Roasted Vegetable Cornmeal Tarts, Two Ways

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What do you get when you have a whole fridge of vegetables that needed to be eaten like, yesterday, and no ambition to use a fork?

A vegan variation of pizza, of course.

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But let’s be honest: it’s difficult to sell people on a pizza with no cheese (although really, who needs it?) that’s why this is a tart. Tarts are fancier; they get the people excited.

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So now it’s not a “hey, I know how to chop vegetables and put a frozen crust in the oven” kind of night, but a “why yes, we’re having roasted vegetable cornmeal tarts in two varieties” kind of night.

Which do you think is more likely to attract that hottie at the health food store and get way more instagram likes?

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That’s what I thought.

Toppings:

-Onions, green peppers, sun dried tomatoes, and olives.

-Oven roasted zucchini, butternut squash, tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic.

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Saute the peppers and onions separately until just tender, everything else can go in the oven at 400 for 10 minutes before loading it all up on your crusts and baking for an additional 12-15 mins. I bought the crusts in the freezer section of whole foods next to the frozen pizzas, but I know my secret’s safe with you. Now go show off.

Bon appetit.

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Smoothie Criminal

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People seem to think it’s a crime to make a good green smoothie without added sugar or dairy. Today, I shall dispel those rumors.

First of all, fruit is sweet (especially if you buy it in season) and it don’t need no sherbets, ice creams or artificial ingredients to be fabulous. Just make sure you have a good ratio of fruit to other ingredients, or choose an all natural sweetener like stevia.

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Second of all, just because you don’t eat dairy doesn’t mean that you need to replace it with soy, almond, flax, coconut or whatever milk or yogurt alternative you happen to have in your fridge. Fresh green smoothies don’t need it! Just add water to loosen things up and get the ingredients to blend better.

Can I get an Amen from all the raw-foodies out there?

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Your smoothie won’t taste watery, I promise. Plus, you’ll get extra hydration, save calories, and find another use for your $10 a gallon animal substitute. It’s a win, win, win.

The real trick is finding the right combination of fruit to really get you going in the morning (or afternoon, or midnight snack, or fourthmeal). This is mine, and it’s so simple it should be illegal (am I even allowed to use the term fourthmeal?).

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Three basic components are all you need for a totally raw, fresh, green smoothie: some kind of leaf, a fresh fruit and a frozen fruit. Above I have baby spinach (the easiest flavor to mask), some fresh mango and a frozen banana.

(Pro tip: never use ice cubes to make your smoothie cold, they’re impossible to blend in most moderately priced blenders. Use small frozen fruit like raspberries or blueberries instead!)

You may choose to add a green powder, but why use additives when you’ve got a rich, sweet blend of whole foods (again, illegal?).

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This is just one of the many kinds of delicious smoothies and shakes that are out there for vegans to enjoy. It’s so easy being green.

Bon appetit.

Roasted Apple and Carrot Salad with No-Carb Deep Dish Veggie Lasagna

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Today’s dinner was good exercise for my cutting board. Embracing the cooler weather, I was craving something hearty, warm and included the fresh local apples my mom recently brought back from the orchard. I was also not particularly picky about how much prep time went into this, because it was basically all chopping. Not that I mind, I find it therapeutic (interestingly, although I’ve been chopping my own vegetables since about first grade [I know!] I’ve only cut myself once, and that was last year). This was a two birds, one stone scenario. What a delicious way to blow off steam.

The resulting dish was a delicious warm roasted carrot and apple salad with dried cherries & cranberries, walnuts, and a horseradish & apple cider dressing.

roast salad

Basically take baby carrots, three apples, and 2 oz each dried cherries and cranberries and toss them in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.

Then mix in 2 Tbsp. horseradish, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, and 4 Tbsp. olive oil.

Next roast in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes.

Finally add in some walnuts (you may toast them separately if you like, I didn’t want them to burn in the oven) sprinkle with garnish of choice, and promptly consume. Or wait until a deep-dish vegetable lasagna is finished getting all hot for ya.

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A cheese-less, noodle-less vegetable lasagna is constructed by layering eggplant, orange bell peppers, tomatoes, pesto and “tofu cream” in a deep pan. After alternating a sufficient number of layers to fill the pan, top it with some vegan mozzarella, bread crumbs, italian seasoning, and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Bake at 450 for 40 mins to achieve the following:

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I livened up the visuals of mine and added another layer of flavor with some fresh basil on top (to make it more italian?).

Altogether, I’m not sure I’ve ever consumed such a wide variety of vegetables in one dinner before. The flavors were so vibrant, fresh, unique and perfect for the season.

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The only way to follow up such a dinner of course, was with some apple crisp lovingly prepared by mom last night. She even specifically looked for a vegan recipe!

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We’re starting to understand each other.

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Bon appetit.

P.S. Tofu cream is made by food-processing some firm tofu with a 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, some salt and pepper, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp. sugar or sweetener and 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast. This is a delicious ricotta alternative, but can also be used as an excellent dip.

Brown Sugar Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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I know, I know. You have deep and complicated issues with brussels sprouts. You get flashbacks of being forced to stay at the dinner table as a child until you had eaten them all, holding your nose at the repugnant cruciferous beasts. Believe me, your not alone. Nobody can blame you, brussels sprouts are often the main obstacle between a child and his dessert, or are used by parents as a threat.

“Timmy, no chocolate cake tonight if I don’t see you eat every vegetable on that plate, young man!”

But this is no way for brussels sprouts to be treated, all they’ve ever done for a body is good. Loaded with fiber, vitamin c, and cancer fighting properties, brussels sprouts deserve a second look.

And with caramelization like that, I’d say they look rather ravishing.

Bon appetit.

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Ingredients

2 lbs of brussels sprouts, cut in half

2 Tbsp. vegan butter, melted

1/3 C. brown sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

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Method

Toss brussels sprouts in the vegan butter and brown sugar to coat evenly.

Spread the sprouts out on a baking sheet, and sprinkle on however much salt and pepper you prefer. I like this recipe to have a little bite of salt, so I add less pepper.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 40-50 minutes, tossing the brussels once halfway through for even browning.

Serving suggestion: with fall pesto bean stew, or a whole grain.

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Fall Pesto Bean Stew

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It doesn’t get better than a weekend free from responsibility, and beautiful weather. Today I got to experience both in one of my favorite places on earth.

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Although technically I’m supposed to wait until the 22nd to celebrate the official start of fall, a crisp 72 degree afternoon at Mount Vernon’s annual Colonial Market and Fair really got me in the zone.

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There were vendors, re-enactors, historical buildings, farm animals, and absolutely beautiful walks to and from the Potomac river. In my opinion, there is no better way to welcome the new season than at the home of the first President of the United States.

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Fall is absolutely spectacular in my corner of the world. There’s a good reason I want to ring it in early! Cool air moves in, the life-sucking humidity moves out, and I can once again tromp around in my beloved knee high boots that have been a gaping hole in my soul for the last four sweltering months. (I’m not the only one who gets excited about the change in season, just ask the couponers buying glittery pumpkins for 20% off at the craft store, or the yoga pants girls foaming at the mouth over pumpkin spice lattes.)

Fall has something for everyone, whether it’s a trip back in time, sparkly gourds or syrupy coffee. But now, I have something for you: Pesto Bean Stew. It’s warm, hearty, rich, and basically the most addictive way I’ve ever experienced beans.

Now go get in the kitchen and make this. George Washington says so.

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Ingredients

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 red onion, diced

1 garlic clove

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried sage

2 C. sliced mushrooms

1/2 C. dry cooking sherry

2 cans of great northern beans

4 Tbsp. vegan basil-walnut pesto

1/2 C. vegetable broth

2 C. baby spinach

fall pesto bean stew

Method

Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.

Add the mushrooms garlic, thyme, and sage, and continue to cook until the mushrooms have given up about half of their water, and have become tender.

Pour in the cooking sherry and bring to a simmer until the liquid has reduced, roughly 4 minutes, until the mixture is a thick consistency.

Spoon in the pesto, and give everything a good stir to make sure it is distributed evenly before adding in the vegetable broth.

Simmer for about 4 minutes and toss in the beans and spinach, reserving roughly 1/4 C. of the spinach.

Stir until the spinach has wilted, about 1 minute.

Right before serving, stir in the remaining 1/4 C. of spinach for a pop of bright green color and texture.

Serving suggestion: alongside some sweet and savory brown sugar roasted brussels sprouts.

Bon appetit.

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