Sunday, October 21, 2012

Creamy Avocado Basil Pasta

So I know I said just the other day that my new addiction is Garlicky Kale, but I may have found something better (blasphemy, I know). My new new food addiction is this fresh Creamy Avocado Basil Pasta. And by addiction, yes, I do mean that I've made and eaten this dish four times already this past week alone. Don't judge till you try it.

Creamy Avocado Basil Pasta

Did I mention that once again this recipe is from Oh She Glows? Best. Blog. Ever.

The most amazing thing about this recipe is that it take as long to make as the pasta takes to cook. So fast, so easy, and pretty easy clean-up as well.

Start off by bringing your favorite pasta to a boil. I find myself going back time again to fettuccine, and I recently bought a spinach variety that was wonderful as well. Check the package to find out al dente cooking times.

While the pasta is cooking, get out that handy-dandy food processor of yours. Add:
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 avocado
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp of lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large fist full of basil--about a cup
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Blend until smooth, adding an extra splash of olive oil if necessary to get that creamy consistency.

Once the pasta is done, simply drain, mix in the avocado sauce, and serve with an extra sprinkle of finely ground sea salt on top!


Note: The original recipe called for the pepper and lemon zest to be put on top of the mixed up pasta as the last step. I found that the avocado was kind of lost that way, so I started to use less of both and began blending it up in the sauce instead.

This dish also works great if you want to add some veggies. I've used spinach on several occasions, returning the drained noodles to the heat and adding some fresh baby spinach while I stir in the sauce. You just want them wilted a little bit. I bet mushrooms or asparagus would be lovely as well!

It is difficult to get this recipe exactly right, just because you can't control every factor, such as the size of the avocado or garlic clove. Play around, figure out how you like it, and enjoy!

As a last note, do not store this pasta in the refrigerator and attempt to reheat it later. Make the amount of pasta you need and store any extra sauce in the fridge. That way when you want leftovers you can quickly and easily make more pasta and stir in the cold sauce with the hot noodles.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Raw Buckwheat Porridge

Okay, so the name doesn't necessarily sound appetizing, but don't knock it till you try it! This is, by a mile, my new favorite go-to breakfast food. There is zero prep time in the mornings once you've made a big batch of this. Just ladle into a bowl, throw some fruit or whatever else you want on top, and chow down. And unlike oatmeal, I could eat this plain with no toppings or extra sugar or anything and still be 100% satisfied.

Raw Buckwheat Porridge

Beautiful, isn't it? Sweet, almost snow-white, creamy in texture, and deliciously frosty, this could ac almost pass as a very filling dessert. So good! And, wonderfully enough, so simple. The best part of all is that it is super healthy and packed with fiber.

Step 1: Soak the groats. I start with 2 cups of groats and 4 cups of water, letting them sit overnight in the fridge. You should be able to find these at any health food store, and probably large grocers as well. Make sure they are whole raw groats, not anything that has been cut or processed! Here is what they look like:

Raw, unprocessed, whole buckwheat groats.

Let the groats soak overnight in plenty of water in the refrigerator.

Step 2: Rinse the groats. This is the hardest part. When you take them out of the fridge in the morning, you'll notice that everything got a little slimy. Don't be alarmed! Like a flax egg, the buckwheat groats caused the water to congeal a little. Drain them and rinse them with a fine colander or strainer. They don't have to be perfect, just make sure they are cleaned off for the most part (you don't want slimy porridge!).

Step 3: Process everything together. Place the rinsed groats in a large food processor (I had to do mine in two batches since the one I have is tiny). Add the following ingredients and blend until smooth:
  • 1 and 1/4 cups milk (I used sweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
If you've never used chia seeds before, you can find them in natural foods stores and in the spice section of larger grocery stores. They are a little pricey, but a little baggy from the bulk spice counter will last a while and won't cost much at all.

Chia seeds.

Also, feel free to add an extra dash or two of milk as you are processing in order to achieve the desired texture. I (accidentally) made the first batch rather coarse and the second batch very smooth, and when I mixed them together the result was lovely. I like a little bit of bite with mine. Play around with it to figure out what you like best.

Step 4: Top and serve. I have found the my favorite topping is diced strawberries, but a mixture of raspberries and blackberries are lovely as well. I didn't think that bananas worked as well, but then again I am picky about my bananas. You could do any sort of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc. Be creative--there is pretty much no way to go wrong!

A big thank you to Angela at Oh She Glows for this recipe. That is currently my favorite website and every single recipe of hers that I've tried as been amazing. Check it out!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Veggie Seed Burgers

Much, much better than the Black Bean Chipotle Burger that didn't work out a few weeks ago, this new burger recipe comes from Angela's Oh She Glows blog. While a little on the complicated side, this burger is the perfect texture and has a yummy nutty flavor. When you've just gotta have one, this burger recipe will definitely do the job.

Veggie Seed Burgers

The first step is to saute 1/2 of diced onions and 1 clove of garlic with a tiny bit of olive oil. While that is going on, mix up a flax 'egg' by adding 2 and 1/2 tbsp roughly ground flax seed and 1/2 a cup of warm water in a bowl. Stir and set aside for now.

Add to a large mixing bowl:
  • the sauteed onion garlic mixture
  • 1 cup of oats processed into flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup of grated carrot
  • 1 cup roughly mashed cooked black beans
  • heaping 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley (cilantro could also be lovely)
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

Combine thoroughly with a spoon.

Now, in a separate small bowl stir together:
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 and 1/5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
Dump the flax egg and the spice mixture onto the burger mixture.

Now it's time to get your hands dirty. Knead and mix until thoroughly combined. The mixture should be sticky and like a very chunky dough.

Form dough into palm-sized patties. We got eight of them.


The last step is to fry in a tablespoon of olive oil, just long enough to brown both sides, and serve with any toppings. We did avocado, tomato, and lettuce, which was really good. I am thinking that some crispy onion straws would be delicious too! We did find that the burger could use a bit of salt though, so feel free to sprinkle some on your fixin's before putting putting on the top bun.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

A big thanks to my good friend Donna for her suggestion and inspiration. I used to love to get us Starbucks coffee on the way to work in the fall. I would get a pepper mint mocha frap and she would get a pumpkin spice latte. Somehow I don't think that peppermint would be good in pancakes, but pumpkin worked out well!

Better than well, actually. These pancakes are freaking delicious. I tested them out on my mom when I made a trip home this past weekend and she is still raving about them. Me too--they were totally comfort food, and surprisingly healthy!

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Combine in a measuring cup:
  • 1 cup of milk (I use vanilla almond milk.)
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flower
  • 1/3 cup of canned pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp baking powder
  • Spices! I used 1/4 tsp each of freshly ground: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, & cardamom.
I originally included 2 tbsp of brown sugar to this recipe and I felt that it was too sweet. You could completely leave it out or use just 1 tbsp.

The batter. Add extra milk if necessary to get the perfect texture.
Also, stirring with a whisk seems to make a difference somehow.

Then fry 'em up! I usually don't use any oil while cooking, but non-stick spray is an absolute MUST for this batch. Not really sure why...

These get especially fluffy. Be liberal with the non-stick spray or they'll mush when you go to flip them.

Serve with 100% pure maple syrup. Yum! I will definitely be making this recipe over and over again this winter. It is just so homey. Also, I found very interesting, a single can of pumpkin has nearly 20 grams of fiber. Who knew!

Each batch makes about 6 pancakes. Things go a lot smoother if you have a helper, too:

My doggie, Katie, begging for a taste. Who could say no to that face?

I created this recipe myself so let me know how it goes!

Pita Pizza

These fast, versitile, and delicious little pizzas are the perfect portion for a generous snack or light meal. Not to mention they are fun to make!

Pita Pizza

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Assemble your pizza starting with a pita round spread with hummus (the more the merrier).

Cooked toppings could include:
  • tomato
  • garlic
  • mushrooms
  • onion
  • olives
  • herbs
  • asparagus
  • jalapenos
  • bell peppers

Pretty much anything would be good. Next, pop it in the oven for about 10 minutes. The pita gets so crispy and turns out like a chip. Then top with whatever raw ingredients and serve.

Raw toppings could include:
  • sprouts
  • spinach
  • basil
  • tomato
I'm sure that there are many more options than this. I'll be uploading and experiments and updating with new variations as I find them.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts

Here are some things that I've learned so far along the way:

1) Keep a bag of mixed chopped veggies in the fridge. Carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, onion, peas--just about anything will work. This will save time when you're in a hurry and the mix can be used for so many things, such as a quick curry or stir-fry.

Vegetable Curry

Vegetable Stir-Fry

2) Make extra rice to keep in the fridge. That way when you cook your pre-cut veggies you can serve them over pre-made rice for a cheap, quick, and easy meal! Just make sure the rice is covered tight so that it doesn't start to dry out.

3) Buy pre-chopped garlic. Almost every savory vegan recipe I have even made calls for chopped garlic. Instead of going through the hassle of doing that every time, buy a jar of garlic and just ladle in a tablespoon for each clove called for. Save the whole garlic and chopping it by hand for your better recipes that really deserve it.

4) Don't wash or peel things you don't need to. I don't peel carrots and I don't wash bagged lettuce. Unless you can see bugs or dirt, what is sprinkling a bit of water on it going to do? Absolutely nothing. If you are buying non-organic fruit you may want to rinse off any residual pesticides or other nastiness, however.

5) Don't bother to refrigerate packed lunches. In almost every recipe that I have made to take to school with me for lunch, there is nothing in them that would spoil from being left out at room temperature for a while. So instead of fussing with a insulated bag and a cold pack, I just toss a tupperware container and a fork into my backpack. This also means that you don't have to find a microwave to reheat cold food.

Btw guys, today marks the one month mark for my vegan challenge. I've lost 10 lbs so far and am still dropping fast! Why on Earth didn't I ever do this before now...?