4.29.2014

New Resources/Recommended Tab

Hi everyone!  I don't have too much time this week for blogging, but I thought I would stop in and show you a new feature on my blog.  I have added a Resources/Recommended Tab to my blog.  On this page I have included some links to professional doctors and researchers who support a whole foods plant-based diet.  I have also added some links to Like-Minded Bloggers who I follow and inspire me.

Below the links, I have also included four different categories of Amazon product recommendations that include Appliances I Use, Kitchen Gadgets I Like, what is On My Bookshelf, and my personal Wishlist.  This will just give you an idea of what I have to work and reference from as I create my recipes on the blog.  If you happen to like one of the items and you purchase it from my link, I will get a small profit from Amazon for advertising.

I really don't earn hardly any money from blogging, but when I earn money off of Amazon, I use it towards giveaways back to my readers.  I haven't had a giveaway in a LONG time, so including Amazon advertisements on my blog is one way that I can try to make giveaways and freebies happen more often.

I hope everyone has a great rest of their week.

Health and Happiness,

4.22.2014

Mojito Green Smoothie

Happy Earth Day to all!  I thought I would share with you guys a little info-graphic that I made to send out at my work.  It is fairly general and doesn't include as much information about diet and the health of the environment as I would normally put in.

Some of you who have read my "about me" section may know that my college major was Environmental Science, so I am very passionate about doing what we can to preserve the world that we have.  When I started following the Nutritarian lifestyle, I did it for weight loss and my health.  As time has passed, I have come to find that one of the best ways that you can care for the planet as well as your own health is by eating a whole foods, plant-based vegan diet that focuses on organic and local produce.  

I have had the whole foods part down for a while, but now I am starting to focus more on where my food comes from and how it was grown.  I buy organic when possible (available and financially reasonable), and have been striving to get more of my food from closer sources.  I really can't wait for summertime when there is a farmer's market only 3 miles from my apartment, to which I plan to bike to and from.  When I'm the one biking, and I get all of my energy from food that was grown in the sun, you can't get more solar powered than that!

I haven't featured a smoothie recipe in a while, so I thought Earth Day seemed like a great day to have a green smoothie that is full of nutrients and delicious!

Mojito Green Smoothie
Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1-2 servings

Ingredients:
        2 packed cups/large handfuls of organic spinach, washed
        1/2 cup plant-based milk
        1/2 cup ice cubes
        1 frozen banana
        2 dates, pitted
        Juice from 1 lime, or about 1.5 Tbsp
        2 Tbsp fresh mint

Instructions:
1.)  Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender.
2.)  Blend on high until smooth and creamy.
3.)  Enjoy immediately.

Amy's Notes:
This recipe packs quite a bunch of spinach, with the green taste masked deliciously with the lime and mint combo.  Who needs a mojito with liquor when you can have greens?!

What are you planning to do this next year do decrease your environmental impacts?

4.21.2014

Full Circle 3

Here was my Full Circle basket for the week... a few of the items went into Amy's Favorite Lentil Soup recipe featured last week.

In my basket was romaine lettuce, broccolini, grapefruits, yams, celery, carrots, and mushrooms.

Sorry, no recipe today... maybe tomorrow ;).

4.20.2014

Vegan Carrot Cake Cookies

I love carrot cake.  I did as a kid, and as an adult before becoming nutritarian.  Around Easter when you see images of fluffy white bunnies and colorful eggs, all I can think about is CARROT CAKE!  My nutritarian baking skills have not developed enough to be able to recreate a cake, but I can sure make my own cookie recipe.  Why not recreate that carrot-cake flavor in a cookie?  Enjoy, and Happy Easter!  He is Risen!

Vegan Carrot Cake Cookies
Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 18 cookies
Ingredients:
    Processed Batter:
        1 cup old fashioned oats
        1/4 cup pitted dates
        1/4 cup almond butter (or about 1/2 cup almonds)
        1 ripe banana, peeled and cut into several pieces
        1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract
        1/2 tsp cinnamon
        1/2 tsp nutmeg
        1/4 tsp ground ginger
    Shredded:
        2 carrots, washed, peeled, and shredded
    Mix-ins:
        1 cup old fashioned oats
        2 Tbsp raisins
        2 Tbsp raw seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, or hemp will do)

Instructions:
1.)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2.)  In a food processor, process the batter ingredients until smooth.


3.)  Fit the food processor with the shredding blade and shred the carrots.

4.)  In a medium sized bowl, empty the batter and shredded carrots into it.

5.)  Add the mix-ins and stir well to combine.

6.)  Scoop a golfball size amount of the cookie dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Press each cookie down lightly to form a small puck.

7.)  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies slightly brown and are no longer gooey.
8.)  Serve warm and store leftovers in an airtight container.

Amy's Notes:
I love that this recipe has none of the bad stuff that a traditional carrot cake has: sugar, white flour, eggs, oil.  That's not to say eat a whole batch to yourself.  Think of this as a nutritarian treat to have on special occasions, like Easter.

For the mix-in seeds, I used raw pumpkin seeds, but sunflower or hemp seeds would work just as well.  I just happen to have an allergy to sunflower seeds.. bummer, I know!

Happy Easter!

4.19.2014

Amy's Favorite Lentil Soup

I know for some of the U.S., that nasty winter weather is still holding on.  In Eastern Washington we have been experiencing  the usual sporadic spring weather we are used to, but in light of the rainy conditions the last few days, I thought a nice warming soup was in order.

If you talk to just about any plant-based vegetarian, they all have their own spin on lentil soup.  My mom's lentil soup comes with just about every veggie under the sun, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, depending on what she has in her fridge at the time.  My version is a little bit more simple, but o'boy is it good!

What makes lentil soups such a popular go-to?  First off, lentils are easy-peasy to cook up in a soup from dried lentils.  Most types of dried lentils cook within 30 minutes, compared to dried beans that take soaking and cooking for a few hours (unless you have a pressure cooker, that is).  Lentils also have a great texture and go along very well with all sorts of veggies.  Lentil soups are also welcoming to all sorts of spice, herb, and flavor combinations.  I have tried a lentil soup that even added in some fresh lemon juice at the end, and it was an interesting and delicious kick!

For my household, lentil soup is always a favorite.  Even my husband, who is a die-hard meat and potatoes man, comes home at the end of the day wanting some of "whatever smells so good in our kitchen."  Over time, I have found that I can sneak in more veggies for Kevin if I chop them very small into a soup, but feel free to make your lentil soup as chunky as you want!

Amy's Favorite Lentil Soup
Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
    Vegetables: approximately 4 cups total
        2 cloves garlic, pressed
        1/4 large yellow onion, finely chopped
        3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
        2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
        4-6 mushrooms, roughly chopped
    Lentils: 1+1/2 cups total, rinsed and drained
        1/2 cup dry brown lentils
        1/2 cup dry french green lentils
        1/2 cup dry red lentils
    Liquid and Spices:
        4 cups water
        2 cups vegetable stock
        1/2 Tbsp no-salt seasoning
        1 tsp cumin spice
        1 bay leaf
        pepper to taste

Instructions:
1.)  Chop all vegetables as desired.  You can add or subtract any vegetables depending on your personal tastes or what you happen to have on hand, but make sure it adds up to 4 cups of chopped veggies.
2.)  Over medium heat in a large soup pot or dutch oven, dry sauté the garlic and chopped vegetables until tender and the onion in partially translucent, stirring frequently.
3.)  Add the lentils, liquids, and spices to the pot, stirring to combine.  Bring to a simmer, then turn to medium low heat and cover, simmering for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked.
4.)  Remove the bay leaf, season with pepper, and serve steaming hot.

Amy's Notes:
Feel free to make this lentil soup to your tastes.  If you hate celery, but love broccoli, switch them out.  Or, if you have some Brussels sprouts that you are needing to use up, chop those up and throw them in!

Similarly with the lentils, if you don't have red lentils and just want to use brown lentils, feel free to mix up the lentil ratios!  Just make sure to add 1.5 cups of dried lentils total.

If you would like even more veggies in your soup, add some greens at the end of cooking.  If you would like to do this, then at the end of simmering, add in some washed and chopped dark greens.  Stir over the heat until the greens are wilted and serve.  I added some spinach to mine today, but and dark green such as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, beet greens, etc. would work just fine.

This recipe is great to make ahead of time and reheat throughout the week.  Sometimes I make a double batch and freeze half of it for meals to defrost in the future.  Like many soups, this one tastes even better the next day!
What do you put in your version of lentil soup?

4.18.2014

Whole Grain Waffles for Easter Sunday

Today I am excited to share with you a recipe from my mom.  I have mentioned several times before that my parents also follow a Nutritarian lifestyle, so I am lucky enough to be able to go home and have it be a safe haven of eating!

Since becoming a Nutritarian in the summer of 2011, my mom has found a handful of recipes that are her regular go-to meals, including teriyaki chickpea and pineapple rice, Thai veggie pizza, black bean and veggie fajitas, lentil soup, black bean burgers, and Kitty's Asian Slaw.  Recently she has added a waffle recipe that she created, into her rotation.  I couldn't think of anything more delicious and filling to have for Easter brunch than her Whole Grain Waffles topped with peanut butter and organic maple syrup, with some orange slices on the side.

Whole Grain Waffles for Easter Sunday

Time: 20 minutes
Servings:  2-4

Ingredients:
        1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flaxseed meal & 2.5 Tbsp water)
        1 Tbsp molasses
        1 ripe banana
        6 dates (or about 1/4 cup)
        1/2 Tbsp baking powder
        1 cup plant-based milk (more to thin)
        1 cup whole wheat flour
        1/4 cup ground old fashioned oats
Instructions:
  1. Preheat waffle iron while you prepare the batter.
  2. Stir together the flaxseed meal and water, and set aside.
  3. In a high speed blender, blend the plant milk, molasses, banana, and dates until smooth and creamy.
  4. Mix your dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.  Mix in blended banana mixture and flaxseed.
  5. Stir well to combine, adding more plant milk to thin to the correct consistency.
  6. Coat your waffle iron with non-stick spray and pour the batter in.  Cook until as crispy as you like it.
  7.  Serve with fresh fruit, nut butter, or your favorite syrup.
Kitty's Notes:
As you are cooking a batch of this, the batter tends to thicken up, so thin with more almond milk if it becomes too thick.  We like to have our waffles with natural peanut butter and organic maple syrup.  It would also be delicious to have some blended fresh berries or mashed banana on top if you are trying to watch your added sugar intake.  We have never tried making this recipe as a pancake, but the batter should be able to cook in a similar way.   If you try this, please let us know how it went in the comment section!

4.17.2014

Chickpea Marinara Sauce

Last night was the first night in a while that we had no plans other than to stay in for a home cooked meal.  I have mentioned many times before that my husband is still a meat and potatoes guy, so that means for a homecooked meal, I need to make two... yay?  He requested one of his all-time favorite meals: mashed potatoes with chicken strips and broccoli.  I though potatoes sounded pretty good too, but I opted to have a baked yam instead.  To top my yam off, I decided to make this yummy marinara sauce that is partially homemade.

To cook the sweet potato, heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Wash your potato of choice (russet, golden, or sweet potatoes will work perfectly too), and peirce some holes with a fork throughout.  Wrap each potato in foil (no oil needed!) and place in the oven.  Set the timer for 30 minutes and flip.  Check on the potato after 30 more minutes if it is done.  Mine usually take 1 hour, but time will depend on your oven and the size of your potato.

Chickpea Marinara Sauce
Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2-4
Ingredients:
        1/4 onion, finely chopped
        2 cloves garlic, pressed
        1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
        1- 16 oz can marinara pasta sauce of your choice
        1- 16 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added if you can find it
        1+1/2 cup cooked chickpeas, or 1- 16 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
        1 Tbsp no salt seasoning
Instructions:
  1. In a large skillet over medium heat, water saute the onion and garlic.  Once the onion and garlic become fragrant and slightly translucent, add the chopped mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
  3. Serve over a baked potato or whole wheat pasta.  You can top with fresh parsley, green onion, nutritional yeast, black olives, or any other toppings you desire.
Amy's Notes:
This sauce turned out nicely thick to top a baked potato perfectly.  You could also top any type of whole wheat pasta or whole grain.  I bet this would be great on top of barley.  The nice thing about this sauce is that it ends up with that homemade feel, without having to make a tomato sauce from scratch.  Since it has one can of (no salt) diced tomatoes to one can of marinara sauce, it is going to have a lot less sodium than just a jar of pasta sauce.




4.16.2014

Full Circle 2 and Update

I apologize for being a bit absent lately.  Now that the weather is better and the sun is shining for more hours in the day (Yay!), my weekends and evenings after work have been taken up by more social outings, rather than our usual staying in and reading/watching movies.

This weekend Kevin and I went to a local bike-swap and were able to pick up some inexpensive used bikes.  Mine is a girly mountain bike with a basket on the front that we got for $45, and Kevin's is a much more manly mountain bike that came in at $50.  Since we have moved to a larger place closer to our local biking trail, we thought it was high time we started riding regularly.
My pink bike in the front and Kevin's bike in back.  Our backdrop is an old school map that Kevin picked up from a school that was closing.  Educational and decorative, no? ;)

While out getting bikes, we stopped in at Big 5 so I could pick up some new workout shoes.  My last pair (embarrassingly) are over 5 years old... so it was definitely time for a new pair.  I found these bright lovelies on sale for $39.99, and they comfortably fit my weird wide feet.
On Sunday, while Kevin was at work, I spent a few hours on our deck soaking up the sun and reading my spare-time book: The Vegetarian's Bible, by Inga-Britta Sundqvist
The view from our deck.

Earlier last week I also picked up my second Full Circle organic produce basket.  This time it came with romaine lettuce, cucumbers, kale mix, spinach, lemons, oranges, swiss chard, and golden potatoes.  I think my favorite item of this bunch was either the golden potatoes or kale mix.  For the golden potatoes, I made a potato skillet with swiss chard for breakfast over the weekend, much like this recipe.  With the kale and some spinach I made one of my favorite salads: Chef AJ's Hail to the Kale Salad with her reduced fat dressing recipe.

I hope everyone has a great rest of their week!

4.01.2014

Mexican Pinto Bean Soup with Carrot Top and Cilantro Chimichurri

I was so excited to pick up my very first Full Circle basket earlier this week!  I decided to start adding a lot more organic foods into my repertoire, and the most affordable and time efficient way of making that happen (before the summer farmer's markets come) was to join Full Circle.  They are 100% organic and strive to provide as much local produce as possible.

Full Circle has its roots in CSAs, but in a way that is accessible and affordable for more people.  As of now they are available in California, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, and Western and Eastern Washington.  They have 4 different sizes/prices of boxes depending on your family size or vegetable/fruit intake.  What I like best about it is that I can see what will be delivered a week in advance and change any of the items to another item from a list of 20 or more.  You can also add some grocery items to your cart from their big list of items, from fruits and veggies, to nuts, grains, and even flowers!

I will let you guys know my opinion of them as time goes on.  This was my box this week:


This week I got apples, carrots, snap peas, tangerines, braising cut greens mix, and cilantro.  I added on extras of kale raab, red chard, and yellow onions.
Overall, I'm pretty happy with the quantity and quality of the produce.  The only thing that left something to be desired was the kale raab (very center with yellow tab).  I haven't tried it yet, but the bunch was significantly smaller than I was expecting, but braising cut greens mix and red chard made up for it.  I'm also super excited to try out the sugar snap peas sometime this week!

Obviously, with all of this fresh organic produce, I just HAD to make something new!  I used some of the carrots, an onion, and the cilantro and carrot top greens in the recipe below.  Hope you enjoy!

Mexican Pinto Bean Soup
Time: 15 minutes prep, 40 minutes cooking
Servings: 10-12
Ingredients:
        4 cups filtered water
        4 cups vegetable broth
        3 cups pinto beans (homemade or 2-16 oz cans rinsed and drained)
        2-16 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained (I used petit diced tomatoes)
        1 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 cups)
        4 medium carrots, peeled if not organic, and chopped
        3 medium celery stalks, chopped
        1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
        1/4 cup chopped green chiles, fresh or canned (optional)
        2 Tbsp tomato paste
        1 Tbsp your favorite no-salt seasoning
        1 Tbsp chili powder
        1 tsp cumin
        1 tsp ground coriander
        1 tsp paprika
        1/2 tsp onion powder
        1/2 tsp garlic powder
        1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

(Optional creamier soup variation, as pictured)
        1/2 cup cashews
        1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Note that I used tomato paste, pinto beans, and green chiles that I had frozen.  That's why they look a little funny in my ingredients picture above. ;)
Instructions:
  1. Prep all ingredients and add them to a large stovetop pot (except creamier soup ingredients).
  2. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Allow to simmer, uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork and the other vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  4. (Optional Creamier Soup Step) Once the soup is done cooking, scoop a cup or two of the soup into a high powered blender along with the cashews and nutritional yeast.  Blend on high until smooth and creamy.  Add back to the soup and stir to combine.
  5. Serve hot and topped off with Carrot Top and Cilantro Chimichurri.


Amy's Notes:
When I heated this up to serve the next day.  I added a little bit of leftover quinoa to the mixture and it went over very well with my tried and true taste testers (a.k.a Mom and Dad :)), not to mention, quinoa added a bit more protein to the soup.
If you don't have the ingredients to make the chimichurri below to add to the soup, fresh chopped cilantro will give you a similar taste.

Carrot Top and Cilantro Chimichurri
Time: 10 minutes
Servings: use as a condiment
Ingredients: 
  • large bunch carrot tops, stems removed
  • bunch cilantro, roughly chopped with the stems removed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (lemon or rice vinegar would work too)
Instructions: 
Combine all ingredients into a food processor.  Process until well combined, but chunky like a pesto.  Serve as a dip, as a spread, in a burrito, or any way that you might use a condiment.  I decided to top my soup off with it.  Mixed in, it complemented the soup perfectly!

Amy's Notes:
Who knew that carrot top greens could be so flavorful?!  I think pre-ETL, I probably just would have tossed them thinking that they were inedible.  So happy I found a good use for them for when I get carrots again in my Full Circle box. :)

Here is a picture of the chimichurry mixed into the soup.... Not nearly as pretty, but boy does it taste delicious!