Vegan Chili

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I feel like I’m a few weeks late with this post because it would have been a perfect recipe to make for the Superbowl. It’s a hearty soup filled with all kinds of goodness for the vegan and non-vegan alike. And like other legume soups, it gets thicker as it sits, so it makes a delicious left-over dip. I’ve made this a few times over the past couple of weeks, and each time I make it, I increase the quantity because it’s just so darn versatile. It hits the spot as a soup fresh off the stove, but then the following day or two, it’s equally (if not more) scrumptious as a dip or a topping to ladle over potatoes, like these rosemary roasted potatoes, these garlic smashed potatoes, or these garlic potato wedges.

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The nice thing about this recipe is that you can improvise if you don’t have all the ingredients handy. You want to have some sort of tomato base, beans, a little spice, and some seasoning! Ah, the wonders of wintery soups.

Ingredients (makes 9 cups/72 oz):

  • 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (I used yellow), chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp (small pinch) cayenne pepper
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 5 medium sized garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes (juices included)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • optional toppings: avocado, dairy-free cheese, scallions, tortilla chips

Steps:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot on medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and a pinch of the salt and sauté for about 3-5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  2. While those aromatics are sautéing, combine the spices in a bowl (chili powder, curry powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and cayenne). I like preparing them before hand for a couple of reasons. 1 – Sometimes it takes longer than you think to measure each spice and before you know it the onions are burning, and 2 – When you put the spice container over the cooking food, the steam tends to find its way into the bottle making your powders clump together.
  3. Add the spices, roasted red pepper, and garlic. Sauté for an additional minute. Add your rinsed beans, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, and bay leaves. Once the liquid is hot/has come to a light boil, lower the heat to simmer and allow the soup to thicken slightly.
  4. Use an immersion blender (hand-held blender) to puree most of the soup to give it that chunky yet smooth texture. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a potato masher or simply add about 2/3 of the soup to a blender.
  5. Additional tips to make your cooking a bit easier: have your vegetables chopped beforehand (onion, carrots, celery, garlic, roasted red pepper); open and rinse your beans; have your can of diced tomatoes as well as your broth opened already; and previously mentioned, have your spices measured out in a small bowl. These things will ensure that the only thing sweating in your kitchen are your onions! (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

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Twice Baked Garlic Crusted Smashed Potatoes

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Oh, these are fun. They’re super easy to make and can be the perfect side to a hearty meal or a perfect little scooper to pair with a dip or spread. I’ve made these to go with wintery soups, guacamole, veggie proteins like tempeh, and each versatile meal shared one commonality – these potatoes were the best part!

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Ingredients (makes 24 baby potatoes):

  • 24 baby creamer potatoes (or yukon gold potatoes cut into quarters if you must substitute)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup garlic powder
  • salt to taste
  • optional: green herb for garnish (scallion, parsley, cilantro, etc.)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the oil and garlic powder and mix well.
  3. Line up the potatoes on a baking sheet and lightly brush the mixture onto each potato. If you do not have a basting brush, simply use your hands to coat. *Note, use less than half of the mixture because you’ll want to generously coat the potatoes during the second bake.
  4. Bake potatoes for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and use a drinking glass that has a flat bottom (or similar object) and smash each potato until flat like in the picture. Once all are flattened, brush the remaining oil/garlic mixture generously onto each potato. Sprinkle each one with salt. Place back in the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Garnish and enjoy with your favorite dip, soup, or entree!

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Stuffed Peppers

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My mom had given me the idea to create a stuffed pepper recipe. Last Tuesday she was over helping me with the baby as I cooked falafels for my weekly meal pick-up and she said I should do a stuffed pepper for next week’s meals. Only thing was I never actually made a stuffed pepper before. So together we bounced ingredient ideas off each other and with the help of some delicious spices, these heavenly rainbow clouds of goodness came to be.

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Oliver, who is now eight months old, isn’t a fan of many foods just yet. He still enjoys mama’s milk way too much. However, he couldn’t get enough of this rice and quinoa concoction. He who doesn’t enjoy mashed up banana, or steamed carrots, or warm home-made apple sauce, yet enjoys super garlicky hummus, guacamole, and this somewhat spicy mixture. The boy’s got a sophisticated palette! (But more on him in a future post.)

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Ingredients (makes about 8 peppers):

  • 8 peppers of various colors
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 6 cups liquid (water or broth)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley, plus a pinch for garnish
  • topping – garlic aioli (optional)
  • topping – avocado (optional)

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Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. On medium high heat, add about 2 tbsp of oil to a pot. Sauté the onion for about three minutes, adding a pinch of salt if you prefer. Then add the tomato paste. Sauté for an additional two minutes.
  3. Add the marinara sauce, rice, quinoa, garlic powder, curry, salt, chili powder, liquid and bay leaves. Stir everything together, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. *Note, the rice I used was a light brown rice, so it only took 20 minutes to cook. If you’re using a rice that takes longer to cook, you should omit the quinoa, use 3 cups of rice, and cook for the specific time your rice requires.
  4. Prepare your peppers by rinsing, cutting off and preserving the tops (see picture), and removing the seeds and pith (the white flesh inside). Coat each one with the remaining tbsp of oil using a brush or your fingers. Fit peppers into a casserole dish and set aside until the rice/quinoa is cooked.
  5. Spoon the cooked rice/quinoa mixture generously into each pepper, replacing the tops of each pepper. Cover in foil and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove foil and cook under the broil for about 3-5 minutes, keeping an eye on them and rotating if necessary.
  6. Top with parsley, aioli, and avocado! Enjoy ❤

 

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Banana Nut Muffins

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It’s the last day of 2016 and what a crazy year it has been. There have been some highs and lows; the highs would have to include the birth of our baby boy and buying our first home together, and the lows have been learning experiences which have only strengthened me and my family. I used to always say this next year Is going to be the best yet! However, now I am taking it day by day, with the confidence of knowing that life will have many more highs and lows. It’s all about the attitude one chooses to have towards them. On our refrigerator we have a short piece titled ATTITUDE, and it states: The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people say or do. It is more than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a house of religion…a home. The remarkable thing is you have a choice every day regarding the attitude you will embrace for the day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable…The only thing we can do is play on the one thing we have and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…because YOU are in charge of your attitude. 

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of oats
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 extra ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • Oil for greasing

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Blend the oats until a powder is formed.
  3. Pour into a bowl along with the baking soda, baking powder, chia seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Mix.
  4. In another larger bowl, add the peeled bananas, maple syrup, molasses, and vanilla extract. Mix.
  5. Combine the ingredients by slowly adding the dry ingredients to the banana mixture. Stir well and add half (1 cups) of the walnuts.
  6. Grease a muffin/cupcake pan. Pour the mixture to the top of each muffin holder. Top with the remaining walnuts. Makes 12 muffins. Enjoy!

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Falafels & (Dairy Free) Tzatziki Sauce

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Mmm vegan fried food. There’s a reason why the falafel, a traditionally vegan food, is loved by vegans and non-vegans alike, and I think it is in large part because they are fried in oil! Sure they can be made in healthier ways, but really nothing beats that crunchy outside and warm, soft inside.15356718_10154829943564106_4623634500470431022_n

There’s a spot in the city that Justin and I pass whenever we are driving upstate. They make great falafels, but what I love just as much as the actual falafels are the sauces and crunchy vegetables that come wrapped up in that pillowy, warm pita. When I made these for my sister, mother, and Justin last week, they were super delicious, but I thought they needed more saucy condiments. They were plopped onto a dollop of hummus, but what we all concluded was that a nice tzatziki sauce would really take the dish up a notch. I don’t have any photos of the tzatziki sauce up close because it was really good and Justin ate it all! But the cool, refreshing sauce pared perfectly with the warm, salty, and crunchy falafels.

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Like stated earlier, I’ve never made these before, and other than chickpeas, I really didn’t know what went into them. So after reading a lot of different recipes, I tried out this one  and it was so good I needed to share it. If you have another recipe or not-so-secret ingredient that you would like to share, please fill me in! As for the tzatziki sauce, which is generally made with yogurt, I created a healthier, more scrumptious recipe using cashews as a substitute.

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Tzatziki Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium sized garlic cloves
  • 1/4 tsp white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Steps:

  1. Soak the cashews in water for at least 3-4 hours. Make sure there is at least 2 inches of water above the cashews.
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender. You will need to press the mixture down and continue blending for optimal consistency.

 

Coconut Curried Cauliflower with Cashews and Chickpeas

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This dish is quite easy to make and takes about 20 minutes total. I had put it on the menu for last week’s lunches. (For those of you who don’t know, I make lunches for people to order – which have now become more like dinners – to local people in my town every Tuesday night and post the menu on my Instagram and Facebook page.) And although I had envisioned exactly how this dish would look and taste, I hadn’t actually made the dish yet, like ever. So the night before I was going to make my weekly meals, I gave it a go in the kitchen and it turned out perfectly. I was pretty surprised that it only needed the few ingredients that it does.

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While we’re on the topic of my weekly meals, I’d like to mention that it’s going pretty well. I changed it up a couple of weeks ago by increasing the price, but also now I’m being able to increase the creativity and versatility in each week’s little cardboard box. So all in all, it’s been a lot of fun. (Side note: I’m currently soaking chickpeas for falafels, another dish that I’ve never created but have always wanted to. If the falafels turn out well, I plan on making them again for next week’s menu!)

Ingredients:

  • Couple of tablespoons of oil for sauteing
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 head of cauliflower (about 4 1/2 cups of florets)
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted cashews

Steps:

  1. On medium high heat, add the oil to the pan. When the oil is hot enough, add the chopped onion and saute for a few minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add the minced garlic and stir. After about 30 seconds, add the coconut milk, ginger, curry powder, salt, and pepper. Stir well. Then add the cauliflower and chickpeas and stir until they are coated.
  3. Lower the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower is soft. Add the cashews, stir, and serve! Best served with rice or potatoes. Garnish with parsley.

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Tempeh Bolognese

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Ah, tempeh meat sauce. This is quickly becoming one of my favorite comfort meals to make. I was supposed to make it with a spaghetti squash, but it was a cold, windy night when this was being tested in the kitchen and I just couldn’t resist good old (whole wheat) pasta. Don’t get me wrong – I’m usually a regular pasta kinda girl, but I gave Justin the option and this is what he chose. It’s been a few days and that poor spaghetti squash is still sitting on my counter.

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Ingredients (makes 5 cups):

  • 2 packages/blocks of tempeh (8 oz each)
  • 3 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 6 average sized garlic cloves, minced (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 chia eggs*
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce (See my recipe for marinara sauce below.)

* To make 2 chia eggs, mix 1/2 cup of water with 2 Tbsp of chia seeds. Stir every few minutes for at least 15 minutes until a gel is formed.

Steps:

  1. Boil a few cups of water. Once boiling, add tempeh and let simmer for 10 minutes (I broke mine up into a few pieces.) This process makes the tempeh softer and easier to work with.
  2. Add the tempeh to a food processor/blender and mix.
  3. Place tempeh in a large bowl and add in all ingredients. Blend well.
  4. On medium high heat, add oil to a skillet/pan. Once hot, add tempeh mixture and use large spoon to flatten mixture across the pan. (See picture below.)
  5. Stir and repeat every 1-2 minutes for about 7-10 minutes, until enough of the mixture is browned.
  6. Add marinara sauce and mix well. Serve over pasta, zoodles, spaghetti squash, etc!

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While I was snapping away, my little sous chef was entertaining himself. So of course I needed to capture his adorableness.
While I was snapping away, my little sous chef was entertaining himself. So of course I needed to capture his adorableness.

Simple Marinara Sauce:

  • 2 cans (28 oz) crushed or whole peeled tomatoes (I use one of each.)
  • 3 Tbsp (roughly) of olive oil
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bulb of garlic, minced (about 3 heaping Tbsp)
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil (1 Tbsp dried to substitute)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (optional)
  • salt to taste

Steps for sauce:

  1. Add oil to a large pot on medium high heat.
  2. Once hot, add onions and sauté for about 3-5 minutes or until translucent.
  3. Add minced garlic and continuously stir for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, bring to a simmer. Use a serving spoon to break up whole tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes).
  6. Serve immediately, or let simmer for up to an hour to thicken.

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