5.23.2017

Curried Rainbow Vegetable Skillet

I'm not a huge fan of spring.  It is generally my least favorite season, at least until it is the middle of August hits and I'm cursing summer for being too damn hot.  In the Pacific Northwest, spring is generally a four month long tease that winter is over.  For us, it has been the rainiest season ever.  Literally, it was the rainiest winter and spring on record this last year.  Welcome to earth Ben, it rains a lot here!




The one reprieve we get in the spring is that some better quality and better priced produce starts showing up in the grocery store.  At my local grocery store I found asparagus for $1.89 per pound.  Chyah!  Last night I felt like having lighter dinner with lots of veggies, so in went my asparagus along with some other bright veggies.

I always have lentils cooked and frozen in the freezer to quickly thaw and add to meals like this, but feel free to leave out this ingredient or to use another cooked bean you like.  I also have a homemade (thanks mom) potato bag that cooks my potatoes in the microwave within minutes.  The cooking time for lentils and potato are therefore not included in my estimate below.

Curried Rainbow Vegetable Skillet
Time: 10 minute prep, 15 minute saute
Servings: 2 main servings or 4 side servings

Ingredients:
    Saute:
        1/2 red onion, diced
        1 small red bell pepper, diced
        1/2 bunch asparagus, bottom edges trimmed and 1/2 " sliced on the bias
    Pre-cooked ingredients to add:
        1 medium sweet potato, cooked, peeled, and cubed
        1 cup cooked brown lentils
    Quick Curry Sauce:
        3/4 cup plant-based milk, ideally unsweetened
        1 Tbsp almond butter, any nut/seed butter could work... maybe not PB, but you do you
        1 Tbsp curry powder, I used a Caribbean Curry spice mix
        salt, to taste

Instructions:
1.)  Prep all ingredients.  In a large skillet over medium-high heat dry saute the red onion, bell pepper, and asparagus, adding only small amounts of water as needed to prevent the vegetables from burning and sticking to the pan.
2.)  In a small bowl mix together the curry sauce ingredients.  Turn heat down to medium-low and add the sweet potato, lentils, and curry sauce.  Continue to cook and toss ingredients until the sauce has thickened and coated the vegetables.
3.)  Serve immediately.  I bet this would be amazing as a cold salad as well, maybe with extra sweet potato.  Bring it to a potluck.  Be the envy of your friends.


Amy's Notes:
Like I said above the recipe, I always have lentils prepped in the freezer, but if you don't and need to make this RIGHT NOW, here is a quick tutorial on how to cook lentils on the stovetop.  If you have an electric pressure cooker: 1 cup dried lentils, 2 cups water, high pressure for 6 minutes, natural pressure release, drain any excess water

  The sweet potatoes I used are the ones with a white/cream colored flesh, not orange like a yam.   I just throw mine into a potato bag and microwave it for 8 minutes.  My mom made me one for Christmas from this pattern I believe.  I know some people have a problem with microwaving their food, but in my mind, I think it is better to be able to get a cooked potato in my mouth relatively quickly than to turn to snacking on other unhealthy items (ahem... chips and crackers are my weakness).  Alternatively, you can bake ahead of time or steam your potato in a pressure cooker.

I found that this was plenty hearty enough for a main meal, but if you'd like you can double the curry sauce and serve over brown rice or your favorite whole grain.  Topping with cilantro would probably be pretty tasty too.  I just didn't have any on hand.


Health and Happiness,

Amy

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5.18.2017

5-Minute Banana Bread Oatmeal

I eat oatmeal every. single. day.  And I love it!  Oatmeal is probably my second favorite food, second only to watermelon (ooooohhhh yeeeaaahhh watermelon season is just around the corner!!!).  I first loved oatmeal when I was in high school.  My dad started eating oatmeal in the mornings to help with his blood pressure and cholesterol that was high at the time from medication he had to take for his autoimmune kidney disease (which is totally gone now thanks to a WFPB diet!).  Even in high school I had (and still have) that "I want to be like daddy" feeling.  So, I tried oatmeal with a bunch of brown sugar and loved it.  At that time it was my new favorite dessert.

When I started a Nutritarian lifestyle my junior year of college in 2011, I had oatmeal a few times a week for breakfast, but with no brown sugar this time.  I loved it cooked with bananas and plant milk the most.  Then a few years into eating this way I started to lean towards having just fruit or a smoothie for breakfast, having oatmeal less frequently.

Now, as a breastfeeding mom, oatmeal is my everyday morning companion.  Oatmeal is one of those foods that is always suggested to help mothers maintain their milk supply.  Here is a nice article about that.  I'm happy that my daily oatmeal is now not only good for me, but good for Ben too.  Since I have oatmeal most every morning, I've slowly perfected several recipes that I love.  #1 on that list is Banana Bread Oatmeal.  This is the ultimate bowl of cozy yum yum!

Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 servings

Ingredients:
    Oatmeal:
        1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
        3/4 to 1 cup boiling water (I use water heated in my teapot)
        1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds (optional)
    Banana bread goo:
        1 small-medium banana
        1/2 cup plant-based milk
        1/2 tsp vanilla extract
        1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg)
        2 Tbsp chopped walnuts

Instructions:
1.)  In a smaller bowl mix together the rolled oats and ground flaxseeds.  Pour 3/4-1 cup boiling water over evenly and allow to sit while you prepare the other ingredients.
2.)  In a medium-sized bowl mash the banana with a fork until creamy but with some chunks.  Add in the plant-based milk, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice, and walnuts, stirring thoroughly.
3.)  Place banana mixture in the microwave for 1 minute on high.
4.)  Take the steeping oatmeal and scoop onto the heated banana mixture.  Serve immediately.

Amy's Notes:
If you prefer your oatmeal less chewy, cook it on the stovetop before combining it with the banana mixture.  I find my this way of cooking it is easier (because I'm already heating water for tea in the morning) and produces a chewy texture that I prefer oatmeal to be.  Adjust it to your tastes though.  :)


Health and Happiness,

Amy

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3.03.2017

BOSS Smoothie

The Husband and I often unnecessarily create acronyms for everyday random things.  We don't constantly talk in acronyms like robots, but make one up because we think it's funny, use it heavily for half an hour, then forget about it thereafter until we think of a new one.  Because that's how we do.  Love that man.  For example,

TMB: tight mama booty
SMS: so much spit-up (thanks Ben)

And today, the BOSS Smoothie.

BOSS Smoothie (Banana-Orange-Strawberry-Soy Milk)
Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1-2 servings

Ingredients:
        2 oranges, peeled
        1 cup frozen strawberries
        1 frozen banana
        1 cup unsweetened soy or other plant-milk
        1 cup ice cubes

Instructions:
1.)  Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender.
2.)  Start on low speed and gradually increase to high.
3.)  Blend for 45-60 seconds on high speed.  Serve immediately.


Amy's Notes:
I whipped up this little yum yum before Kevin headed to work today and we split it.  Could easily be one large serving too.  And now, a bit of Kevin and Ben humor to start your weekend.


Great job Ben!


We're so proud of you!




Here Dad, have a beer.  You saw nothing.


Health and Happiness,

Amy

2.28.2017

Marinated Eggplant and Tofu with Greens

Eggplant is one of those veggies I always forget about.  I don't often plan to make recipes with eggplant, it never pops out from the produce shelves at me, and if I do manage to get one in the cart and into my fridge, I often forget about it until it is past its veggie prime.  Not this time!

I brought one home and was determined to use it up and make something yummy!  Once I got home from the store I cubed it, threw it in a plastic bag with a nice marinade... and let it sit there for a few days... marinating and totally not forgetting about it. ;)

I decided to cook it up this morning while my little potato napped and threw in some extra firm tofu to soak up some of the excess sauce.  Add in some greens, serve on top of brown rice, and you totally have a fantastic, filling lunch.

Hope you enjoy my forgotten eggplant recipe!  You certainly don't have to marinade for as long as I TOTALLY meant to either.

Marinated Asian Eggplant with Tofu and Greens
Time: 4 hour-2 day marinade, 5 minute prep, 20 minute saute
Servings: 4 servings


Ingredients:
    Eggplant Marinade:
        1 small eggplant, top trimmed off, cubed
        2 Tbsp sweet red chili sauce
        1 Tbsp teryaki sauce
        1 Tbsp soy sauce
        1 Tbsp rice vinegar
        1 Tbsp sesame seeds
     
    Saute:
        Eggplant Marinade (do not drain)
        1- 12 to 14 oz block extra firm tofu (I used Soyganic Organic Extra Firm Tofu)
        4-6 cups chopped dark greens (I used kale.)

    Green onions and sriracha to top

Instructions:
1.)  Put all of the marinade ingredients in a medium sized ziplock bag.  Seal and give a good toss.  Let marinade, tossing occasionally, for 4 hours or up to two days.
2.)  After the eggplant has marinaded, prep the remaining ingredients.  Drain and pat the tofu dry, gently squeezing out some of the excess moisture before you cube it.
3.)  Over medium-high heat, add the cubed tofu and eggplant, reserving the extra juices from the marinade.  Saute, adding the rest of the marinade gradually.  Continue to saute until most of the liquid has evaporated (10-15 minutes).
4.)  Reduce heat and add the greens.  Stir in and heat until lightly wilted and bright green.
5.)  Serve hot over brown rice and top with chopped green onions and sriracha if desired.



Amy's Notes:
If you have more foresight than I do, you could also marinade the tofu with the eggplant, but this is not necessary.  Smart, but not necessary.


As a side note (and self-high five), the green onions pictured in this recipe were grown from green onion bottoms I saved and kept in water on my kitchen window sill.  I'm trying for a third growth now.... we'll see what happens!

Health and Happiness,

Amy



2.22.2017

Smokey Pecan Brussels Sprouts from The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your InstantPot

Have you guys been seeing InstantPot in the news lately?  They have become wildly popular with a fairly basic marketing scheme: word-of-mouth.  For those of you who have already joined the pressure cooker party, you are going to love this.  For those who need an extra push to get one, this new cookbook by Kathy Hester is it!

It is called The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot and it has quickly become my new favorite cookbook.  She has written it with particular instructions to make it easy and simple to use with an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker (of any size and model), but it could easily be used for other brands of electric pressure cookers as well as stovetop pressure cookers.


What sets Kathy's book apart from other pressure cooker cookbooks I have is that every single recipe has a picture.  So what?  Well, I love a cookbook with gorgeous pictures for the same reason I love reading recipe blogs.  You get to live the recipe before you make it.  On any normal day when I'm starting to get hungry for lunch, I wouldn't normally pick to make a recipe called "Snowy Day Potato Cabbage Soup" (page 130 in the cookbook), but when you see this cozy cup of soup sprinkled with parsley, you think "yes, that could totally be me snuggled under a blanket by the fire eating this soup."  This recipe is great, by the way.  I've already made it twice already.

The sections of the book are as follows as well as the recipes I've tried from each (I've highlighted my favorites in pink.  These will go into my regular rotation for sure!):
  • Five Recipes to Start You Out
    • The Best Not-Refried Black Beans
  • Quick and Easy Homemade Staples to Save You Money
    • Plain Applesauce
    • DIY Andouille Seitan Sausage
    • Tequila-Lime Jalapeno Really Hot Sauce
    • Make Your Own Jalapeno Powder
  • Bean and Lentil Recipes that Cook in Half the Time
    • Thai Red Curry Chickpea Spread
  • Fun and Delicious Ways to Add in More Whole Grains
    • Perfect Kamult (and Other Long-Cooking Grains) - used on whole oats
  • Eat Your Vegetables: Easy and Elegant Plant-Based Fare
    • Smoke Pecan Brussels Sprouts (featured below)
    • Healthy Cream of Asparagus Soup
    • Snowy Day Potato Cabbage Soup
    • Vegan Cauliflower Queso
  • Fast and Comforting One-Pot Meals
    • Winter One-Pot Lentils and Rice
  • Cook it All at the Same Time: Layered Meals with Sides
    • One-Pot Burrito Bowls
  • Decadent and Healthy Desserts
    • Vanilla Spice Tea Concentrate
I've had this cookbook in my hands for maybe two or three weeks, and you can see I have gone to town!  My favorite recipe (that would be worth it to get the cookbook on its own) is the Vanilla Spice Tea Concentrate.  It's made by pressure cooking water with spices, steaping in tea afterwards, and then you have a concentrated chai-like tea to heat (or have over ice) with an equal amount of plant milk (sweetened if you like).  

My parents, who are also plant-based, came to visit to see me (Who am I kidding?  They are totally here to see my little potato.  And who could blame them?) last weekend.  While on the drive across the state they usually stop for a little treat at Starbucks, most often for a chai tea latte.  I tested out the recipe the day before they got here and holy smokes!  Waaaaayyyy better than Starbucks!  I made it for them the next morning with our breakfast and my mom immediately got onto Amazon to order her own copy of the cookbook along with a bulk order of the spices needed to make the tea.

To make a batch of the tea, the ingredients cost me around $2 and it made 8 servings.  That's 8 chai lattes I wouldn't buy from a coffee stand for $5 each.  With the cost of the plant milk added in, each latte I make at home is well under $1 each.  Plus, I know exactly what goes into my tea and can control if I want it with more or less sweetener each time.

But here I am rambling on about a tea when you came here to see what these Smokey Pecan Brussels Sprouts are all about.  I've made this recipe twice... and ate the whole pot in one sitting... twice.  The recipe says it is for 4 side servings, but as a Nutritarian, I can eat LOTS of veggies, so I would say it is closer to 2 sides or 1 meal size serving.  The sweet of the maple syrup with the smokey bitter of the Brussels sprouts pair perfectly.  This would be an ideal recipe for a family holiday dinner side.  Or to make randomly and eat shamelessly all to yourself.


Smokey Pecan Brussels Sprouts
By Kathy Hester, The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot.
Recipe attributes: gluten-free, soy-free, no added oil
Kathy's Recipe introduction:  This recipe will turn your sprout haters into sprout devourers!  I used a variation of this to get Cheryl to try sprouts for the first time.  The sweet and smokey flavor really make these Brussels sprouts addictive.
Time: <5 minute prep, 2 minutes High Pressure, Quick Release, 2-5 minute saute
Servings: 4 side dish servings (1 nutritarian serving, cus we like our veggies!)

Ingredients:
    Pressure Cooker Ingredients:
        2 cups small baby Brussels Sprouts, as close to the same size as possible
        1/4 cup water
        1/2 tsp liquid smoke
    Saute Ingredients:
        1/4 cup chopped pecans
        2 Tbsp maple syrup
        Salt, to taste

Instructions:
1.)  For the pressure cooker, add the Brussels sprouts, water, and liquid smoke to your Instant Pot and mix well.  Put the lid on and close the pressure valve.  Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes.  (Note: If you have very large Brussels sprouts, you may need to double the cooking time.)
2.)  Once the cooking time is up, carefully move the pressure release valve to release the pressure manually.
3.)  For the saute, switch to the saute function and add the pecans and maple syrup and reduce the liquid as you finish cooking the sprouts.  Remove from the heat once tender and add salt to taste.

Per Serving: Calories 96.4, protein 2.2 g, total fat 5.5 g, carbohydrates 11.7 g, sodium 11.9 mg, fiber 2.4 g

Notes:
Brussels sprouts vary greatly in size.  Do your best to pick ones close in size or cut the largest ones in half.  You can use frozen sprouts in this recipe, just up the cooking time by a minute or two depending on their size.


Convinced you need this cookbook in your life?  Find it here on Amazon for purchase.



Health and Happiness,

Amy


1.24.2017

Meet Baby Ben

I can't believe how quickly time has gone by!  I briefly popped on here over the summer to let you guys know I was pregnant and how things were going at 25 weeks.  I turned away for a minute and now I have a three-month-old!

My birth story is for another day and another time.  It didn't go as planned at all, but in the end we ended up with a beautiful healthy baby boy.  Here are a few pictures of my little potato.

 

 

 

 

 

Health and Happiness,

Amy