January 28, 2011

Warm Tuscan Quinoa Salad

This was so yummy you guys! A lot of times, when I'm creating a dish it comes down to what I have in my cupboards and refrigerator. I was at this great Italian Pizzeria and Market in St. Paul and found these delicious looking roasted red peppers, I had asparagus from another meal (which will be posted soon!), and I had quinoa from my VH Basics post. I thought those might be good together! And so this dish was born! I had never actually had roasted red peppers before. I had them blended in with hummus, but not on their own. Have I been missing out! They're so delicious! They have the sweetness still, but a great smokey flavor from the char from being roasted. Definitely worth trying you guys!

  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus (I like to use the thinner asparagus. It's less woody)
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
  • 2 cups prepared quinoa
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 tbsp of oil (I use safflower oil to saute)
  • 1/2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Saute the asparagus over medium-high heat until tender. Add the minced garlic and saute for a couple of minutes. Don't overcook the garlic! Add the spices, salt and pepper, and roasted red peppers. Saute long enough to heat the red peppers through. Once all the ingredients are cooked and warmed through, add the quinoa. Mix together and serve!

January 27, 2011

VH BASICS: Cooking Quinoa

I Love Love Love Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa)! It's such a great base to make so many great dishes. Not only that, but it's such a great food for Vegans to be eating. Most people think quinoa is a grain (which makes sense, since it's cooked like one) but it's actually a seed. It originated in the Andean mountain area in South America where it was easy to grow in the harsh altitude. The Inca's actually held the quinoa crop as sacred! Its protein content is very high. Unlike wheat or rice and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. So if anybody ever asks you that you aren't getting complete protein, tell them they're wrong! Especially if you're eating quinoa!

When cooked, quinoa has a fluffy texture and has a slight nutty flavor similar to rice or couscous so it's a great substitution for those in any recipe. Before cooking, make sure you've purchased pre-washed quinoa. Quinoa has a coating on the outside that taste very bitter if it's not washed.

The basic cooking method is just like rice. 2 cups of water for every cup of quinoa. I sometimes like to toast mine in the saucepan before putting in the water to enhance it's nutty flavor, but usually I just cook it in my rice cooker. If you're cooking on the stove top though, combine the 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the temperature and simmer for 15-18 minutes. You'll know when it's done cooking when the curly germ has separated from the seeds.

January 24, 2011

High Protein Blueberry Muffins

Alright people. I've started P90x again and I'm not excited about it. I did it before, but only for 45 days instead of the whole 90 because I got the flu. I guess I just never got back on track. It's a love hate relationship I guess with P90x. Shall we start with the hate? I think so. First of all, it friggin sucks. It's so hard. It takes at least an hour out of your day and the diet plan they give you is meat, dairy and egg ridden so I always have to plan my meals a week ahead of time so I don't stray away from the high protein diet and have to think about what I'm going to eat that night. Ok, the reason I keep going back to it. Simply, it works. (They should be giving me some money for hawking their product). But it really does work for the short amount of time. For the 45 days I did, I could really see results so I can't imagine how it would be after 90 days (or 180 days if I do it twice).

Anyway, so that brings me to this recipe. It's a little bit hard to get adequate amounts protein when you're doing such a hard and strenuous work out program. So I rely on protein shakes, protein bars (these are the best!) and high protein, easy snacks. So this is my first (purposefully) high-protein baked good you'll be getting. It's not meant to be pretty, it's meant to do it's job. Give me protein! I use Nutribiotic Rice Protein in this recipe, but you could really use whatever protein powder you normally would use.

So if I did the math right - making these muffins using Nutribiotic Rice Protein Powder - there should be about 18.5 grams of protein per muffin. That's pretty good, right?!

*Makes about 9 Muffins*

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup flax seed meal
  • 3/4 cup protein powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2/3 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 3 egg replacer servings
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2/3 cup water

Mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle. That just means clearing a hole in the middle of the bowl so there's a place to put the wet ingredients when mixing.

In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients. When those are all well combined, pour them into the well of the dry ingredients and stir together. Do not over-mix. Blend just until the ingredients are well combined then stir in the frozen blueberries.

Scoop the batter into a greased muffin pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

January 23, 2011

VH BASICS: Cooking Brown Rice

So I decided to do this new thing called Vegan Heartland BASICS where I post how to cook basic foods that are important for a vegan to know how to cook. So my first installment is brown rice. I eat brown rice a couple of days a week. It's much better for you than white rice. White rice is made by removing the husk of the rice, but it also removes a lot of the nutrients. The key nutrients lost are vitamin B1, vitamin B3, magnesium, and Iron. So I'm definitely a bigger fan of the brown rice.

The only difference I've found between cooking white rice and brown rice is that brown rice needs a little more water to cooking.

I usually use 2 1/2 cups of water for every 1 cup of brown rice. You could also add margarine or salt to give it more flavor while cooking.

So start by bringing a pot of water to boil. Remember to use the 2 1/2 cup to 1 cup ratio. Add the rice and optional margarine and salt to the boiling water. Return the pot of water to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for about 45-50 minutes. Fluff with a fork when it's done cooking.

January 22, 2011

Strawberry Walnut Crumble

I needed a summer treat fix! This is definitely best enjoyed during a hot summer day, but I needed an escape from this -25 degree weather (with windchill) that we're having here in Minnesota. So I've made one of my favorite desserts that my grandma used to make me when I was younger. It's actually not even that bad for you (as far as desserts go). I've included a recipe for coconut whipped cream because my grandma's recipe called for Cool Whip. I used a little bit of refined sugar in this (there's a 1/2 cup, my grandma's original recipe had 1 1/4 cups!).

Crust Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup margarine or coconut oil
  • 1/8 cup agave
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix by hand or by food processor the margarine/coconut oil, agave, and flour. Mix together as if you were making a pie crust. This should be a little bit more crumbly than an average pie crust. Once combined, stir in 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Pour the crust ingredients into a baking dish and brown for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Coconut Whipped Cream Ingredients:
  • 2 cans of 14oz FULL FAT Coconut Milk
  • 1/4-1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Find the directions for making coconut whipped cream here!

Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 10oz bags of Frozen Strawberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Blend the ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Chunks of strawberries are ok. I usually warm them up a little bit by letting them thaw, or on top of the stove or in the microwave. Once these ingredients are blended - fold in the coconut whipped cream.

Press half of the crumb mixture in a 9x13 pan and then pour the strawberry mixture on top of that. Place the other half of the crumb mixture on top of the strawberries. Freeze covered. Keep frozen until ready to use. I like to let it thaw for about 30 minutes to an hour before serving so it isn't completely frozen.

January 18, 2011

Vegan Parmesan Garlic Breadsticks

Sorry about the not so good picture, I didn't have time to make it look very pretty because I was so busy eating these! Just kidding, I think I made them a little too long, so they broke in the middle, but they were still delicious! I dunked them in some store-bought tomato sauce and that just made them that much more delicious! I made the dough in my bread maker, but again if you don't have a bread maker you can mix it by hand and allow the dough to rise for a couple of hours. But once you cut the dough into sticks, you're going to need to let it rise again. 

  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tbsp powdered soy milk
  • 1 tsp yeast

Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order given. When the dough cycle has finished, roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick. With a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 1"x4" strips. I did longer than this (as you can probably tell) so I recommend doing them this length.

Place them in a greased 8x8 baking pan and allow to rise until doubled in size. Usually 2 hours. While you're waiting for the breadsticks to rise, we can mix the topping!

Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp vegan parmesan
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano

Stir together the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Once the breadsticks have doubled in size, brush them heavily with olive oil and sprinkle with the topping. Bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes. You may need to cut them again after baking. Serve with marinara sauce for dipping!

January 13, 2011

Banana Chocolate Chip Waffles

My grandma got me a Belgian waffle maker for Christmas, so I've been wanting to create some sort of waffle recipe. So this is what I came up with! Bananas and chocolate go so well together. Not to mention the cinnamon and maple syrup! So good, I couldn't stop eating it. I should probably cut back on my sugar intake. I'll let you know what that happens....

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup corn starch (I like using corn starch when I make Belgian waffles because it makes them more crunchy)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp EnerG Egg Replace + 4 tbsp warm water
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup melted margarine
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 large banana, chopped

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl beat the egg replacer and water until frothy. Add the maple syrup, milk, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, mix together the dry and wet ingredients. Do not over mix though! Just mix it enough so that the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the melted margarine, chocolate chips, and banana. Pour onto a hot, greased waffle iron and bake for about 2 minutes!

January 12, 2011

Hearty Minestrone Soup

I guess Minestrone means "the big soup" in Italian. That sort of makes sense. You can basically throw whatever you want in this soup and still call it Minestrone. I just have your sort of basic ingredients though. I didn't go all wild and crazy on you. This soup is from one of my favorite cookbooks . It's so hearty and sweet, but my favorite part I think is dunking some crusty bread in here. Maybe try dunking slices of my Whole Wheat French Baguette in here?! I used canned tomatoes in this recipe, but you could always try using fresh too! I always use whatever I have on hand!

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup uncooked pasta
  • 3/4 cup frozen veggie mix
  • 1 cup canned chopped tomato mix
  • 3/4 cup cooked kidney beans
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Place all of the ingredients in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer until the pasta is cooked and the veggies are heated through. It takes about 20 minutes.

January 11, 2011

Oven Roasted Maple GORP

So the legend is that GORP stands for "Good Ol' Raisins and Peanuts" or maybe "Granola Oats Raisins and Peanuts" or "Gobs of Raw Protein". Nobody really knows for sure where the word GORP started. All I know, is that it's delicious. Not only is it delicious, but it makes a great snack for Vegans! High in protein and fiber, plus loaded with antioxidants.

This is my recipe with my favorite nuts and seeds, but this recipe is so easily adaptable to your favorites. You can experiment with different things to add in. I know a lot of people add chocolate chips or chocolate candies, but I think that's unnecessary. The maple syrup makes it sweet enough.

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cups almonds
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place the maple syrup on the stove in a small saucepan with the vanilla and cinnamon. Cook over medium low heat, just to combine the flavors.

Combine the oats, almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed meal, and raisins in a large bowl. Toss with the syrup.

Spread on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss to cool the nuts and seeds. Keep in a cool, dry place. It lasts for weeks!

January 10, 2011

Grandma's Chocolate Mayo Cake

I know what you're thinking. Mayonnaise in cake? That's disgusting! But hear me out. I recently sat down with my mom to go through all of my family's recipes and honestly, this was the one I was most excited to make. I have so many memories of my grandma making this cake when I was little and I haven't been able to eat it for years (since mayo has eggs in it) and it's been torture. This is seriously, the best chocolate cake I have ever eaten. And I'm not lying here people!

When I was little I used to have my Grandma make some for me to bring to my friends, just to prove to them the deliciousness that is the cake. The mayo gives the cake so much richness and make it so moist, you'll never need another chocolate cake recipe again! So here you go. My family's chocolate mayonnaise cake recipe:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar (so much for not eating too much refined sugar)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vegan mayo
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

First mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and cocoa in a large bowl. Then in a separate bowl, mix together the water, mayo, applesauce, vanilla, and apple cider vinegar. Once the wet in ingredients are mixed together well, add them to the dry ingredients and blend with a hand mixer for about 2 minutes, scraping the sides as you go.

Once the dry and wet ingredients have been well mixed, pour into a greased 9x13 cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 25-30 minutes. When a toothpick poked in the center of the cake comes out dry, its done. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before frosting.

While the cake is cooling, you can make the frosting!

Frosting Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 6 tbsp margarine
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips

Melt together the sugar, milk, and margarine in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute and take off the stove. Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips. Stir in until the chips are completely melted. If your frosting is too runny, let it sit on your counter for about 20 minutes or refrigerate for 5-7 minutes until it's reached a good spreading consistency.

January 7, 2011

Classic Hummus

I think the first time I had hummus was a couple of years ago. Boy was I missing out! It's so good with so many things. I use it mainly as a sandwich spread and a dip for tortilla chips, but you can also use it as a dip for veggies and pita chips too! It's also really good for you, just as long as you don't add too much salt! 

Meat eaters are always going on and on about meat being a complete protein, well guess what? So is Hummus! The protein from the chickpeas and the protein from the tahini combine to make a complete protein. I was watching Dr. Oz today and he said something about chickpeas being a superfood, so hummus has that going for it too, other than the fact that it's just plain delicious and super easy to make!

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Put all of the ingredients together in a food processor or blender and blend! It's that simple! If your hummus is to thick, just add more olive oil until it's the consistency you desire. If you think it's too thin, it will thicken up once it's refrigerated overnight, so don't worry.

You can also add any of your favorite flavors you want. I sometimes add a few slices of roasted red pepper. That's my favorite. You could add roasted eggplant or kalamata olives.

January 6, 2011

Three Bean Salad

I stumbled upon this salad in a natural food store's deli one day and it was seriously love at first bite. I love me some beans! So I had to recreate this for myself! The softness of the kidney beans and the bite of the garbanzo beans go so well with the sweetness of the green beans. And the onion adds just the right amount of kick to this salad. So here's another salad to add to your "vegan salad" repertoire!

  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup of garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas)
  • 1 cup of kidney beans
  • 1/2 of a small red onion
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

De-stem your green beans. I tend to leave the bottom ends of them on because I think they look pretty, but you can trim those off too if you want. I steam my vegetables but you could also blanch them in some boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Just enough so they still have a little bit of a crunchy bite. As you can see though, I used my vegetable steamer to steam mine.

While your green beans are steaming, in a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, vinegar, and agave nectar. Whisk in the garlic, salt, and pepper. Chop your onion. I usually just cut the onion in half and then cut the half of onion into long strips, so they're sort of the same length as the green beans.

Once your green beans are done cooking, if you've blanched them, drop them in a bowl of ice water for about 10 seconds so they retain their color. If you've steamed them, just let them cool for a while before adding them to the salad. Toss the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and onion in the large bowl of dressing. Add the green beans and toss together.

Seriously guys, if you like beans you have to try this! It's so delicious! And it only get's better after it's sat in the refrigerator for a couple of days!

January 3, 2011

Whole Wheat French Baguette

I love bread. I can't stop eating it and I think I have a problem. That being said, this is my basic whole wheat baguette recipe. It makes two small loves (so they fit in my oven!) or one large loaf. Feel free to add your favorite herbs and spices. If you're making the dough in a bread maker though, I've read that you shouldn't add garlic to it. It does something to the yeast during the initial rising. So add that after!

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp yeast

Place the ingredients in your bread maker's bread pan in the order as listed. Use your bread maker's dough setting. When the dough setting is complete, remove the dough from the bread pan, punch dough down, and place on lightly floured surface.

Roll the dough into a roughly 12"x16" rectangle, rolling to remove the air bubbles. As you can see, mine is not a rectangle. If you can get yours into a shape of a rectangle, more power to you. Divide the dough into 2 12"x8" pieces. Roll up tightly, jelly roll style, starting at the 12 inch side. Shape them into 12 inch long loaves. Place them about 3 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. With a sharp knife, make 3 to 4 slashes across the top of the loaves. Cover, and let rise in a warm, draft free place for about 30-40 minutes or until they've doubled in size.

Brush the top with some dairy free milk or margarine and bake in a preheated 375F oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until they're golden brown. They're wonderful for making bruschetta, french toast, or garlic bread. Enjoy!!

January 2, 2011

Crispy Smashed Roasted Potatoes

Hello again everyone! I'm so excited to share this recipe with all of you! This is one of my all time favorite things to eat. Once they've roasted in the oven, the potatoes get buttery and garlicky and melt-in-your-mouthy. So Good. They require a little labor to get the job done, but believe me it's worth it.

Be sure to buy little baby potatoes (also called "new potatoes"). It's much easier to smash and transfer them to a baking sheet if they're smaller.

  • 12-15 baby red or yellow potatoes
  • 2-3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp garlic - minced
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper

Put the potatoes in a deep sauce pan, cover with at least an inch of water. Add 1 tsp of salt to the water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Allow the potatoes to cook in the simmering water until they are completely tender, about 30-35 minutes.

Set up a double layer of dish towels. As the potatoes finish cooking, let them drain and sit for a minute or two on the dish towel. Repeat this process with the remaining potatoes.

Fold another dish towel into quarters. Place the towel over the resting potato and press down with the palms of your hands. Flatten the potato to a 1/2 inch thickness.

Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Put a sheet of parchment paper over the top of the foil. Put the smashed potatoes on the baking sheets and allow to cool completely. I usually refrigerate them for 1 to 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 450F. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt and pepper, and then pour the olive oil all over them. Lift the potatoes gently to make sure oil gets underneath. Sprinkle with the garlic and rosemary and put in the oven. Roast until crispy, about 30-40 minutes. Serve hot!