Tofu, Pesto, Tomato Sandwich

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As a vegan, one question I get a lot is “but what do you eat?

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My response: “bomb. ass. sandwiches.”

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It’s true. Today’s was pesto, tomato, tofu and vegan mozzarella on whole grain bread.

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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

brussels

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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Dairy-free, Soy-free, and Sugar-free Pumpkin Spice Latte

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Remember those yoga pants girls I was talking about earlier? This is for them. I took a cult favorite seasonal drink and somehow managed to make it even more yuppie by keeping it dairy, soy and sugar free. How, you ask? Let me introduce you to a friend of mine, her name is Stevia. She’s super sweet, and let me tell ya, all natural.

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There’s nothing artificial about this bag of goods, and she cuts the calorie count of my pumpkin spice latte to under half of what the commercial version comes in at.  A 16 oz pumpkin spice latte from that cafe made with soy milk will run you about 300 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 48 grams of sugar. Mine comes in at 123 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 0 sugar! Need more convincing? This took me about two minutes to make. The longest part was waiting for the water to boil for my french press!

You know there’s a yoga pant-clad yuppie girl in there somewhere waiting to get out and talk about how she can’t get enough of her PSL’s. It’s ok, feed her.  At least with this she’ll probably thank you for not making her fat.

Ingredients

1 C. strongly brewed coffee (I used 1 very heaping Tbsp. for each cup of water)

1 C. 90 calorie almond milk (you can use a lower-cal version, it just won’t be as rich)

2 Tbsp. pumpkin puree

3 Tbsp. stevia

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

pumpkin spice latte

Method

Brew the coffee in whatever method you like, I used a french press.

Mix the stevia and vanilla into the almond milk and microwave for 2 mins.

If you have a milk frother, use it now. Although almond milk does not froth quite as well as cow’s milk, it does get a bit fluffier. If you don’t have one no worries, I didn’t use one either.

(Pro tip: If you’re in the vicinity of an IKEA, pick up one of these. It will change your life.)

Stir in the spices and pumpkin puree (which will dissolve beautifully).

Pour 1 C. of coffee into a mug and top with 1 C. of the almond milk mixture.

Stir and enjoy!

Serving suggestion: with some warm and gooey oatmeal for breakfast; outside if possible.

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Bon appetit.

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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Vegan Chocolate Cake

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Let’s talk about cake, baby.

As a vegan, the number one thing I have difficulty with is dessert. (Most) dark chocolate is thankfully a-ok, but when it comes to grab and go options, pretty much every pre-made dessert on the planet includes dairy. As more of a cook than a baker, this saddens me deeply.

However, necessity is the mother of invention so naturally I took to google and found me a recipe. Posted by aliciak on instructables.com, it might be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. And I like my cake like I like my men – rich, dark, and freakin delicious.

This is the third time I’ve made this cake, and they’ve all turned out fantastic (even the second one, when still drunk from the night before I forgot to add the flour and turned it into a “torte”).

It’s moist, decadent, rich, and she even includes a glaze recipe that knocks it outta the park. Or, you can be like me and skip it all together because like I said, I’m lazy like that.

The best part – we’re vegan, which means we can eat the batter.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar

Method

Put it all in a mixer, and mix. That’s literally how I did it.

Serving suggestion: in your mouth, all at once.

Bon appetit.

Eggplant, Hummus, Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Panini

You should never underestimate the power of the eggplant. Not unlike myself, with a little love and attention this spongy, bitter nightshade transforms into a glorious, succulent, and dare I say, meaty dish. It goes in everything: dips, salads, pasta, casseroles, or my personal favorite, the king of convenience – sandwiches.

Being vegan, vegetarian, or even just hungry isn’t a hardship when you’ve got savory eggplant loaded with hummus, sweet basil, and roasted red peppers. Ready to level-up? Grill it. Press it, smash it, heat it and don’t stop until this baby is a golden, crusty masterpiece that has your tastebuds screaming “get on me.”

This panini is simple, elegant, delicious, and the best part is you don’t even need a fork; just two hands and an appetite for awesome.

Bon appetit.

Eggplant Panini

Ingredients

2 ciabatta rolls

Olive oil

2-3 1/2” eggplant slices

4 fresh basil leaves

2 Tbsp. prepared hummus

1 roasted red pepper, halved

Method

Preheat a large non-stick skillet to medium/medium-high heat.

Brush each side of your eggplant slices with some olive oil using a basting brush or clean hands, and transfer to the hot skillet.

Cook each side of the eggplant about 5 minutes, until they’re golden brown and soft but not mushy.

Meanwhile, slice ciabatta rolls in half and spread 1 Tbsp. of hummus on the top of each.

Next, layer 1 large or 2 small fresh basil leaves, followed by 1/2 of a whole roasted red pepper (mine were from a jar) and cooked eggplant slices.

Top with the other half of the ciabatta roll and either brush each side with more olive oil and return to your hot pan (pressing with another pan weighed with whatever heavy item you have in your kitchen, usually cans) or transfer to panini press.

Cook 3 mins on each side if using the homemade press method, or 4 minutes on a panini press set to medium heat.

Serving suggestion: Hot, with copious amounts of vegetables.

And a side of dog. (Or a dog by your side!)

Tofu Scramble

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Tofu is like the misunderstood hipster kid of the mainstream food world. It’s odd, difficult to figure out how to work with, and most people don’t like it the first time they try it. After two or three meetings however, tofu grows on you, and slowly your world is widened to include all of the magical things this mushy white blob can morph into. And that is why to the vegan world, tofu is the most popular kid in school.

Example a) Tofu Scramble. Seasoned with a variety of spices, sauces, vegetables and condiments, there are as many possibilities here as there are with eggs. This is not to say that they taste exactly the same, actually far from it, but the technique and concepts are so familiar that it’s easy to whip up a delicious meal with minimal effort or thought.

Perfect for beginners, or lazy bums like me. Bon appetit!

Ingredients

2 servings of firm tofu

.5 tsp. cumin

.5 tsp. sage

1.5 tsp. nutritional yeast (I like mine very nutty!)

Dash of red pepper flakes

1 tsp. steak sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Tofu Breakfast Scramble

Method

Cube tofu and mash in a bowl

Add spices, nutritional yeast, steak sauce and salt and pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together

Fry in a hot oiled skillet for about 3 minutes (this recipe will turn golden brown!)

Voila! Consume with whatever you like for breakfast. Serving suggestion: In a warmed whole wheat tortilla with 1/4 of an avocado, vegan mozzarella, hot sauce, fruit on the side, and chopped chives for fun.