oven is preheating.

Preheat the oven to 375, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Once the oven is done, grab your chilling dough, and drop heaping tablespoons onto the sheet, with a bit of room between (though I was able to get all 18 on one sheet). Slightly flatten the tops. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the tops are set. Don’t let them brown, as you want them hydrated and soft! Let cool on a rack for a bit, then store in a tupperware for about five seconds before they all get eaten.

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Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart!

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Happy December! I love this month. It’s so… festive! And crowded. Sheeesh. Working retail has given me a lovely perspective on people’s shopping habits. Holiday shopping in this country is truly absurd. Where do all these people come from? And where do they hide during the off season??

Alrighty. So I mentioned in my last post that I’m off eggs, and gluten free (due to a variety of things, mostly circulation related. It’s a long story, you can ask me if you’re curious). This means that I’m basically vegan in addition to gluten free. Except I can have dairy and meat. Weird, I know, but just roll with it.

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Um. Yeahhhh. About that. I’m dealing, but it’s requiring a bit of concentration on my part, so that I don’t accidentally consume something I’m not supposed to. At least I was already used to vegan baking, so that switch isn’t too much effort. It’s the gluten free biz that’s killing me—I freaking LOVE BREAD. Arrggg. Ah well, for now it’s only two weeks (and hopefully NOT longer). We’ll see.

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Anyway, at least it’s pushing me to discover new alternatives and diversify my bloglet! I’m trying to keep my costs to a minimum, so that means finding affordable gluten-free flour substitutes. Some I’m familiar with, some not… I promise to only share the tasty ones on here. The flatbread I’m sharing today definitely qualifies as tasty (and cost effective, it only has 4 ingredients!), and ridiculously versatile. It’s made with chickpea flour, which I’ve never used before but is high in protein and fiber (obvi, as it’s made from beeeeeeans!). It’s actually one of the most nutrient-dense flours around: it’s high in folate, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, thiamin, iron, copper, and manganese. Whew! Besides all that, this flatbread has good fats from olive oil. Oh. AND it’s tasty. What more could you want? Yum yum yum. Called Torta di Ceci, this recipe is Italian in origin. I just love it, as you can eat it with pretty much anything (especially cheese, mmmm)—gluten free pizza crust? I think yes.

La la la…. beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, the more you eat the more you… Well. I’m sure you can fill in the rest of that cute little ditty.

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Torta di Ceci (Italian Chickpea Cake)

Recipe gratefully borrowed from this awesome blog: In Pursuit of More. Makes one sheet, or about 20 playing-card size servings. Plan for a little bit of time, as it needs to sit for 3 hours (at least) before baking. I made mine mid day, so that I could bake it in time for dinner.

  • 2.5 c chickpea flour (also called gram flour, or garbanzo flour)
  • 3.5 c water
  • scant tsp of salt
  • pepper to taste (I like a lot)
  • 1/4 c olive oil (extra virgin cold press, ideally the best quality you can)

Measure out the chickpea flour into a largeish bowl. Slowly pour in the water, whisking continuously to prevent lumps. Once you’ve poured all the water in, add salt and pepper, and give it a few minutes of whisking to make sure it’s smooth. Cover and let sit on the counter for at least three hours.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Skim off any foam from the surface of the batter, with a slotted spoon. Pour the olive oil into a large rimmed baking sheet (mine was about 18″ by 13″ ), tilting the pan so that the oil covers the bottom. When the oven is finished preheating, pour the batter into the prepared pan, in a layer about 1/4″ thick. Carefully transfer to the oven (amazingly I did this without causing a massive disaster), and bake for 30 minutes, until golden. When done, let cool in the pan for a few minutes before serving.

This bread is best hot or warm, and reheats fabulously. I’ve been storing mine in a glass tupperware in the fridge, which seems to work fine. I like mine reheated and sprinkled with cheese. Mmmm.

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Tarting up February!

mmmm, CRUST!

I like to think I know myself pretty well, in terms of food-type oddities and  proclivities. As such, I know that February irritates me. It’s such a bleh month in the middle of everything, and there is a distinct lack of interesting produce. I’ve already gone nuts over squash, waaaay back in the fall… I love sweet potatoes but I eat them all the time anyway…and there is a depressing amount of fruit available. As in, local and seasonal fruit, if you please (Besides, strawberries in winter just look sad. All pale and anemic. I would much rather eat them in the summer, thankyouverymuch).

BUT.

I discovered a solution to this problem.

Waaay back in September, over Labor Day weekend, I procured some fresh peaches (thanks, Dave Lakey!). I fought the urge to eat them immediately, and instead sliced them up and threw them into the freezer. All neat and nicely labeled, I was determined that they would remain in there, until the dead of winter (aka February), when nothing grows and I was itching for some summer fruit. Genius, clearly.

Over the weekend, when I spent a bit more time thinking about/researching/drooling over pie and tart recipes than actually thesising, I realized the time for peaches had arrived! And oooooh was that a good decision…

THIS. Is what happened.

peeeeachesss!

Fresh peaches in February! Can you ask for anything better? It’s like summer in a bite. And a healthy bite, no less! The crust has healthy fats from olive and canola oil, and the custard is made with yogurt instead of cream. And fruit is the most important part! It’s totally justifiable to have this for breakfast.

okay, so the pictures of this weren't super fantastic... but the crust was beautiful! clearly my favorite part.

Peach Custard Tart

Crust is slightly adapted from the Garden of Eden blog, and the custard is adapted from Eating Well, here. Makes one 11” tart.

For the crust (most low maintenance tart crust EVER):

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tbsp milk of some kind (I used plain soymilk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar (no need to sift). In another small bowl, whisk together olive and canola oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add liquid into dry, and gently stir until just combined (be careful not to overstir). Gather this up and plunk it down into your tart pan (in the absence of a tart pan, a pie dish is fine)… then flatten the dough on the bottom and up the sides by pressing gently with the flats of your fingers (this is the fun part!). Try to get it to an even thickness all around and up the sides, about 1/8″.

messy, but delicious.

For the filling!

  • 4-5 peaches, sliced (mine were frozen. I ran them under cool water until I could separate them into slices, but didn’t defrost the completely to prevent peach mush)
  • 3/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 c lowfat plain yogurt*
  • 3/4 c milky beverage (soymilk again for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp organic cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

*The original recipe called for greek yogurt… but Kira and I, being the frugal/practical types that we are, decided to try it with regular yogurt, since that was what we had on hand. Excellent decision, as it turned out deeelicious. Either type is fine!

This is ridiculously easy: dump all the above ingredients in a bowl (except peaches), and whisk until smooth. See? Easy.

I told you the crust was pretty!

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the peaches around the bottom of the crust (they don’t have to look pretty). Pour the custard over the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the edges with foil to prevent excess browning (I did a rather ineffectual job, but I like the rather caramelized edges, so… not a big deal!). Reduce oven temperature to 350, and pop it back into the oven for another 40 minutes to an hour. Mine was done at about an hour and 10 minutes—I checked it at 40, and then put it back in for 15 minute intervals. You want a knife to come out clean when inserted into the center. Let cool before eating, about an hour and a half, to make sure the custard has time to set.

This is EXCELLENT cold. In fact, I think it might be better cold the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other. It is also excellent with a blob of vanilla ice cream, of course.

uh oh... evidence!