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Sarah Lawrence

Taco Bell Peppers with Spicy NutMeat

[caption id="attachment_568" align="alignleft" width="300"]Taco Bell Peppers with Raw Nut Meat Taco Bell Peppers with Raw Nut Meat[/caption] About 90% of what I eat is raw food. Not only do I find meal prep quick and easy, but tasty too! Try a few bites of my Taco Bell and you’ll see! Walnuts are a meaty nut and while there are a ton of raw taco filling recipes out there, I've come to rely on my concoction that blends walnuts and portobellos with a great texture and satisfying flavor. Taco Bell Peppers with Spicy NutMeat A few crisp Bell Peppers, your choice of color Avocado, sliced greens of your choice tomato, sliced or cubed Salsa, fresh or purchased (optional) NutMeat Ingredients: 1 cup walnuts 1 portobello mushroom cap, black gills removed; minced ½-1 tsp chipotle chile powder (adjust to suit your taste) 1 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp olive oil 1 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s Pulse all of the NutMeat ingredients in your food processor until mixture resembles ground meat. It only takes a few pulses. Alternatively, you can put the nuts in a plastic bag and crush them by bashing them with a fairly solid can (I use canned tomato for this) or roll over the bag with your rolling pin. You can also use a chefs knife and mince the nuts and mushroom by hand. Using hand methods will take a bit longer and will yield a slightly uneven texture, but the taste will be the same once you mix all the ingredients together. When I made this using hand skills, I used my mortar and pestle to grind the spices into a small amount of the nuts and then mixed everything. The smaller the mushroom bits, the more the mixture will resemble ground meat --- texture does make a difference, especially when you are introducing a raw food as a substitute for something as familiar as taco meat! Set the nut mixture aside while you clean and prep the peppers. This step involves nothing more than washing your produce, slicing off the green stem portion and cleaning out the seeds with your hands. For portioning the peppers I used, I found that 3 segments worked, but you will need to gauge that with your peppers since some peppers have 4 lobes and some 3. Work with the natural segmentation of your pepper and make slices that will become the vessel for your tacos. Prepare your remaining veggies and then assemble by laying down some greens in the cavity of the pepper shells. I go greens, salsa, avocado, tomato, nut meat… repeat, plate and eat! If you want an easy variation that is not raw, consider adding some cooked black beans on top of the nut meat. Equally tasty and a nice transition into a high raw meal.

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Sarah Lawrence

Seasonal Salad Dressings

If you're anything like me you won't be able to pass up the incredible bounty of tree ripened fruits that are available at this time of year.  In New England, apples and peaches are plentiful.  Weekend apple picking means a week full of applicious eating.  I've been dicing my red beauties and adding them to salads, oatmeal, smoothies, muffins... and salad dressing.  Flavoring with whole foods is an adventure because moisture content/juiciness varies as well as sweetness/tartness.  So, I can guarantee that your dressing won't taste just like mine... but it will taste great and recipes like this one give you license to play with your food!  You need to taste and adjust and experiment.  The dressings I'm sharing today showcase the beauty of whole food dressings.  You'll get nutrients and healthy fats from the nuts and avocado, so additional oils aren't necessary -- the dressing will come together in a beautifully emulsified and creamy way. Dress salad greens and veggies or change it up and dress a cabbage slaw mixed with apples and serve over naked greens.  Top with a sprinkling of pecans or walnuts and a tsp of chia seeds per serving for that boost of calcium.  [caption id="attachment_484" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Harvest Salad with Apple Dijon Dressing"]Apple Dijon Dressing[/caption] Apple Dijon Dressing (yield 1+ cup, depending on size of your apple) 1 macintosh apple or other tart apple ¼ cup apple cider vinegar 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard ½ cup avocado 2 cloves garlic 1 Tbsp ginger, fresh 4 brazil nuts, optional 1 medool date, optional Combine all ingredients in Vitamix, other blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.   If your apple is quite tart and you need to balance the dressing, adjust the flavor by adding a date and blending again.  The brazil nuts add a hint of creaminess and a ton of selenium, but don’t really effect the flavor.  Use them if you have them for that nutrient boost.   Spicy Peach Dressing [caption id="attachment_485" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Apple Celery Cabbage and Carrot Slaw with Spicy Peach Dressing over romaine"][/caption] (yield 1+ cup, depending on size of your peach) 1 ripe peach, cut in half, pit removed ¼ cup apple cider vinegar ½ cup raw cashews 2 cloves garlic 2 Tbsp ginger, fresh 1 tsp Bragg’s Amino’s sriarcha, to taste, optional Combine all ingredients in Vitamix, other blender or food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.  Add ¼ cup of water, if necessary, to loosen the consistency of the dressing.  Everything depends on the juiciness of the peach, so if the dressing is too thick just add that water and blend again.  Spice up the dressing with sriarcha… I reserve a portion of dressing to toss with greens for my boys and then liven up the remaining dressing by starting with 1 tsp of sriarcha.  If you’re not feeding kids or if you prefer things spicier, start with 1 tsp and taste, then adjust if you want more heat.

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creativecalligraphy

A Duo of Quick and Tasty Salad

Salad and greens are the mainstay of my daily diet.  What's phenomenal about greens are their versatility.  The variety of flavors that you can grow in a window box or sprouter is equally impressive.  So, while some might think "boring" when they think salad, I think of the possibilities and the freedom! I made this for lunch today and used about ¼ of the beautiful green papaya that I bought at Lanni Market.  To feed more than one person just double or triple the recipe.  It’s quick, easy and full of flavor!  I love Som Tum, the Thai Green papaya Salad and while it’s not difficult to make according to traditional recipes which include fresh chilies, palm sugar and fish sauce, I love my speedy vegan version that uses local ingredients from my pantry.  Jicama can be substituted for the green papaya if you can’t get your hands on one.  And if you really want to keep it local, try using a produce item from your area that is crisp and mild.  I’ve used local apples and slightly under-ripe green melon with nice results.   The kelp granules give that hint of the sea flavor that fish sauce imparts in traditional Som Tum recipes.  Not critical, but it is nice and adds a sprinkle of nutrients and iodine as well. [caption id="attachment_457" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Quick Green Papaya Salad"]Quick Green Papaya Salad[/caption] Quick Green Papaya Salad 1 cup green papaya, thinly sliced (as thin as you can make it!) 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced 1 medium sized tomato, about ¾ cup sliced 1 small knob ginger, grated, about 1 tsp grated ginger 1 tsp maple syrup 1 tsp braggs aminos ½ tsp kelp granules (optional) ¼ - ½ tsp chipotle chili powder Put all ingredients into a bowl and use your fingers to combine everything well.  Eat! *************************** Our dinner salad was an experiment in balance.  The garlic ginger dressing was sweet and spicy.  The romaine was sweet and crisp; blueberries, tart; tomatoes, creamy; cucumber, crunchy and green; plums, lusciously sweet and creamy.  Next time, I would add a bitter green to the bowl... a handful of arugula or watercress would be perfect!   Ginger Garlic Dressing (yields 1 + cup of dressing) 2 cloves garlic 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root, grated 1/4 cup sesame oil 1/3 cup rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar 1/3 cup mirin 1/4 cup Bragg’s aminos or soy sauce 2 Tbsp rice syrup (or 1 Tbsp honey if you prefer) 1/4 cup water, optional Mash the garlic using your mortar and pestle or mince very finely.  Combine with remaining ingredients and thin with water if you like.  [caption id="attachment_458" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Balanced Salad"]Balanced Salad[/caption] Balanced Salad (makes 4 entree servings, 2 adult and 2 kid portions) 2 romaine hearts, chopped 1 cup kale, stemmed and chopped (about 4 leaves) handful of arugula, watercress or dandelion greens 1 cup blueberries 2-3 local tomatoes, quartered 1 local cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and sliced 4 local black plums, quartered Make sure your hands are washed before you start prepping your salad, because you're going to use them! Cut the greens into bite sized pieces to make them more appealing and easier for kids to eat.  Toss all ingredients into a large bowl.  Ladle 1/3- 1/2 cup of dressing over the salad and mix thoroughly with your hands.  Rubbing the dressing into the greens will coat them beautifully.  Pay particular attention to the kale bits... rubbing them tenderizes them a little... it's magical!

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creativecalligraphy

Easy Coconut Curry

My health coach, Tammi, gave me a challenge for this month... and I am not one to forego a challenge, so, this month I am experimenting with Macrobiotics.  Being introduced to macrobiotics this month has been really timely.  Traditionally a balancing and restorative way of approaching food and life, this philosophy has been a gift to me as I've been working to get my 5 year old through a particularly intense bout of croup and the respiratory ickies that follow.  The ease of cooking a huge pot of brown rice and using it as the base for our meals is making up for the lack of my beloved nightshade veggies.  I have a handful of recipes to post from the week, but this one was on our table last night.  I think it's macrobiotic... even if it's not 100% in keeping with the tradition, it was inspired by it and was tasty.   Easy Coconut Curry 1 knob of fresh ginger (about 2 tablespoons) 3 cloves garlic 1 onion, quartered 1 stalk fresh lemongrass (optional – see my note below) 14 oz can of coconut milk* 1 cup water 2 tbsp curry powder (use your favorite, we like Frontier Herbs) 3 cups cooked garbanzo beans 2 cups cauliflower, broken into small pieces 1 russet potato, peeled and cubed (about 2 cups cups) Put ginger, garlic, onion, lemongrass and coconut milk into your food processor or Vitamix blender.  Process until smooth.  (Note: I thought I processed my mixture well enough, but found strings of lemongrass in the finished curry.  They were not problematic, but it looked abit strange and might make people worry that they’re eating a piece of, gulp, hair.  So, my suggestion is to really blitz the mixture and then strain it if you aren’t sure that the lemongrass is incorporated.  Alternatively, chunk the lemon grass into large pieces and you can infuse the coconut milk with it in the next step and then fish the pieces out before serving.) Pour the spiced coconut milk into a large sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Add the water, beans and vegetables and cook until the potato is soft, about 15 minutes. Serve with brown rice or quinoa and a nice salad. [caption id="attachment_451" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Easy Coconut Curry"]Easy Coconut Curry[/caption] *Homemade Coconut Milk is easy and is my preference, but not everyone has coconut in the pantry.   If you do, try this! 1 cup coconut flakes 2 cups  water Put everything in your Vitamix and blend on high speed for 3 minutes until the mixture is creamy.  Strain through cheesecloth or a nutmilk bag if you are drinking the coconut milk.  For this recipe, just use the coconut milk right from the blender! This video from tropical traditions will show you how to do it, though they use slightly different proportions than I do and they strain twice.  I love Tropical Traditions organic coconut flakes and they are the only brand I use!

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creativecalligraphy

Quinoa Burgers with Greens and Chilled Curried Peach Soup

 I am so excited to share this meal with you!  My boys absolutely gobbled the burgers and each had several "sippers" of Curried Peach Soup.  The burger makes use of three of my weekly staples: quinoa, homemade hummus and kale; and the gorgeous organic peaches we picked up at the market this week really shine while boosting up Vitamin A, C and Potassium.  

Quinoa Burgers with Greens and Chilled Curried Peach Soup
Quinoa Burgers with Greens and Chilled Curried Peach Soup

Quinoa is such a superb seed!  Not only is it incredibly easy to prepare, versatile and yummy but it’s a powerhouse of protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium & vitamin E.  Here, quinoa shares center stage with the amazing chickpea, aka garbanzo.  The chickpea takes on a big role as a binder, but is so mild and creamy that the other flavors come through.  

I love that only one pot and one skillet are involved on the messy side of things (if you need to make the hummus, you’ll have the food processor to contend with as well).  But, this one take relatively little effort to get great results.  To make this guy your own, try changing the spices.  You can use another green in place of the kale or try combinations of herbs instead (parsley and cilantro, thyme and oregano, dill).  Finishing the patties with rice flour gives a light crust and makes for a pretty golden brown burger. Use your hands to mix things and you will soon get the feel for the right texture so you will be able to adapt to the ingredients you choose.  My hummus recipe is a stiff hummus, actually much more stiff than commercial varieties, so if you are using a store bought hummus you may need to add in the garbanzo flour or rice flour to aid in binding and reduce the moisture level. Quinoa Burgers (Makes 6 burgers) 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups water 1 Tbsp organic onion powder 2 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled 1 cup homemade hummus (recipe below) 1/4 cup minced kale (about 2 leaves) 1 teaspoon Frontier All Purpose Seasoning or your favorite herb blend 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 2 Tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos 1-2 Tablespoons garbanzo bean flour or rice flour (as needed) Fresh ground black pepper Brown rice flour 1 Tbsp Olive oil Preheat a skillet to medium high heat and pour in the quinoa.  Lightly toast the seeds for a minute or two until they start to smell nutty but are NOT burnt.  Add in the 2 cups of water, onion powder and unpeeled garlic.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.  Remove from the heat and fish out the garlic. Put your softened garlic onto a plate or cutting board and, with the edge of a knife, lightly press on the garlic to squish it out of the peel.  Add this back into the quinoa mixture. Add the hummus, kale, herbs, smoked paprika, Braggs and several grinds of pepper into the quinoa pot and mix well.  I like to use my hands for mixing because I get a good feel for the stickiness of the dough and can tell if things are binding together or if I am going to need to adjust with the bean/rice flour and/or water.  So, once the ingredients are incorporated take about ½ cup of the mixture and make a ball.  If you can shape it into a burger type patty without anything crumbling off or wilting over, then you have the right consistency.  If you can’t, and your mixture is too wet, sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of garbanzo flour over the mixture and stir it in.  If your mixture is too dry, try adding a teaspoon of water at a time and mixing.  We are looking to make a mixture that it neither too wet nor too dry.  We want moist. Continue adjusting until you get a patty that holds well on its own. [caption id="attachment_445" align="alignright" width="300" caption="ready for mixing"]ready for mixing[/caption] Divide the mixture into 6 equal bits and form into balls which you will then shape into ¼ inch thick patties. [caption id="attachment_444" align="alignright" width="300" caption="shaping and dredging"]shaping and dredging[/caption] Get your cast iron skillet hot over a high flame and coat it with the olive oil. Turn the heat to medium.  Lightly dredge the patties with some brown rice flour that you’ve put in a shallow bowl or plate.  Get your burgers into the skillet and cook for 5 minutes on each side or until you get some browning. Serve on your favorite bun or GF bread or set up a pretty plate with greens and fresh tomato and avocado.  I think a grainy mustard is a wonderful condiment for this burger, but you’ll find your favorite.   Homemade Hummus 3 cups cooked chickpeas ¼ cup tahini 3 cloves garlic juice of one organic lemon dash of salt and pepper 1 tsp ground cumin ½ tsp ground chipotle pepper (optional) Put all ingredients in your blender.  Pulse to combine and then blend until a smooth texture is achieved.  If needed, stream in a tablespoon or two of veg broth or olive oil to thin the mixture (this step is really dependent on the moisture level of your chickpeas and tahini, so it will vary). Flavor develops more after a day in the refrigerator, but this is totally great right out of the food processor.  Use half the batch for the quinoa burgers and enjoy the remainder with veggies during the week or as an accompaniment for salad, or thin it out with water or almond milk to make a luscious dressing/dip. ************************************************** My kids LOVE this soup!  It’s a great soup for teaching, actually, because each of the components tastes so different on their own.  Taste the ingredients one by one before putting everything into the blender and then taste the final product.  When combined, the flavor of this golden peachy toned creamy soup is a little sweet, a little spicy.  Chill for an hour or more before serving, but don’t keep it for more than a day as the color will go a funny orange and the peach flavor loses something. Chilled Peach Soup 4 organic peaches ¼ cup coconut flakes 1/2 cup water 1 teaspoon curry powder ½ tsp fresh grated ginger Wash and pit the peaches.  Put everything into the Vitamix and blend on low speed for 10 seconds.  Whiz on maximum speed for 30 seconds or until the coconut is thoroughly blended and the mixture is smooth.  Transfer to a bowl or container and chill for at least an hour before serving. Note: blender or food processor will work but may not yield a smooth texture.  If you don’t have a Vitamix, consider using ½ cup of prepared coconut milk instead of coconut flakes and water.

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creativecalligraphy

Easy Vegetable Sushi Roll (gluten free vegan goodness)

[caption id="attachment_315" align="alignright" width="300" caption="YUM!"]YUM![/caption] Oh how I love sushi!  It's so healthy and is super easy to make at home.  Hope you'll give this one a whirl.  It's worth it! Play with vegetable combinations.  Some of my favorites are avocado, cucumber, carrot, scallion and mung bean sprouts.  Try sweet variations with fruit like mango and kiwi to make a fun roll for kids.  Be creative and enjoy your food! p.s.  For another fun veg roll recipe, click here to check out my fresh Spring Rolls in the "It's All in a Day!" post.  They are fun to make and you can use whatever veg you have on hand. Vegetable Sushi Roll  Basics: Bamboo sushi mat or bamboo placemat or a piece of parchment paper 2 sheets of raw or toasted nori 1 carrot, cut into long, thin strips (julienned) 1 cucumber, seeds removed and julienned to match the carrots Condiments: wasabi paste pickled ginger soy sauce, tamari or Bragg’s amino acids (gluten free if you need it like me!) Rice: 2 cups cooked sushi rice (I used leftover steamed thai rice) 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 1/2 tsp stevia powder 1 tablespoons rice wine Rock and Roll: Combine rice wine vinegar, stevia and rice wine in a small bowl until the stevia dissolves.  Reheat your leftover rice for about 30 seconds in the microwave.  Put the rice into a large bowl.  Pour the vinegar mixture over the rice while you gently stir the rice.  The object is to cool the rice while coating it with the vinegar dressing. Now that the rice is ready, let’s get moving.  This is a quick meal considering we’re using leftover rice. Lay your nori shiny side down on the mat of your choice.  A bamboo mat makes rolling much easier, but if you don’t have one you can use a stiff placemat or even a piece of parchment paper.  I don’t want equipment or lack of it to stop you! Nori, face down; time to spread half of your rice.  Scoop about ¾ cup of rice onto the nori.  Rice should be sticky and glossy but not wet.  Moisten your hands with cool water and use your fingers to spread out the rice into a thin layer.  We are aiming to cover the nori with an even layer of rice.  Starting with wet hands means that the sticky rice won’t stick to our fingers right away. [caption id="attachment_311" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Veg Sushi Step 1"]Veg Sushi Step 1[/caption] Once the rice is laid out we’re going to place our veggies.  So, lay out a row of julienned carrot and cucumber about 2 inches from the bottom of the nori sheet.  We want the veggies to be even from side to side so everything stays together and looks pretty when we cut this into slices. [caption id="attachment_312" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Veg Sushi Step 2"]Veg Sushi Step 2[/caption] Magic time is upon us!  Lift the bottom edge of the sushi mat and begin to roll toward the top edge.  You need to press firmly on the roll to keep it tight.  Continue rolling to the top edge and press the mat at the top to seal the roll.  Repeat the procedure with the second sheet of nori.   Using a serrated knife, slice each roll into 6 or 8 pieces and serve with a dab of wasabi, braggs or gluten free tamari and a heap of pickled ginger. [caption id="attachment_313" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Veg Sushi step 3, rolled and ready to slice"]Veg Sushi step 3[/caption] Want to check out another version of my veg sushi roll on Food.com?  I’ve been making this stuff for a while now and it just couldn’t be easier!  Click here: http://www.food.com/recipe/tofu-maki-vegetarian-sushi-41104#ixzz1GWvr2Up2 [caption id="attachment_314" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Vegetable Sushi Platter"]Vegetable Sushi Platter[/caption]

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creativecalligraphy

Smoky Black Bean Soup (gluten free vegan)

From me to you on an icy NH day.  This soup can be made in your crockpot too if you don't want to mind the stove.  Soak your beans overnight or using the quick method (or cheat and use 3-4 big cans(I'm guessing) of black beans, drained and rinsed) and then put everything into the old faithful to simmer away all day.  You will be richly rewarded no matter which way you do it.  Top with diced raw tomato, pepper, avocado, tomatillo, scallions cilantro and salsa.  If you want to indulge, add a spoonful of tofutti sour cream and a sprinkle of daiya shredded cheddar! The smoky flavor comes from the cumin and smoked paprika.  If you want to go all out with the smoky rich flavor you can char your onions on a grill before adding them to the pot.  I find that the spices and the chipotle in adobo do the trick, but you can take it as far as you'd like! A tip or two:
  • To stretch this soup you can also make a pot of rice and serve a ladle of soup with a bowl of rice and the chopped veggies of your choice. 
  • Leftovers can be frozen in small amounts and added to a pot of minestrone or tomato soup to make a savory base.
 
 
[caption id="attachment_303" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Smoky Black Bean Soup"]Smoky Black Bean Soup[/caption]   Smoky Black Bean Soup 3 cups dry black beans (about 1 lb), soaked overnight 1 Tbsp olive oil 6 celery stalks 6 carrots 6 cloves garlic 2 large onions 10 cups water + 6 Tbsp broth powder or use your favorite broth in place of the water/powder 1 piece of dried kombu (optional) 2 Tbsp ground cumin 2 Tbsp smoked paprika 1 chipotle with 1 tsp adobo sauce or 2 tsp chipotle powder (more or less to suit your taste) Salt and Pepper to taste Pick over your dry beans and pull out any debris or pesky pebbles. Place the beans in a big soup pot, cover with a few inches of water and soak them overnight. If you’re short on time, bring your bean pot to a boil for 10 minutes then shut it off and let the beans soak for an hour at least before continuing.  Drain the soaked beans and discard the soaking water. While your beans are in the colander draining let’s work on the base of the soup. Working in batches using your food processor or your big kitchen knife, get the celery, carrots, garlic and onion to a mince.  I do each veg separately because my food processor is on the small side.  Plus, for whatever reason, I like sautéing my onions before the rest of the veg, so it makes sense in my mind to keep the veggies separate at this point. Heat your oil in the soup pot over medium heat.  Saute the onion until it is softened and golden. Stir in the spices along with the chipotle and adobo and let them go for a few minutes with the onions until everything is smelling amazing!  Add in the other minced veg, stir and cook for another minute.  We are looking to build that incredible glaze on the bottom of the pan really; that caramelized layer adds a lot of flavor and we want it to work for us!  The veg will cook along with the beans, so don’t worry about them.  Just stir them so nothing burns. Add the soaked beans, kombu, water and broth powder.  Kombu is a variety of seaweed which improves the digestibility of beans.  You can remove it when the beans are cooked or incorporate it into the soup.  Increase the heat and bring everything to a boil for 15 minutes.  Reduce the heat so we’re just at a slow simmer, cover the pot and leave it for about 90 minutes.  We aren’t cooking the beans to a soft oblivion today, we’re aiming for a bit of bite.  Pull out the kombu if you can find it, otherwise it will be blended into the soup yielding a little nutrition and a pinch of salty flavor (1 piece of kombu in this size pot will barely be noticeable if you puree it in). At this point, turn off the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes.  We will be pureeing the mixture to yield a smooth bean soup.  If you’d rather not, then stop here, taste and adjust your seasoning before serving.  In my house, we like this soup mostly smooth with some whole black beans and then toppings of diced raw tomato, scallions, avocado, salsa, etc.  So once the soup has cooled a bit I reserve about 2 cups of cooked black beans in a bowl and then I ladle the rest in batches into the Vitamix blender and puree it.    This requires one big bowl on the side of the blender to hold the puree while I work through the non-pureed soup from the pot.  Then I put the pureed soup back into the pot, toss in the reserved beans and stir.  If the soup is too thick for your tastes go ahead and thin it with water or broth until you get a consistency you like.  If I need to heat it to serving temp, now’s the time.  Otherwise it is ready to be put in the fridge or freezer for a later meal.  The great part about this soup is that unlike dairy based soups this freezes really well and doesn’t break.  The flavor improves on day 2 and 3.  I tend to go mild on the chipotle favoring the addition of salsa or chiles by each soup eater.  It’s easier for me and my husband to make our bowls spicier rather than asking our kids to take the heat!

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Sloppy Joes

[caption id="attachment_283" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Lentil Sloppy Joe with Vegan Cheese and Steamed Broccoli"]Lentil Sloppy Joe[/caption] I have fond memories of the sweet and tangy sloppy joe sauce that my dad made.  It was the stuff of finger licking legend.  Though I don't make my sloppy joes with ground meat, I love the hearty bite that the lentils give and the earthy balance of the portobello mushrooms.  Not to brag, but I think my sloppy joe sauce is good enough to earn a place in my children's culinary memory and in your recipe file.  Only time will tell!  But if clean plates and requests for seconds are any indication, I think I'm on the right track! The real key to incredible flavor for this meal is the smoked paprika... click on it in the ingredients list and you can order it from Penzey's if you don't have it in your cabinet. Enjoy! Lentil Sloppy Joes This multi step process is worth the effort.  You’ll be spending about an hour in the kitchen to get this done, but the batch is HUGE and makes plenty of leftovers that you can package up and bump into the freezer for a meal next week and the week after! Using you food processor or mad knife skills, mince the following: 1 large onion, minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 4 carrots, minced 4 celery stalks, minced 10 oz Portobello mushrooms, minced Add the minced veggies to a large stockpot in which you’ve warmed a tsp of olive oil.  Stir the veg while they brown and soften, about 10 minutes.  They will become super fragrant. Add: 2 cups lentils * 6-8 cups water *(I usually use brown or green lentils, but you can use red lentils too.  Reduce your liquid by a cup if you use red lentils.  They cook faster, so watch your time too!) Stir the pot and simmer for 40 minutes until the lentils are till tender and the liquid is absorbed.  (If your liquid is not absorbed after 40 minutes try the quinoa/millet add in noted in the next step.)  Stir in: 1 cup uncooked millet or quinoa (optional, adds nutritional value & helps if your lentils are liquidy!) 7 oz jar organic tomato paste 1 cup tomato sauce 1 cup ketchup (or a 2nd cup of tomato sauce) 1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder 1 Tbsp oregano 3 Tbsp smoked paprika (This is the key to fabulous flavor!!!) 1 Tbsp cumin 1 Tbsp cinnamon 2 Tbsp prepared mustard (I used a grainy mustard that has a nice vinegar kick) 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar Sweeten: 4 medool dates, pitted OR 1 Tbsp brown sugar (I prefer my sugars to be from whole foods, but if you don’t have dates then brown sugar will do) If you've added the quinoa or millet your pot will need about 10 -15 minutes more to simmer while those seeds absorb their liquids.  If you're not using the seeds just proceed.  Remove 1 cup and blend it in the food processor with the 4 pitted dates until smooth.  Add back into the pot and stir to combine. Serve your sloppy lentil ragout on a roll of your choice or just on a plate with a side of steamed broccoli and some fresh greens. [caption id="attachment_284" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Lentil Sloppy Joes without the bun are an easy Gluten Free Vegan meal!"]Lentil Sloppy Joes without the bun[/caption] Leftovers are even better.  You can also take half of your leftovers and season them with more chipotle chile and some diced tomato to make a good taco filling.  Top with fresh guac, crisp lettuce and sliced peppers and you’re on your way to another easy meal. ***Check out Lentil Sloppy Joes v2 by clicking here!

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Chai Spice Blend

I get on flavor kicks, in case you haven't noticed.  Indian spices and chai are particularly appealing to me in the winter.  I have a love affair with heat, truth be told, and I'll do just about anything to avoid being cold.  I'm not at all ashamed to tell you that I warm up my pjs with my hairdryer, believe the best gift I've ever received (besides my children) is my amazing heating blanket and I use those nifty handwarming pouches all the time.  Now you know.  The warming spices in my Chai Blend are not only tasty, but they are also comforting and helpful to those like me who enjoy warmth. The Chai Spice Blend I've shared with you before is something I pretty much have on hand all the time.  I will toss a teaspoon into a banana bread recipe just as quickly as I'll use it to punch up the flavor of carrot soup.  It makes a quick curry sauce with an added pinch of turmeric, a dash of saracha and a smash of garlic.  There's so much that this blend can do to make your day more interesting!  I figured since I use it so much that I should tell you a bit more.  May my experiences with Chai be fodder for your culinary experiments! Chai Spice Blend (Makes about ½ cup) 2 Tbsp of each of the following spices, ground:  Ginger, Cardamom, Cinnamon 2 tsp of each of the following, ground: Cloves, Nutmeg, Allspice, Black pepper and Vanilla Powder Mix the ingredients until combined.  Store in a tin or a spice jar.    Okay, an example for you: The last of the mango trio I bought was sitting on my counter this morning starting to look a bit sad.  It was now or never for this guy, so he hit the cutting board.  Mango aren't native to NH, of course, but it's hard for me to resist their musky orange flesh.  I buy local as much as possible, but in cases like this with mango I choose to use what's available.  The fruit is already on my grocer's shelf and needs someone to use it... so that person is sometimes me.  I know this perpetuates the problem because if I didn't buy it they might not order it, etc, etc.  I know.  But when a girl needs a mango, a girl needs a mango.  Maybe when I'm older I'll plant myself somewhere tropical and surround myself with coconuts and mangoes and I will sing every day, grow my hair wildly long again and be blissfully warm ever after.  Until then, I will buy my mangoes and not apologize for my action. Right, so the mango peeled and cubed sat in my breakfast bowl.  He was ready to go and so was I, but there's this bowl of chai spice on my counter and I'm not afraid to use it.  The kids had already stirred a bit into their yogurt and I could smell the ginger... it was a natural progression! Spiced Mango 1 ripe mango, peeled, cut off the pit and cubed 1 tsp chai spice, more or less to your liking [caption id="attachment_256" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Spiced Mango"]Spiced Mango[/caption]   How else can you use the Chai Spice Blend?  Here are some ideas to get you started:
  1. Buy a small carton of soy or coconut creamer and tip in a few Tablespoons of the spice blend.  Put the cap back on and shake.  Leave this in your fridge overnight, at least, so the spices permeate the creamer.  You can do this with any milk or milk alternative.  The longer you let the spices hang out in the liquid the more intense the flavor. Use the Chai creamer with your next cup of black tea for a spicy kick.  If you don't like gritty tea just pour your cuppa through a strainer before drinking. 
  2. Add a teaspoon or more to your favorite banana bread batter.
  3. Slice some bananas and toss with chai spice.  Give them a quick warm up in a saute pan with a little knob of Earth Balance or coconut oil, then drizzle with agave or maple syrup and enjoy warm, creamy, spiced banana. --- A splash of rum and fresh coconut curls make this dish into a real party for the over 21 crowd!
  4. Chai spiced hot cocoa is exceptional.  Add a teaspoon of the spice into your favorite mix or homeblend.  I think the dark vegan chocolate and cacao options are a stunning match for chai spices.  The combination makes me think of Mexican moles (mol-eh's, not the little critters that burrow in the ground!)
  5. Sprinkle Chai spices over yogurt and fruit for a warming morning treat.
  6. Add chai spice into a batch of garlicky lentils.  Toss in a pinch of turmeric and a hit of saracha. 
  7. Warm a bit of coconut oil and toss some raw cashews to get them coated.  Then sprinkle the nuts with 1-2 tsp of chai spices and shuffle them around so they're well dressed.  Let them dry on a baking sheet and then snack on them!
  8. Pulse equal amounts of dates and nuts in your food processor.  Add Chai Spice to suit your taste.  Roll into small balls, coat with shredded dried coconut and enjoy as a snack.
Post a comment and let me know how you're using Chai Spices... I can't wait to hear what you come up with! Share

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Spicy Raw Tomato Sauce, Act 3

Have I mentioned how much I like a good leftover?  I'm not joking.  Today I am looking at the 3rd and final act for the batch of Spicy Raw Tomato Sauce that I made the other day.  I'm thinking of using it as a soup base, though the idea of adding a bit of this workhorse into some white bean puree for a spicy white bean dip is weighing on my mind. Since we have a snow storm on the way I am declaring the soup idea the winner!  Having a pot of soup on hand is a good thing when snow is a-comin!  In the event that we need to get all frontier minded and hunker down, I know that I can reheat soup in the cast iron pot on the wood stove (and I swear it will taste 10 times better coming out of that pot than anything else!)
 
Here we go:
Act 3 Soup
(makes about 8 big bowls of soup)Act 3 soup, thick with rice and lentil
2.5 cups Raw Spicy Tomato Sauce 12 cups water 2 cups brown rice (not cooked) 1/2 cup brown lentils (not cooked) 2 tsp ground cumin 3 Tbsp broth powder    1 tsp sea salt 1 tsp black pepper 1 Tbsp tomato paste Add all ingredients into at least a 4 quart stockpot (you want to have enough room to stir without sloshing!)  Simmer over medium heat for one hour or until the rice and lentils are cooked.  Easy peasy! The rice takes on a golden tint from the turmeric in the tomato sauce.  There is still a hint of ginger while the rest of the spices and the onion make just a nice savory vegetable soup base.  Add in's could be anything from carrots and celery to more tomato or leftover beans.  Think minestrone, think vegetable soup.  If you have meat eaters, you could add in leftover chicken for a lightly spiced chicken vegetable soup.  Adjust the seasonings to suit your taste, try a bit more broth powder or salt and pepper.  Top each bowl with minced cilantro or a swirl of coconut milk if you want to get fancy. The beauty of cooking this way is that we waste very little.  I like to call  cooking it by the seat of your pants.  In the same way that aviators are said to "fly by the seat of their pants" aka without a flight plan, instruments, radio, etc., so can we cook!  We can be culinary renegades, working without the guidance of a cookbook, leaving Food TV behind!  I cook this way all the time, and, only occasionally do I have something crash and burn. It just so happens that I had something bite the dust last night.  I love rice paper wrappers and have tried to use them in a few different ways... so far, the only successful way I've found is to rehydrate them and use them as fresh wrappers for raw spring rolls.  I sure want them to be able to do more though... yes, I do!  So, the little experiment that I did last night involved rice paper wrappers and steam.  I now know that those two things don't mix, but it took a solid try to figure out because nobody tells you these things... well, I'm telling you now, but no one told me! Anyway, the sad story is that I made a handful of these fresh rolls in a sort of dumpling style and purse style and in the traditional roll.  I prepped my steamer basket and had my shallow water at a low boil.  The perfect steam environment was within my grasp!  A little oil on the steamer to prevent sticking (so I thought) and away I went.  The lid shut on the steming pan, I began to smell the little goodies.  My children even commented how nice things were smelling in the kitchen.  We were all getting a bit excited and, truth be told, you could have caught any one of us wiping a little drool from the corner of our mouths as we salivated like hungry wolves near the fragrant pan.  A few minutes passed and I removed the lid.... and along with it came a few of the rolls because the rice paper stuck like glue to the lid... and I thought I could rescue the few that were still laying there in tact... so I got the tongs and went right in there with confidence... until I found the plump shiny parcels completely and totally glued to the steamer basket.  It was a steamer basket casket and it was a sad sad sight.  I share this with you because it's important to validate that trying and experimenting is worthwhile even when you fail.  Without the failures we can't find our way to the successes.  For me, the key is not taking anything too seriously in the kitchen.  

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