Friday, February 27, 2009

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I did an online search the other day for "egg-free cookies" because I wanted to make my first batch of vegan cookies. The butter in cookies is easy to replace with margarine to make cookies vegan, it's the eggs that are the trouble! I found a nice recipes on Recipezaar for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with raisins. The recipe used the reaction of baking soda and hot water to add extra leavening. As much as I love chocolate, making the leavening agent was by far the pinnacle event of this noble experiment. I was incredibly entertained by it's fizzing up...probably far more than the average person, considering I'm a biologist by profession and get my kicks from effervescing phenomena in the natural world. But I digress...

While the original recipe calls for chocolate chips, I couldn't find vegan chocolate chips in my grocery store. I did, however, find vegan chocolate, which I basically hacked into bits. I do suggest you try this method because you get a heterogeneous mixture of chocolate pieces...some large ones that get really gooey, and some small shards that melt into small ribbons and make each cookies look beautiful. Don't make the chunks too big, however, because, unfortunately, these cookies fall a little bit upon their removal from the oven, and large chunks will reduce the structural stability of the cookies.

I also diverted from the original by using golden raisins, because I prefer their tang over the dull, dark ones.

Oh, and I didn't have a full 2 cups of oats, like the original asked for, but I wasn't going to go to the store to buy oatmeal for a measly 1/2 cup. I just continued with the recipe as if there wasn't a problem. They tasted fine without that last 1/2 cup, although it could have added a little density to each cookie. Perhaps you'll have to be the judge of that one.

Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 cup vegan margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unbleached organic cane sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup boiling water
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 cups vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Beat the margarine, sugars and vanilla with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Add flour and salt to the margarine mixture, mix until most of the flour is incorporated; continue combining with a rubber spatula.
4. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, stir to combine, and add to mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and chocolate chips chunks.
5. Using two teaspoons, work to scoop the dough and shape each dough ball into a nice rounded shape. Drop the dough onto ungreased cookie sheet (or line with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat). Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Allow them to sit on the pan once they are removed from the oven for 10 minutes before removing them.
6. Makes 3 dozen. Serve with soy, almond, hemp or rice milk (or any other non-dairy milk I've neglected to mention), or a cup of coffee or tea for dipping!

Per cookie:
Calories: 137
Fat: 7.5 g
Saturated fat: 4.5 g
Cholesterol: 13 mg
Carbohydrates: 17.3 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sugar: 9.7 g
Protein: 1.6 g

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Almonds

I love stir-fries. They're easy to throw together, and I literally mean throw---you can throw in any vegetable you've got laying around, any type of protein that you prefer, and a soy-based sauce, and a side of rice, and you've got a complete meal.

The stir-fry I made tonight is based off one of my favorite side dishes, which is green bean almondine, which I typically add caramelized onions to instead of a buttery sauce to add richness. That was the base to this stir-fry, which includes broccoli, pepper, and crispy chunks of tofu.

Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Almonds

2 tbsp chopped almonds
1/2 lb firm tofu, cut into 1-inch chunks and blotted with a paper towel
1/4 medium red onion
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup whole frozen green beans
1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp demerara sugar
non-stick cooking spray

2 servings cooked rice

1. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring constantly, until the white part becomes light brown. Remove the almonds to the side and wipe the pan clean with a towel.
2. Heat the pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the tofu; brown the tofu on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the tofu to the side.
3. Drop the heat to medium, re-spray the pan, and add the onions. Cook the onions until they are translucent but still have crunch. Add the broccoli, green beans (they need not be thawed), peppers, and garlic and saute 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of the water and cover the pan; steam 3 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, blend the 2 tbsp of water, soy sauce, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add this to the vegetables once they are done steaming and stir the vegetables and sauce until they are covered with sauce and the sauce has thickened.
5. Add the tofu to the pan and toss it with the vegetables and sauce, coating each piece. Allow the whole mixture to cook together about 3 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
6. Serve the stir-fry over rice, garnished with the toasted almonds.

Servings per recipe: 2
Per serving, without rice:
Calories: 205
Fat: 8 g
Saturated fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 937 mg
Carbohydrates: 25.7 g
Fiber: 5.9 g
Sugar: 11 g
Protein: 14.5 g

Lemony Lentil Salad

Lately I've been bringing salads to work for lunch, but by the late afternoon I get mondo headaches because I've had such a wimpy lunch. While salad is a good idea, I think I need more protein and complex carbs to get me through my day! Last night, I whipped up some lentil salad from some dried organic French green lentils I got from my favorite health food store, Brighter Day, in Savannah Georgia. I'd been wanting to make something with them for a long time, and using them in this salad was definitely worthwhile. I cooked the lentils with lots of "flavoring agents," such as onion, garlic, lemon rind, cumin and cloves. The cloves might sound weird, but their sweet muskiness contrasts the earthiness of lentils beautifully. The dressing was nice and bright with lemon juice and cumin. To cut through the monochromatic green of the salad, I took a tip from Veganomicon's lentil salad and added some radish not just for the texture, but the contrasting color. I actually do feel more energized with lentils than I do lettuce!

Lemony Lentil Salad

For the lentils:

1 cup dried organic French green lentils, rinsed and picked over
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 strip of lemon rind (the circumference of the lemon)
1/4 of a white onion
2 whole cloves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp cumin

1. In a medium saucepan, bring the water to boil over high heat.
2. While the water is coming to a boil, remove the papery skin from the onion and cut the thinnest sliver of the root end off in order to keep the leaves of the onion intact. Insert the cloves into the onion.
3. Once the water is boiling, add all of the ingredients, and stir to combine. Bring the water back to a boil, drop the heat to medium, and partially cover the pan with a lid. Cook the lentils until they are tender, but are not mushy, about 30 minutes (they will continue to soften once they are added to the dressing).
4. Drain any remaining water from the lentils once they are cooked and extract the flavoring agents.

For the dressing and the rest of the salad:

2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 radishes, quartered and sliced
2 scallions, sliced
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley

1. Add the first 5 ingredients to the salad bowl and blend. Then, slowly drizzle the oil in and whisk to combine.
2. Add the lentils, radishes, and scallions to the dressing.
3. Cover the salad and allow it to sit in the fridge overnight. Toss the parsley in the salad before serving.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 214
Fat: 4 g
Saturated fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 305 mg
Carbohydrates: 31.9 g
Fiber: 15.1 g
Sugar: 2.8 g
Protein: 12.8 g

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mushroom, Bean, and Spinach Burgers

After making those sloppy Joes, I had several hamburger buns hanging around that needed something to go in the middle of them...a burger, appropriately enough. I basically pulled ingredients out of my fridge and threw them together to make Mushroom, Bean, and Spinach Burgers. They were nice and creamy on the inside because of the beans, but the outside was nice and crispy. I dressed mine simply with Dijon mustard, because I really need to go grocery shopping and didn't have much in the way of burger accoutrement, but you can use anything you like. These would probably be great with sliced avocado, tomato, and leaf lettuce.

Mushroom, Bean, and Spinach Burgers

1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups finely chopped mushrooms (1 8-oz package)
2 lg cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced onion
8 leaves fresh sage, minced
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
2 tsp paprika
2 cups coarsely shredded fresh spinach
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs, or more if necessary
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

4 whole wheat hamburger buns
hamburger toppings and dressings

1. In a medium bowl, mash the beans with the back of a fork; set aside.
2. In a medium non-stick skillet, heat 1 tsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and onion and saute them until they reduce in volume by approximately half.
3. Add the spinach, sage, rosemary, parsley, paprika, salt, and pepper to the mushroom mixture and stir this together until the spinach wilts. A little water may be necessary to encourage the spinach to wilt.
4. Transfer the spinach-mushroom mixture to the beans. Add the bread crumbs to the bowl and stir with a fork to combine, mashing the whole mixture together. It should come together and not be very sticky to the touch; more bread crumbs may be needed if the mixture will come together.
5. Lightly dampen your hands with water and make 4 evenly-sized patties.
6. Wipe the pan you used to saute clean with paper towels and reheat the pan over medium heat. Add the remaining oil and allow it to warm up. Place the patties in the pan and cook them until they are browned on the outside and warmed through, about 8 minutes.
7. Serve on whole wheat hamburger buns with any veggies or dressings that you like.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving, without buns:
Calories: 157
Fat: 3.7 g
Saturated fat: 0.6 g
Cholesterol: o mg
Sodium: 117 mg
Carbohydrates: 24.6 g
Fiber: 5 g
Sugar: 2.6 g
Protein: 7.9 g

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tempeh and Pinto Bean Sloppy Joes

The other day for some strange reason a song that Adam Sandler used to sing about lunch ladies and sloppy Joes popped into my head, and I haven't forgotten about it because it made me crave sloppy Joes! I had some tempeh in my fridge, and I thought that the tempeh combined with creamy pinto beans would yield just the right texture for sloppy Joes. For the sauce, I recalled seeing Manwich sloppy Joe sauce being made on Food Network's Unwrapped. One of the secret ingredients was cinnamon oil, so I decided to add a little cinnamon to my sauce for these Tempeh and Pinto Bean Sloppy Joes, along with several other spices, some veggies, and sugar and vinegar to get the sweet-and-sour thing going on. I honestly had trouble resisting eating a second sandwich because these were so good. The tempeh and beans had a more "meat-like" consistency than textured vegetable protein-based hamburger crumbles, and then the sauce was nice and thick and rich after the beans cooked down into it. This came together really quickly, too which is an added bonus.

Tempeh and Pinto Bean Sloppy Joes

1 tsp canola oil
1 8-oz package tempeh, any flavor, finely chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely diced, any color
1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can organic pinto beans, drained and rinsed
salt, to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
dash cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
1 8-oz can no salt added tomato sauce
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard

4 whole wheat hamburger buns

1. Heat a medium non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the oil and allow it to heat through.
2. Add the tempeh to the hot oil and saute the tempeh until it is lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Then, add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and continue to saute until the onions are translucent.
3. Add the beans and cook them until the moisture on the outside has evaporated off of them. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Combine the spices and vegetable mixture, pressing down on the beans to squish some of them. Cook for one minute more to toast the spices.
4. Add the tomato sauce, soy sauce, sugar, mustard and vinegar and reduce the heat to medium. Stir well and let cook about 5 minutes more or until the sauce thickens and more of the beans split open.
5. Serve the mixture on whole wheat hamburger buns.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving, without buns:
Calories: 243
Fat: 8.2 g
Saturated fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: o mg
Sodium: 621 mg
Carbohydrates: 29.7 g
Fiber: 4.8 g
Sugar: 10.9 g
Protein: 15.9 g

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Purple Cabbage Coleslaw with Mandarin Oranges and Kiwi

I like salads with the sweet-savory thing going on; salad with both fruits and vegetables. It's a great way to get many of the vitamins you need because you get to eat so many different colored fruits an vegetables. Last night I decided to make a vinegar-based fruit and vegetable coleslaw because I had some purple cabbage hanging out in the fridge. I combined the cabbage with kiwi, carrots, and mandarin oranges, along with toasted sesame oil to give it an "Asian" flavor. Not only was this a beautiful dish with the orange, green, and purple, it was so easy to make. It's the perfect salad as we approach springtime.

Purple Cabbage Coleslaw with Mandarin Oranges and Kiwi

1 small head of purple cabbage, shredded
2 scallions, sliced on the bias
2 15-oz cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 kiwi, quartered and sliced
1 medium carrot, julienned
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp demerara sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

sesame seeds and sliced scallion for garnish

1. Add all the ingredients, except the garnishes, to medium a bowl. Toss everything thoroughly, but gently.
2. Cover the bowl with a lid and refrigerate overnight. Toss before serving and sprinkle on the garnishes.

Servings per recipe: 6
Per serving, without garnishes:
Calories: 151
Fat:4.8 g
Saturated fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: o mg
Sodium: 76 mg
Carbohydrates: 27.4 g
Fiber: 3.8 g
Sugar: 22.5 g
Protein: 2.1 g

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stir-Fried Tofu and Vegetable Teriyaki

This past Christmas I received several vegan cookbooks. One of them was called Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson. This cookbook was particularly special to me because my dad spent a lot of time searching through the store to find the perfect book for me. He chose this because I am a busy grad student and need plenty of recipes that can be prepared quickly. I also need those recipes to be healthy.

Tonight I chose to make Stir-Fried Tofu and Vegetable Teriyaki. It only took me 30 minutes to make this, including a side dish of rice. With this dish, you get the benefit of a dark green vegetable along with the vitamin C of the red pepper and the vitamin A of the carrot. In the side bar of the recipe, it said that you could use bottled teriyaki instead of what's called for in the recipe, but honestly I don't know why you would because the sauce was so amazing! It's worth the effort to have a sweet-and-sour sesame sauce without all the funky ingredients in a bottled sauce. The only things I did differently for this recipe is I cut out the oil from sauteing. I used my trusty cooking spray for the tofu sauteing and vegetable sauteing steps, instead of a tbsp of oil for each. Also, I chose to cut the tofu into cubes, and not slices, just so it would be easier to toss. Finally, I ended up cooking the tofu over medium-high heat because it wasn't browning quickly enough, and I was hungry! I had this with brown rice and it came together as a satisfying meal.

Stir-Fried Tofu and Vegetable Teriyaki

2 tbsp canola oil (I used non-stick cooking spray instead)
1 lb extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices (cubes, perhaps?)
3 scallions, minced
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup thinly sliced carrots (I julienned these)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen red bell pepper strips
1 garlic clove, minced (I used 2)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup tamari
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tbsp light brown sugar
salt and pepper, to taste

4 servings of cooked brown rice
scallions for garnish, optional

1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil (or cooking spray) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook, turning one, until golden brown, 8-10 min. I bumped the heat up to medium high as soon as I added to tofu so as not to scorch the oil, just to get it to cook in the 10-min time frame. Remove the tofu from the skillet and set aside on a plate.
2. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil (or cooking spray) in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallions, broccoli, carrots, and bell pepper strips, and stir-fry until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the tofu back to the skillet and set aside while to prepare the sauce.
3. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, orange juice, tamari, sesame oil, lemon juice, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend well. Reheat the skillet over medium-high heat. Pour the sauce over the tofu and vegetables and cook, stirring gently, until the tofu and vegetables are hot and well coated with the sauce, about 5 minutes.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving, without rice:
Calories: 206
Fat: 11.9 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: o mg
Sodium: 1055 mg
Carbohydrates: 15.6 g
Fiber: 3.7 g
Sugar: 8.3 g
Protein: 13.2 g

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tahini-Lime Tempeh and Rainbow Vegetables

Tahini, or sesame seed butter, is one of the main components of hummus, a middle-eastern chickpea dip that is a staple for many vegetarians and vegans. I bought a huge container of tahini recently for the purpose of making hummus, however there is so much tahini I'm not going to be able to to use it up any time soon! I needed to find another use for the tahini. One of my friends suggested using it to make a sauce for cooked vegetables, so I thought I might try it out. I made a marinade of soy sauce and lime juice for tempeh and then cooked the tempeh with a plethora of vegetables. Since you're supposed to eat every color of the rainbow in vegetables, I thought I might combine them in one dish! So, I have red onion and bell pepper, orange carrots, yellow corn, green beans, and purple cabbage (sorry there's no true blue my knowledge there are no blue vegetables). All of this came together to make Tahini-Lime Tempeh with Rainbow Vegetables.

The sauce was tangy from the lime and buttery from the tahini. Plus, there was the soy sauce flavor, which is pretty my favorite flavor in the whole world (I wish there were soy sauce potato chips!). I cooked the veggies until they were tender-crisp, so they kept their texture. Overall, it was a very satisfying way to use my vat of tahini.

Tahini-Lime Tempeh and Rainbow Vegetables

8 oz tempeh, any variety

For the marinade:
1/8 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice of 2 large limes

For the rest of the dish:
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium or 2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the bias
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup whole frozen green beans
1/2 small head of purple cabbage, shredded
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 tsp ground coriander
4 tsp agave nectar
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the bias, for garnish
non-stick cooking spray

4 servings rice, prepared according to package directions

1. Blend the marinade ingredients together. Cut the tempeh into 3/4" chunks and add to the marinade and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile, cut up your vegetables.
2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Drain the tempeh, reserving the marinade, and add the tempeh and saute until they are browned, about 3 minutes. Remove them to the pan and immediately add the first 9 lines of ingredients (through garlic) to the pan and saute about 10 minutes or until the green beans have thawed and the veggies are tender-crisp.
3. Blend the tahini into the reserved marinade and add the coriander and agave. Pour the sauce over the vegetables, stir them to coat and allow the tahini to melt. Add the tempeh chunks back in and fold to combine. Drop the heat to medium-low and simmer 3 minutes.
4. Divide the rice and vegetable-tempeh mixture between 4 plates. Garnish with scallion.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving, without rice:
Calories: 303
Fat: 14.9 g
Saturated fat: 2.5 g
Cholesterol: o mg
Sodium: 949 mg
Carbohydrates: 31.8 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sugar: 10.2 g
Protein: 17.1 g

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Zucchini Parmesan and Valentine's Day

First of all, Happy Valentine's Day! I hope everyone has been able to spend the day or at least receive a gift from someone special, and most importantly, has been able to eat some beautiful vegetarian food!

I have to send a shout out to my honey by posting a picture of the beautiful gift I received from him this week: a big bouquet of perfect pink flowers. It was such a great surprise. I've kept them on my night stand so they're the first thing I see when I wake up in the morning, along with a picture of us!

Today I chose a dish that would not only make a great Valentine's meal (in case you're still working on that one..), but has also been one of my favorite foods since I was little. It's pretty strange, I know, that zucchini can be evocative of childhood memories, but for me, it's true. Zucchini, which is really a summer vegetable, was always in abundance in our garden and my grandparent's garden, so I had plenty of opportunity to eat one of my most favorite dishes of all, Zucchini Parmesan, as a child. It's not like eggplant Parmesan, where you have fried, crusted pieces of squash in sauce. This dish, instead, has sauteed zucchini and onions smothered in marinara and topped with a little mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I always have!

Zucchini Parmesan

1 lb (2 medium) zucchini, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
a few tbsp water, for steaming
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
fresh parsley, for garnish
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the zucchini, onion, and garlic and saute until the onion is partially translucent. Season with the dried herbs and salt and pepper.
2. Add a tbsp or two of water and put the lid on the pan. Steam the vegetables until they are very soft, about 10 minutes. Stir them occasionally to make sure they don't stick to the pan.
3. Add the marinara sauce to the vegetables and stir to combine.
4. Spray a 1.5 qt casserole dish with cooking spray. Add the zucchini mixture, then layer on the cheeses. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheeses have melted and the sauces is bubbling around the edges. Remove it from the oven and let it sit firm up for about 3 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Makes 2 main course servings or 4 side dish servings
For 1 main course serving:
Calories: 268
Fat: 10.9 g
Saturated fat: 5.4 g
Cholesterol: 22 mg
Sodium: 763 mg
Carbohydrates: 29.7 g
Fiber: 6.3 g
Sugar: 16.4 g
Protein: 14.8 g

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Banana Raisin Peanut Bread

I have a habit of clipping recipes out of magazines and never using them. The other day, however, I came across one interesting recipe that I must have clipped out of Vegetarian Times years ago. Actually, it looks like one of those recipes that comes along with an advertisement for some product, and for this one I'm going to guess raisins. Anyway, the recipe was called Banana Raisin Peanut Bread. It seemed like the perfect candidate for veganization. For this one, I wanted to do the flax seed + water egg replacing method. Since there were already nuts in this recipe, I figured the flax flavor would meld in well.

Making the flax seed egg replacer was super easy. I used the PPK version, where 1 tbsp flax seeds + 3 tbsp of water = 1 egg. All it takes is a blender. After that, the bread came together in about 15 minutes, with most of that time was spent climbing up on a chair looking for some of the ingredients. This bread turned out really moist and really peanut buttery. It reminded me of a variation of the good ol' PB&J because of the grapy raisins. I think it'll be the perfect change from my usual toast and peanut butter for breakfast.

Banana Raisin Peanut Bread

2 tbsp flax seeds
6 tbsp water
3 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup organic cane sugar
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (my favorite is Skippy Natural)
1 cup (2 medium) mashed ripe bananas
3 tbsp plain light soy milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup raisins (I used a combination of regular and golden raisins)
1/2 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.
2. Finely grind the flax seeds in a blender. Add the water and blend until well combined and frothy, about 1 min. Set aside.
3. Stir together oil, peanut butter, vanilla extract, sugar, and flax mixture; blend in banana and milk.
4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to banana mixture; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in raisins and peanuts. Spoon batter into pan. The batter will be very thick; pat the batter into the corners of the pan.
5. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Servings per recipe: 12
Per serving:
Calories: 282
Fat: 11 g
Saturated fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 140 mg
Carbohydrates: 42.6 g
Fiber: 2.6 g
Sugar: 20.9 g
Protein: 6.4 g

Vegetable Love 2009: Potato-Topped Baked Ratatouille

Here is my entry for the Fatfree Vegan Kitchen Vegetable Love 2009 contest. The theme of the contest is to cook low-fat, vegan, vegetable-filled dishes for Valentine's day. I really love the concept of this type of food because it's healthy: low-fat, low-to-no cholesterol, high in fiber and vitamins. While Valentine's day is typically seen as a holiday surrounded by chocolate and decadence, it really seems more loving to give your special someone something that will sustain them both body and soul. I mean, I want to give someone my heart, not give them a heart attack!

When I think romantic food, the type of food that comes to mind is French cuisine. Therefore, for my entry, I did a variation on the classical Provencal dish ratatouille. For this version, I cooked a variety of vegetables until they were meltingly tender underneath a layer of crispy potatoes. For those of you who thought you were a lifetime member of the Eggplant Haters Annonymous Club, this recipe might change your mind.

Potato-Topped Baked Ratatouille

1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup orange or red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 lb eggplant, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 lb zucchini, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup white or red wine, whatever you are serving with dinner
1 14.5 oz can reduced sodium diced tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
10 leaves fresh sage, minced
2 tbsp minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp agave nectar or sugar, to taste (optional)
1/2 lb red potatoes (about 2 small-to-medium), thinly sliced
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat the over to 400 degrees F. Bring a saucepan of water to boil. Salt the water and add the potatoes and cook for 4 minutes to parboil them. Drain the potatoes and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the onion and cook until partially translucent. Then, add the garlic and bell pepper and cook until the onion is completely translucent.
3. Add the eggplant, zucchini, and rosemary. Bring the heat to medium-high and cook until the eggplant and zucchini soften, about 10 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until the wine has evaporated.
4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, sage, parsley, salt, and pepper. Drop the heat back to medium and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste the mixture in between to see if the tomatoes are too tart; add the sugar or agave nectar if desired. The vegetables can be smashed with the back of your spatula to help make the mixture creamier.
5. Spray a 1.5 qt nonreactive baking dish with cooking spray. Layer in the ratatoille in the dish. Then, decoratively arrange the potatoes, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and pepper and spray with a little cooking spray. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake 20 minutes more, or until the potatoes become crispy and browned. Garnish with fresh herbs.

Servings per recipe: 2
Per serving:
Calories: 255
Fat: 1.4 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 g
Sodium: 338 mg
Carbohydrates: 53.1 g
Fiber: 14.8 g
Sugar: 18.9 g
Protein: 8.9 g

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chocolate Almond Rock Candy

One of my favorite channels on youtube, Cooking With Alia, features recipes that showcase the tastes of Morocco. One of the recipes presented that caught my eye was for Chocolate Peanut Rocks, which are small chocolate candies that have roasted peanuts and coconut in them. I thought it would be the perfect thing for a Valentine's gift package to send to my boyfriend all the way in Indiana. I swapped the peanuts for the almonds, since that's what he prefers, and used dark chocolate (60% cacao). I also decorated them with Valentine sprinkles. The result was a deep, dark cocoa flavor along with chewy coconut and crunchy almonds. They're definetely addicting. The sprinkles kept them in the Valentine theme, but are totally optional. They were pretty cute, though...

Chocolate Almond Rock Candy

9 oz good-quality chocolate chips or small chunks (dark or milk chocolate)
1 1/2 cups whole unsalted toasted almonds
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut (or 1 cup unsweetened coconut + 2 tbsp powdered sugar)
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp canola oil
mini cupcake paper liners
colored sprinkles, optional

1. To toast the almonds, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the almonds in a single layer. Place in the oven and roast, 8 min, or until they are a little darker brown. Coarsely chop and set aside.
2. Bring the water in a double boiler to boil (or in a medium saucepan). Place the chocolate in the bowl that fits over top (or if using a saucepan, a glass or stainless steel bowl that fits completely over the top) and allow it to melt. Remove from heat and blend in the oil, vanilla, sweetened coconut (or unsweetened coconut + powdered sugar), and chopped almonds.
3. Using two spoons, add a small amount to the paper liners. Sprinkle each with some sprinkles. It's easiest if you line the cups up on a cookie sheet, and then start filling. Then, you can rap the pan on the work surface to make sure the chocolate mixture settles. I made about 35 total, but this depends on how full you fill your cups. Mine were at about 3/4 of the way full.
4. Allow them to cool at room temperature, about an hour, or about 20 minutes in the fridge. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for about 5-7 days.

Servings per recipe: 35
Per candy:
Calories: 74
Fat: 5.3 g
Saturated fat: 2.4 g
Cholesterol: 2 mg
Sodium: 6 mg
Carbohydrates: 5.6 g
Fiber: 1 g
Sugar: 4.1 g
Protein: 1.5 g

I hope you all have a lovely Valentine's day full of beautiful food!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chickpea Cutlets with Mushroom and White Wine Sauce

Tonight I wanted something with a lot of protein; something very "Sunday Night Dinner." I decided to try the Chickpea Cutlet recipe out of Veganomicon (by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero), along with my Mushroom and White Wine Sauce. For some reason, I have been somewhat intimidated by this recipe. Maybe it's because I had never used vital wheat gluten before...just reading about the "strings of gluten forming" made me think that there was a possibility of screwing this recipe up. Maybe it's because it was featured in a Chow article that said it had medium difficulty (ooh, it's not easy...heaven forbid I challenge myself).

To be honest, these came together rather quickly. The most difficult part of preparing these was judging when they were cooked. I have never worked with vital wheat gluten before, as I said, so it took me a while to judge what "cooked" was.
I ended up taking one off the heat and cutting into it to see if it was still squishy. I found the best way to tell if these are done is when they are really, really browned. The only thing is that they could have used a little more moisture than the amount of water it called for. As I was forming them, they were kind of falling apart at the edges. I may add a tbsp or so more water, to solve that problem. Overall, they had a great texture and a nice amount of herbs. I think next time I might omit the lemon zest and add oregano and basil instead, then after searing them combine them with sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms and then simmering the cutlets and the veggies in marinara sauce for a chickpea cutlet cacciatore! (perhaps more on that later...). My sauce went with it really well because it was tangy, which paired with the lemon and the thyme in the cutlets. It made the whole thing taste like a grown-up Salisbury steak, veganized, of course.

Chickpea Cutlets

1 cup cooked chickpeas (I used organic canned chickpeas)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup vegetable broth or water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika
1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage
Olive oil for pan frying (I used non-stick cooking spray)

1. In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas together with the oil until no chickpeas are left. Add the remaining ingredients and knead together for about 3 minutes, until strings of gluten have formed.
2. Preheat a large heavy-bottomed nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, divide the cutlet dough into 4 equal pieces. To form cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one into a roughly 6 by 4 inch rectangular cutlet shape. The easiest way to do this is to form a rectangle shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them.
3. Add a moderately thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan (or a thorough layer of cooking spray). Place the cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for 6 to 7 minutes. Add more
oil, if needed, when you flip the cutlets. They’re ready when lightly browned and firm to the touch. *Alternatively, use the baking instructions.

*Baking instructions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Brush both sides of each patty with olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip patties and bake another 8-10 minutes till firm and golden-brown.

Servings: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 242
Fat: 8.75 g
Saturated fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 559.5 mg
Carbohydrates: 24.2 g
Fiber: 3.8 g
Sugar: 2.8 g
Protein: 17.2 g

Mushroom and White Wine Sauce

cooking spray
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 12 medium)
2 clove garlic, grated
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried sage

1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the mushrooms and saute.
2. Once the mushrooms have started to release moisture, add the garlic and season with a little salt a pepper (remember to use only a little salt, because this is a reduction, so the salt will be more intense in the final product) and keep sauteeing until the mushrooms are completely softened.
3. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir vigorously to coat them. Allow the flour to turn light brown.
4. Slowly pour in the wine, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Once the mixture starts to thicken, add the broth, thyme, and sage.
5. Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. The thickness of the sauce is dependent on you...allow it to boil and reduce for a while for a thick sauce, or keep it on the thin side and take it off the heat once it comes to a boil. Remember, since this is a flour-thickened sauce, it will become thicker upon standing off the heat.

Servings: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 83
Fat: 0.5 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 196 mg
Carbohydrates: 6.5 g
Fiber: .5 g
Sugar: 1.2 g
Protein: 2.8 g

Moroccan-Spiced Vegetable Saute with Couscous

I've been trying to expand my repertoire in terms of cooking foods inspired by other countries. Yesterday I was thinking that I wanted to do something with a lot of spices and a lot of different vegetables. Then I thought about something with Moroccan flavor, which is perfect for the Valentine's time of year because one of the most romantic movies of all time, Casablanca, is set in Morocco. Therefore, what could be more romantic than Moroccan food?

This would be great for the main course of a Moroccan Valentine's dinner. Start off with some eggplant salad and bread, serve the Moroccan-Spiced Vegetable Saute with Couscous, then finish the meal with dates, almonds, and maybe some chocolates and some Moroccan mint tea. Seems romantic enough to me! I can almost see Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman sitting down to eat something like between bouts of fighting, of course.

Moroccan-Spiced Vegetable Saute with Couscous

nonstick cooking spray
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup sweet potato (about 1/2 lb), cut into small cubes
1 14.5-15 oz can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canned petite-diced tomatoes, with the juice
2 cups water
1 cup bell pepper, any color, chopped
1 cup zucchini, sliced
2 cups shredded kale
1 tbsp each chopped fresh parsley and cilantro

4 servings cooked whole wheat couscous

1. Heat a medium pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and add the onions. Saute the onions until they are translucent.
2. Add the next 10 ingredients (through the water), and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium again, then cover with a lid and cook 20 minutes, stirring a couple of times to keep the ingredients from sticking.
3. Add the zucchini and peppers, stir to combine, and cook, covered, 10 minutes. Then, add the kale and fresh herbs, stir to combine, and cook, covered, 10 minutes more.
4. Serve the vegetables on a bed of couscous.

Servings: 4
Per serving, without couscous:
Calories: 177
Fat: 2.2 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 341 mg
Carbohydrates: 33.9 g
Fiber: 8.1 g
Sugar: 8.3 g
Protein: 8.0 g

"Here's lookin at you, kid."
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