Vegan Red Beans and Rice

While Kevin and I were on our (year and a half later) honeymoon last month, our cruise left out of Galveston, Texas, and we were determined to try some Cajun food before we headed back home.  We planned on staying two extra days after our cruise made it back to Texas so that we could check out the Houston Zoo and NASA Space Center.

The evening after the zoo, we explored a small pier area near our hotel close to NASA, called Kemah Boardwalk.  The little rides and shops were wonderfully picturesque, but unfortunately, it started to downpour with a huge thunder storm passing through.  In the distance about a half a mile from the boardwalk, we could see a place called the Swamp Shack.  With no taxis in sight, we decided to hike it through the storm to get our taste of Cajun food.

By the time we arrived at the restaurant, we were soaking!  We rewarded our daring hike through the storm with a pitcher of beer and ordered some delicious food.  Kevin got a giant platter of crawdads, while I ordered a big bowl of red beans and rice.  These beans were not Nutritarian-friendly and contained meat, but after a long trip, I was happy to have some beans in my system, and boy they were delicious!

Once we got home, I knew I would be able to recreate the Red Beans and Rice in a vegan version.  After doing some research on red beans and rice, I came up with my own recipe.  WOW!  This will be a new regular recipe for our household for sure!

Vegan Cajun Red Beans and Rice
Prep time: 12 hours, or 1 hour quick-soak
Cook time: 2.5 hours
Servings: 6-8
        1 lb dried red beans, soaked over night or using the quick-soak method (see directions below)
        1 medium sweet/yellow onion, finely chopped
        1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
        3 celery stalks, finely chopped
        4 cloves garlic, minced (approximately 1 Tbsp)
        4 cups vegetable broth
        2 cups water
        1 Tbsp chili powder
        1 tsp smoked paprika (or add regular paprika and a drop or two of liquid smoke)
        1 tsp thyme
        1/2 tsp oregano
        1/2 tsp parsley
        2 bay leaves
        1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
        Fresh ground black pepper to taste

        Cooked brown rice or whole grain of your choosing
        Sliced green onions to top
        Favorite hot sauce to top

    Bean Pre-Soak:
        1.)  In a colander, rinse the dried beans and pick out any sticks, stones, or wrinkled beans.
        2.)  Place the sorted beans into a large pot and add water until the beans are covered by two or three inches of water.  Allow to soak overnight, or do the quick-soak.
        3.)  If you are choosing to quick-soak, bring the pot of beans and water to a boil.  Allow to boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and cover.  Allow to sit for 1 hour.
        4.)  After pre-soaking with either technique, drain the beans and rinse with cool, clean water.

    Red Beans and Rice:
        1.)  In the empty pot that the beans were soaking it, water saute over medium-high heat the finely chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic for several minutes, until fragrant and tender.  Add small amounts of water to prevent the veggies from sticking to the pot.
        2.)  Add in the spices, vegetable broth, water, and beans.
        3.)  Bring to a boil on high heat, then turn to low, COVER, and simmer for 2 hours.  Make sure to maintain a good simmer, increasing the heat as needed.
        4.)  After cooking for 2 hours, the beans should be very tender.  Cook for 30 minute increments at a time and test if they are not.  When tender, use an immersion blender or a hand-potato masher to mash some of the beans.  Do not puree the whole pot, you want most beans to remain intact.
        5.)  After lightly blending or mashing, allow the pot to simmer for 30 more minutes with the lid off, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent the bottom from burning.
        6.)  Serve hot with a hefty serving of the beans in a bowl and top with a few scoops of rice, green onion, and your favorite hot sauce.

Amy's Notes:
The traditional southern dish of red beans and rice, obviously, comes with rice, but feel free to use whatever whole grain you want.  I would suggest trying brown rice, wild rice, barley, farrow, or quinoa!

Feel free to make this dish as mild or as spicy as you want it by adding more cayenne pepper while cooking, or hot sauce when serving.

This recipe could work perfectly for a dinner party with vegans and non-vegans alike.  It would be really easy to cook up some andouille sausage on the side for meat eaters, like my husband, to add in to their liking.  some excellent side dishes could be corn on the cob, baked potatoes, and corn bread.  Yum!


Brownie Batter Dip

You know those days... (ladies, I'm talkin' to you) when something chocolate-y is just needed?  Yep, I had one of those days the other day.  Rather than stopping on my way home from work to get some chocolate ice cream, candy, or other sugary monstrosity that I know I shouldn't be eating, I decided to make this brownie batter dip.

I whipped this up and had it with a banana and some cherries on the side.  Instead of regretting every bite of a dessert, like I usually do, I savored the flavors and knew that I was getting way more fiber and nutrients than I would with a store-bought brownie or cake.

This brownie batter is oil and sugar free, vegan, and gluten-free!

***Please note that this recipe is still rather high in calories and fat, but can be a healthier option for a chocolate dessert than SAD (standard American diet) ice cream, cake, or brownies.  If you are doing the ETL initial 6-weeks, I would recommend that you avoid desserts that have this much dried fruit.***

Brownie Batter Dip
Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
        1 can cannellini beans (1.5 cups), drained and rinsed
        3/4 - 1 cup lite coconut milk (see note below)
        1/2 cup dates
        1/4 cup nut butter (almond, peanut, or cashew butter would work best)
        1/4 cup cocoa powder
        1 tsp vanilla extract
1.)  Place all ingredients and 3/4 cup of plant milk in a food processor.  Process until smooth and creamy, adding more plant milk as needed.
2.)  Serve at room temperature with apple slices and other fruit to dip.
3.)  Store in an airtight container in the fridge until you lick the bowl clean... you know you will ;)
Amy's Notes:
  • I happened to have half of a can of lite coconut milk leftover to use up, but this recipe can be made with any other type of plant milk by adding 2 additional tablespoons of nut butter.
  • In my recipe, I used almond butter, which blended nicely in texture and taste.  Peanut butter would also work great for those who are looking for that Reeces flavor ;).
  • For those of you looking for a similar taste, but with less sugar from dried fruit, I would suggest adding in a ripe banana for half of the dates called for.


Favorite Pins this Week

Gotta love Pinterest!  It is great for getting and sharing ideas as well as killing time when you are procrastinating, of course!  For those of you on Pinterest, you can find and follow me on Pinterest here:

I thought I would share with you guys some of my favorite pins as of late...

Thai-Style Loaded Baked Sweet Potato Recipe // Dula Notes
This idea for a Thai Baked Potato Bar came from Dula Notes.
It's my turn to host lady's night on Thursday ,and how easy would it be to
bake some potatoes, cook up some peanut sauce, chop the toppings,
and have a potato bar set up?  I could also set out my Coconut Curry Hummus leftovers!

Lace cornstarch window treatment07
How perfectly lovely is this DIY lace window pane treatment?
This one is from Annabel Vita, and only requires corn starch, water, and lace.
It can be a temporary treatment that will wash off with warm water.

ella by hannah fettig / quince  co piper
I'm dying to make a cardi with some of the yarn I got over the holidays,
but was worried I wouldn't be able to wear what I make until autumn.
 I think this little bolero from Quince & Co. would work perfect for summertime.
I love the simple texture and classic pattern!

Homemade Foundation Powder | Live Simply
I finally aquired all of the ingredients I needed from Vitacost.com
to make my own homemade foundation powder.  I followed the recipe from
Live Simply, and used Tea Tree oil as my essential oil.
I think I need to add a bit more cinnamon to my mix, but it has been
working perfectly to keep my face matte, and it smells great!

How AHH-MAZE-ING does this look?!
I love all of the Indian recipes from Vegan Richa like this cauliflower keema.

Coconut Curry Hummus

I bring hummus to everything.  Dinner at a friend's house, hummus.  BBQ or picnic, hummus.  Pot-luck at work, hummus.  I have my usual hummus that a bring, which is a traditional hummus topped with spices and pine nuts (find it here).  And I also have a few other hummuses (hummi?) in my arsenal:

Spicy Buffalo Wing Hummus
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Lentil and Cashew Hummus
Green Split Pea Hummus
Chive Hummus

A friend of mine, who happens to work at Total Wine (essentially Costco for beer, wine, and liqour) invited me over for apps and beer tomorrow evening.  So what am I bringing?  Hummus of course!  For this hummus, I didn't want to take the time to soak and cook chickpeas, so I chose to use yellow split peas, which cook up in under an hour.  I was also out of tahini, so in go the raw cashews!  Add some spices and voila!  Curry hummus!

Coconut Curry Hummus
Time: 40 minutes prep, 5 minutes blending
Servings: party-size servings
        1 cup dried yellow split peas (about 3 cups cooked)
        3/4 cup lite coconut milk (from the can)
        1/2 cup raw cashews
        1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
        3 Tbsp curry powder
        1 tsp coriander
        1 tsp smoked paprika
        1/2+ tsp cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
        1/2 tsp ground ginger
        1/4 tsp onion powder
        1/4 tsp garlic powder
1.)  To cook the dried yellow split peas, rinse and sort the peas.  Put the peas in a pot with three cups of water and heat to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed or has evaporated.  Stir occasionally over the last 10 minutes to ensure the peas don't stick to the pan and burn.  Allow to cool.
2.)  In a food processor, add all ingredients along with the cooled split peas.  Process until smooth and creamy, adding additional coconut milk and cayenne pepper to reach the desired texture and spiciness.
3.)  Top with sprinkled paprika and serve as a veggie and chip dip.  It can also be used as a sandwich or wrap spread.
Amy's Notes:
After finishing this recipe, I used the hummus to make collard green veggie wraps.  With a little bit of siracha added, it was delicious!
This recipe makes quite a bit, so feel free to halve the recipe if you don't go through hummus so quickly.
If you don't happen to have yellow split peas, any other type of bean will do, but it won't have quite that curry-yellow color in the end.


Full Circle 5

Since we have been traveling quite a bit over the last month, I have put my Full Circle box on hold, which is a really nice feature of this service.  I was in desperate need of some produce, so along with my seven items, I ordered three extra.

Clockwise the left:
red chard (Full Circle, Carnation, WA),
red plums (Red Raven Organic, Selma, CA)
red leaf lettuce (bonus item),
collard greens (Full Circle, Carnation, WA),
green cabbage (Riverdog Farm, Guinda, CA),
aprium (Tiny's Organic, East Wenatchee, WA),
Congo Confection Collection (Theo Chocolate Company, Seattle, WA),
donut peaches (Nicholas Family Farms, Orange Grove, CA),
 rainbow carrots (Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, CA),
White Sweet Corn (Double D Farms, Visalia, CA)
So far, I have had a salad with the red leaf lettuce; used the cabbage, collard greens, and rainbow carrots in a microsalad, and just this morning enjoyed a plum, a donut peach, and some aprium fruits.  My big treat this time was the little box of 4 assorted gourmet chocolates.  I'm saving each one of them for a special night, perhaps while enjoying some red wine.

I was happy to find on my way home from work on Wednesday that a farmers market close to my house is now open on Wednesdays for the summer.  I stopped in and picked up some fresh Rainier and Bing cherries for $4 a pound, as well as some sugar snap peas for $3.50 a pound.  This farmer's market is perfectly within biking distance, so I plan to drive home from work, then bike over to the market.  I'll finally get to carry some produce in my bike basket like I have been dreaming about since I got it!

How many farmer's markets are close to you?  Do you find that their prices are reasonable?


Birthday and Berry Pie with Chocolate Crust

Last Thursday happened to be my 24th Birthday... yikes!  Time is going by quickly!  To start off the festivities, we had dinner at my parents' house on Wednesday evening.  My mom made my favorite homemade veggie Thai pizza, and for dessert she made me this pie that I had sent her a link to months ago.  Thank goodness she saved it because this has got to be one of the best Nutritarian desserts I have ever EVER tried!

This recipe comes from the very talented healthy dessert creator, Talia Fuhrman.  Talia is Dr. Joel Fuhrman's daughter who has made a name for herself by blogging about health and beauty through nutrition and self love and respect.  She is truly a great resource and inspiration for the lady Nutritarians out there!  Find her blog here: http://taliafuhrman.com/

Her blog is full of delicious recipes, but she specializes in Nutritarian desserts like the one my mom made me for my birthday below.  Find her pie recipe here: http://taliafuhrman.com/berry-beautiful-berry-pie-with-chocolate-crust/

My mom tweaked the recipe a bit by using frozen blackberries in the filling rather than frozen strawberries. My husband, Kevin is a HUGE blackberry fan, so he happily accepted a big slice of this dessert. (Could it be that my husband is becoming an accidental Nutritarian?!  Doubtful, but a girl can dream, right? ;))  I don't believe she used chocolate or coffee extract in the recipe either.  It still turned out magnificent!

Berry Beautiful Pie with Chocolate Crust
By Talia Fuhrman
Recipe Source
Seriously, try this one!  My mom said it just took a few minutes to whip up.
My birthday present from Kevin:
a copper mug and all the ingredients
to make a Moscow Mule at home!


Summer Vegetable Corn Chowder

I can't believe it has been so long since I last wrote a post.  Kevin and I went on a trip to Houston and a weeklong cruise that left out of Galveston, we took a quick weekend trip to Montana to meet my new twin nephews, and I just got back from a long weekend trip to Las Vegas with some of my best girlfriends to celebrate one of their bachelorette parties.  I had sooo much fun, although my apartment is in disarray from all of the packing and unpacking.

I also needed to go grocery shopping, badly!  I saw bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, and fresh corn on sale, so I got some inspiration to make this yummy yummy soup.  The smell in my house was such a hit with Kevin, he happily chowed down two bowls and voiced claim over some of the leftovers.  After so much traveling and eating out, nothing can be better than a homemade meal (but no one tell my veggie-snubbing husband just how many are in this recipe!).

Summer Vegetable Corn Chowder
Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 6-8 servings
        4 medium zucchini, ends removed, halved and quartered
        4 medium yellow summer squash, ends removed, halved and quartered
        4 ears of corn, husks removed
        1 red bell pepper, diced
        1 orange bell pepper, diced
        1 yellow bell pepper, diced
        1 Anaheim or serrano pepper, diced
        1 yellow onion, diced
        1 12 oz package of soft silken tofu, undrained or pressed
        2 cups vegetable stock
        1 7 oz can fire roasted diced green chiles, undrained
        1 Tbsp chili powder
        1/2 Tbsp ground coriander
        1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
        2 tsp cumin
        1 tsp smoked paprika
        1/2 tsp cayenne pepper to taste
    Optional Toppings:
        fresh chopped cilantro
        sliced green onion
        fresh diced tomatoes
        hot sauce
        pico de gallo

1.)  Wash the zucchini and squash, cut the ends off, then cut in half and then quarter.  In a large dutch oven, cover the zucchini and squash with water.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20 minutes, until the squash is soft and lightly translucent.
2.)  With a pair of tongs, pull all of the zucchini and squash from the pot and into the blender.  Into the hot water, throw the peeled corn on the cob.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender.  While to corn is cooking, blend the zucchini, squash, and undrained silken tofu until smooth and creamy.
3.)  Once the corn is done boiling, remove and allow to cool.  Empty the water from the pot and begin to saute the red pepper, orange pepper, yellow pepper, Anaheim pepper, and onion over medium heat.  Add water as needed and saute until the onion is translucent.
4.)  Cut the cooked corn off of the cob and add it to the sauteed peppers and onion.  Add all of the spices and stir to combine well.
5.)  Add the blended squash and vegetable stock to the pot and stir to combine well.  Add water as needed to make the soup thinner if you desire.  Enjoy the soup chunky as is, or use an immersion blender like I did to lightly puree the soup.
6.)  Enjoy with one or multiple toppings mentioned above.  I served mine with tomato, cilantro, and green onion, drizzled with hot sauce.

Amy's Notes:
If you don't happen to have silken tofu on hand, some substitutions could be 1 cup of white beans, or 1/2 cup cashews and 1/2 cup water.
When everything is combined in the end, feel free to blend as much or as little of the soup you want.  Like I said above, I used my immersion blender to give it a fine chop.  Please cater to your own soup preferences!