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Sunday, April 15, 2012

My First Kale Salad

Woah, sorry for my laze-induced absence from PLB!  I was on spring break for the last week and a half, so naturally I had BIG plans and an even bigger to-do list (i.e.: spring clean the apt., do portfolio, finish NYC teaching application, clean out the fridge...) Fast forward to today, and I only have a clean fridge.  I guess it's better than nothing, right?  Yesterday, though I came to the realization that things need to change around here.  As fun as it has been drinking fancy beers with J, catching up on Breaking Bad, and stuffing my face with carbs - I'm pretty sure my bod doesn't appreciate it.  I tried on my bridesmaid dress for my cousin's wedding, and it doesn't fit - HOLY CRAP, I haven't had anything not fit in at least 3 years!  So Erica - I'm doing this for you girl because I know you don't want a stuffed sausage in your bridal party ;)
After my heart attack trying the dress on I knew I needed a plan.  Here's how that went:

  1. Start crying
  2. Start feeling bad for myself and convince myself that I'm just one of those people that can't lose weight as a vegan even though I work so hard 
  3. Realize that I have eaten hardcore carbs with every meal (bread, bagels, pasta...) paired with at least 4 beers (and not light ones) every night for the past 10 days 
  4. Remember that I have slacked on cardio
  5. ...Admit that I have a problem - hey that's the first step right??
SO I am majorly upping my veggie intake, limiting wheat ...and banning beer :(  (Don't worry though we bought a large bottle of vodka and some seltzer last night - you didn't think I was going to stop drinking did you?)

My plan is to have carbs with one meal a day - let's see how that goes!  

One problem is that I am so not a salad person, I get super bored with them and need to mix them up all the time.  I decided to make a kale salad today because, well, I'm a fat cow right now - remember?

I was a little scared of kale salads, so if you are too don't worry I can now say they are pretty good!  

Fool around with the ingredients all you want, this my version of a kale salad I found on Oh She Glows with dressing from Veganomicon (amaz cook book!!)

Red Kale Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing
Ingredients - Salad 
  • About 4 cups red kale - chopped, rinsed & dried well
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots 
  • Handful of Gogi berries (can sub craisins)
  • Handful of walnuts - I just broke them up into the salad 
  • 2 TBSP chia seeds 
Ingredients - Dressing
  • 1/4 C white mellow miso
  • 1/4 C tahini
  • 1/4 (or more) warm water 
  • Wash and dry your kale - I chopped it up and threw it in a salad spinner
  • Put kale in a medium sized bowl
  • Chop up cukes and carrots - throw them in the bowl to hang with the kale
  • Make your dressing, so easy: put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk it up, add more water if you want to thin it out - this recipe is way more dressing than you need so you can transfer it to a container now if you want 
  • Pour about 1/4 cup of dressing over the veggies 
  • Massage the dressing in to the kale ;) 
  • Let it all come together in the fridge for about 15 minutes
  • Clean up that big mess you just made 
  • When you're ready to eat sprinkle in the chia seeds & walnuts 
  • Enjoy!!
Peas & Love,

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sweet Potato & Chickpea Burgers

I hope you all had a happy Easter!  I don't know about you, but the day after holidays my body is in need of a serious detox.  Yesterday was filled with delish foods & an abundance of wine, which left me hurting a little today!   A green monster and a few gallons of water later, I'm back!  And just in time to post my recipe for the yummy sweet potato burgers we made for dinner, you're welcome ;)

Sweet Potato & Chickpea Burgers
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 large sweet potato, baked or microwaved & peeled 
  • 2 TBSP tahini
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 C whole wheat flour
  • Any spices you like, I used:
    • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
    • 1 tsp chili powder 
    • 1 tsp garlic powder 
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Bowl full o' panko bread crumbs
  • Bake up or microwave your sweet potato - I microwaved in (after poking some holes in in with a fork) for about 5 minutes, let it cool and peeled the skin off 
  • While you're waiting for your tater, throw the can of drained chickpeas into a food processor and turn it up!  It should be a little chunky 
  • Throw in the sweet potato, tahini, maple syrup and spices - give it a whir!
  • Separate into about 8 patties 

  • Coat both sides of the patties in the panko 
  • Add to a hot pan with about 2 TBSP of safflower (or any oil of your choice)

  • Cook for 4-5 minutes each side until they get nice and crispy

  • Toast up a bun (if you're ever in Whole Foods try the 365 whole wheat buns - trust me!!), top it with avocado and a good whole grain mustard - mmmmmmm!

I put the leftover patties in a freezer bag - not sure how that's going to turn out, guess we'll have to wait and see!!

Peas & Love

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Carmelized Onion & Mushroom Tomato Sauce

I haven't really missed meat at all since I went vegan (cheese, yogurt & eggs are another story... sometimes, but we'll save that for another day)  except in my tomato sauces.  Although I've never been a red meat eater, I always put either turkey chop meat or turkey/chicken sausages in my sauces.  I know that I could always use a fake sausage substitute, but you all know how I now feel about processed foods & fake meat.  I wanted to bulk up my sauce today - and what better way than with portobello mushrooms!?
Since I am in the middle of an insanely busy (3 DAY!) work week, there are no fancy progression pictures - I hope that you can forgive me, I know how much you all appreciate my iphone photography ;) 

Carmelized Onion & Mushroom Tomato Sauce

  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 portobello mushroom
  • 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar 
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Sweat chopped onions for about 15 minutes in 1 TBSP EVOO (sweating = onions & oil in a saucepan over med/low heat with lid on)
  • Take lid off - turn up the heat! (med/high) and stir around another 15 minutes, until the onion is brownish but not burnt 
  • Add chopped garlic & mushroom to the pan for about 10 minutes, until they become nice & soft
  • Add tomatoes, spices & balsamic (gives it a nice tangy/sweet taste) 
  • Simmer for 20-30 minutes or longer, the longer you simmer the better it tastes!
  • Serve over your fave pasta :) 
Peas & Love,

Monday, March 26, 2012

Busy Weekend & Homemade Almond Milk

Sheesh, this has been one caraaazy month!  It seems like every weekend we are running all over or traveling somewhere - it makes my two short days off go way too quickly!  This weekend I tried to make the most of my time by making my own almond milk - I tried two different methods and found a winner:
Attempt 1: (not the winner - but good if you don't feel like/forget to soak your almonds)

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small sauce pan
  • Add 1 cup of almonds and boil for about 3 minutes 

  • Drain almonds - allow to cool for a few minutes 
  • Peel skin off of almonds
  • Place almonds & 2 cups of water in bender - blend on high for a few minutes  
  • You may need to shake it around a few times or stir with a wooden spoon... unless you have a fancy schmancy blender
  • Add another 1-2 cups of water, depending on how thick you like your almond milk 
  • Blend again
  • Strain through either a cheesecloth or an awesome nut milk bag!
  • Refrigerate & enjoy!
Attempt 2: WINNER!! 
  • Soak 1 cup of almonds in about 2 cups of water - make sure almonds are covered 
  • In the morning peel almonds (time consuming, but worth it AND if you do it half asleep at 6 am like I did you won't even notice how annoying it is!)
Just give it a little squeeze!

  • Place almonds, 2 cups of water, a tiny dash of salt and about 1/2 tsp agave nectar in blender

  • Blend for a few minutes - again shaking and stirring as needed 
  • Once it is all white and frothy add 1-2 cups of water - again depending on how thick you want it 
  • Blend 

  • Strain
Check out that nut milk bag!

Attempt 1 was not as sweet and flavorful and a little more watery (probably more my fault than the recipes) Also - I read that soaking almonds removes toxic enzyme inhibitors that make it difficult for us to digest them (source) so soaking makes them easier for us to digest and reap those almondy benefits.
I was so excited when I tasted Attempt 2 - it was delicious!! It didn't taste like the almond milk I buy, but it was SO good!  I'm pretty excited that I can have almond milk without the tricalcium phosphate, xanthan gum, ergocalciferol and dl-alpha tocopherol acetate - WOAH I can't believe I hadn't read those ingredients sooner...

BONUS - if you're feeling really crazy (or hungover...) make yourself some chocolate almond milk!

Chocolate Almond Milk
2 cups almond milk
2 tsp maple syrup
4 drops vanilla extract
2 tsp cocoa powder

Throw ingredients in the blender (or whisk for a few minutes) and ENJOY! 

Peas & Love!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Slow Cooker Chana Masala

True story: I found chana masala by accident.  We went out to get some Indian for dinner, and I was at a complete loss.  My go-to Indian food was always chicken masala, I loved it (and miss it a little) and being a ordering scaredy cat, I had no idea what to get.  I am that annoying person that takes forever to make up their mind, and am then plagued by extreme guilt after ordering... So when we were ordering I told my waiter that I am vegan and left my fate in his hands - he chose a chana masala for me.  I fell in love.  This morning I was brave enough to tackle my own version, well my crock pot was at least.  I was greeted with a nice hot dinner and a yummy smelling house when I got home today, I love my crock pot!

Oh!  There's no funky processed foods in here either ;)

Slow Cooker Chana Masala 

  • 2 cups dried chick peas (or 2 16 oz cans, although I *highly* recommend using dried!)
  • 4 cups water 
  • 1 onion - chopped
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne (you can cut back if you don't like heat)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric 
  • salt to taste
  • *THE NIGHT BEFORE* place chick peas and water in crock pot - put on low and get a good night's sleep ;) (skip this step if using canned chick peas)

  • Wake up to plump beautiful & delicious chick peas - sorry canned but I'm over you
  • Dump the rest of the ingredients in

  • Give a stir 
  • Cook on low for at least 8 hours
  • Come home serve over brown rice, throw in some warmed naan for good measure!

  • Enjoy!
Peas & Love,

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Packaged Food Crutch

While I have thoroughly enjoyed my recent binge with all types of vegan comfort & convenience foods (tofu, tempeh, macaroni & teese, daiya, gardein, pre-packaged veggie burgers, bagels with tofutti - actually anything with tofutti!!) my body has not.  The past few days I have been sluggish so I started thinking about what I have been eating.  I realized that while these things tasted good and reminded me of delicious foods I haven't eaten in a while, they are also the exact opposite of what I was trying to achieve when I started eating vegan a few months ago.  I did this because I wanted to feel healthier!  For me, eating fake cheese & meat was a fast track to feeling worse.  Instead of beating myself up about it, I'll call those packaged foods training wheels.  They helped me get on my way while I removed all things meat & dairy related from my diet.  
Here's my (new & improved) philosophy on packaged foods-

Don't Eat It If:
1. It has an insane amount of ingredients (I like to shoot for a max of 5)
2. You can't pronounce or don't recognize some of the ingredients - the last time I checked ethoxylated diglycerides don't grow on trees- don't freaking eat it.
3. It contains high fructose corn syrup, even if the commercials promise it's ok... it's not.
4. It contains isolated soy protein - this causes a whole mess of problems with digestion, hormonal imbalances & reproduction, not a good scene.

Ideally I'd like to not eat any packaged foods or at least consume them rarely.  If you want to be a superstar you should concentrate on eating only whole foods.  It seems like these buzz words are everywhere and they may even bring other ones to mind - like organic, locally grown, all natural, pesticide free... but the definition of a whole food is way simpler than that.  A whole food is exactly that - the food as a whole.  It's the difference between an orange and orange juice, a baked potato and french fries, an apple and apple sauce.  It's best to eat something in it's natural state, or the way it was "born" for lack of a better word.   

Here's a quick dinner I whipped up last night (after making vegan Bailey's in preparation for my cousin's St. Patty's day Bachelorette party!!) Since I haven't gone food shopping all week I needed to wing it, so next time hopefully no canned products :)

Spinach & Artichoke Quinoa


  • 1 C uncooked quinoa
  • 2 C vegetable broth
  • 1 TBSP safflower oil (for sautéing) 
  • 2 minced/pressed garlic cloves
  • 1/2 C sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (I used a can since I have never prepared artichoke hearts before and I don't know how to!)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Start prepping your quinoa - bring broth to a boil, add quinoa - lower to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes 
  • While your quinoa is cooking pour safflower oil in a large pan over medium/high heat
  • Add garlic cloves and cook them for about 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn
  • Add artichoke hearts make sure you drain them well if using canned!
  • Break up artichokes with a wooden spoon and let them brown up with the garlic for about 5-8 minutes
  • Chop up your sun dried tomatoes and add them to the pan for another 5 minutes 
  • When your quinoa is done add it to the pan as well
  • Turn off the heat or down very low 
  • Add raw baby spinach and cover for 2-3 minutes to wilt it down a little without completely shriveling it up
  • Mix together and voila!
The flavors together tasted yummy and there was no faux cheese or meat in sight - score!

Happy St. Patty's Day Friends!!!

Peas & Love

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff

Twice in one day!?  Pretty much unheard of for PLB, so I hope you enjoy it!  Our dinner was so delish, and I was feeling pretty guilty for not posting a recipe in a few days so here ya go!

By the way, I am really on a tempeh kick, and I hope you are too

Vegan Mushroom Stroganoff
(based off of this recipe from OhSheGlows)
  • 1 medium onion - chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic - chopped, pressed or minced
  • 2 portobello mushrooms - chopped
  • 1 package of tempeh - sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 8 oz package of fettucini (I used an 8 oz package of spinach fettucini by DeBoles)
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary or 2 TBSP fresh
  • 4 TBSP tamari or soy sauce
  • 4 TBSP nutritional yeast
  • 2-4 tsp arrowroot (not sure how much I used in the end!)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups chopped kale - stems removed 
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Heat a large skillet over med/high heat - with about 1 TBSP safflower or sunflower oil, saute garlic and onions for about 5 minutes 
  • Add chopped mushrooms and saute for about 10 minutes 
  • In a separate pan, brown up your sliced tempeh; about 4 minutes each side over med/high heat - when golden remove from heat
  • Stir in nutritional yeast, tamari, and rosemary and let them cook for 2-3 minutes; then add vegetable broth
  • In a small cup, mix 2 tsp arrowroot with a few drops of water until it becomes a liquidy paste - pour into pan, keep doing until you reach the consistency you are looking for - I wanted mine thickish to stick to the fettucini
  • Throw in your fettucini (or pasta of choice) and cook according to package
  • Add tempeh and kale to mushroom mixture - cook together for another 5 minutes 
  • Drain your pasta and mix with the mixture
  • Enjoy!!
As always, Peas, Love & Thanks for Reading!!