Monday, July 25, 2011

Purple "Green Monster" and 5 other things that I am LOVING right now!

I am absolutely head over heels in love with the "Green Monster" smoothie movement. Of of my favorite blogs in the world, Oh She Glows, has a separate blog JUST for green monsters and I totally understand why.

I will admit, even as a professional fruit and veggie lover, I was skeptical of Green Monsters at first. GREENS in my SMOOTHIE? That cannot possibly be a good combination.

But let me tell you. It is. And better than the taste is the amazing energy and stabilizing boost these smoothies give you.

So what is a "Green Monster"?

A GM (Not to be confused with Genetically Modified) is a greens, fruit, nut/seed and non-dairy milk based smoothie. With the right combination, it gives you a huge shot of vitamins, anti-oxidants, minerals and other delicious things that your body thrives on.

This particular GM smoothie is chock full of wild blueberries, flax seeds and, of course, spinach (my favorite of the greens family).

The recipe looks a lil bit like this (put ingredients in blender in the order that they are listed):
  • 1 Tbsp flax seed
  • 1.5 cups spinach
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries OR fresh farmers market blueberries
  • 1/4 cup diced melon (I used cantalope)
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I like almond!)
  • 5-6 cubes of ice
Place the first 6 ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Then add the ice and continue to blend until all mixed together. Top with some Trader Joe's Soy and Flax cereal (sounds gross but it is DELICIOUS) and be prepared to feel BOMB all day :)

I can't wait to try some of these GM smoothies with Acai and maybe even a vegan protein powder. So many delicious and nutritious options!

Aside from these Green Monster smoothies, there are about 5 other things in my life that are just totally rocking my world right now and because I get so excited about them on the daily, I thought I would just go right ahead and share. 

1. Widmer's Citra-Blonde

Summertime is best enjoyed with a light, crisp and refreshing beer in hand. Widmer's summer seasonal totally hits the spot for me. It is fruity and light but still kicks with a good hoppy flavor and well-rounded beer taste. It's more beery than the Blue Moon (my other summer fav) and has a distinctly different taste from Widmer's Hefewisen (their "go-to" summer beer).

Nothing finishes off a long day like a great vegan dinner and a cold, tall glass of Citra-blonde. Now if Oregon would just keep up with the sunshine, we'd be in business!

2. My New Used Patagonia Rainshadow Jacket

Since leaving Eugene and getting a job that pays me some real money, I have decided that I can finally afford to replace a couple of things that were lost stolen from me in the meth capital of the United States (Lane County). 

Obviously not me, but you get the idea.
While I absolutely loved my down Helly Hansen jacket, when it was stolen out of my car I decided I wanted something different (and also vegan-friendly). I've been tentatively poking around craigslist for the past couple of months and I finally found the perfect new (used) jacket!

I present to you, my new Patagonia Rainshadow Jacket! Thanks to the confused Oregon weather, I've worn it every day since purchasing it last week. It's been that handy.

Actual Retail Price: $179.00 at REI
Craigslist Value Price: $65.00

What can I say, I'm a bargain hunter!

3. HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training)

HIIT training is essentially a treadmill interval workout (alternating between medium and high intensity workouts back to back). It is one of the absolute best and most effective training tools I have ever used for running and I am completely addicted.

The workouts are structured something like this:

1.) 5-10 minute warm up (Usually a 4.0 MPH walk on an incline of 4)
2.) 1 minute at 6.0 on an incline of 2
3.) 1 minute at 8.0 on an incline of 2
4.) Repeating steps 2 and 3 for 10-12 sets or for 20-24 minutes)
5.) 5-10 minute easy walk with no incline (cool down)

Sounds simple, right? It actually is. But it is one of the best workouts I have ever had. HIIT workouts have me sweating harder than a 5 or 6 mile run in about half the time. 

Here's what wikipedia has to say about HIIT training:

"HIIT is considered to be an excellent way to maximize a workout that is limited on time."

"According to a study by King, HIIT increases the resting metabolic rate (RMR) for the following 24 hours due to excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, and may improve maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) more effectively than doing only traditional, long aerobic workouts."

Yep, HIIT workouts boost your metabolism for 24 hours after the work out. They make you faster, stronger and increase endurance. All that in about 40 minutes :) Follow with a strength and/or ab workout and be prepared to get in shape!

4. SpiritHood

Spirithoods are animal hats. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but they are crazy popular now!

I mean if Kesha, Chloe Kardashian, and even Snoop Dogg have SpiritHoods, they must be pretty hip, right?

I don't know. All I know is that it is an animal hood made out of entirely vegan materials that resembles my dog. Also art of the profits from each hood go to help a variety of animal related non-profit organizations.

Couldn't be any neater if you ask me.

Wyatt agrees :)

5. Freddy Guys Hazelnuts

I don't know how they do it but these are the best hazelnuts in the whole world. I never thought I
would discriminate on hazelnuts but after eating these and then trying others, I am never buying another hazelnut ever again! Plus they are local and can be purchased weekly at the PSU market. Win!

I love hazelnuts in the morning before I work out - they are a great source of protein, fiber, anti-oxidants and healthy fats and, paired with a half a banana, they are the perfect jump start to give me the energy I need before morning workouts. 

Check out Freddy Guys Hazelnuts out and see for yourself! Get the roasted nuts (versus the raw) - you won't regret it!

That concludes the 6 things I am loving on a daily basis right now!

Live long and prosper! And find something to get excited about every day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Asparagus and Pesto Tofu Scramble

After stocking my fridge with a full batch of radish pesto yesterday, I have been cooking up a delicious pesto storm!

Trying to be more creative than my usual "pesto pasta with zucchini," I decided to use the zippy radish pesto in this complimentary tofu and asparagus dish because I knew would result in a great meal AND great lunch leftovers (I pack my mom's lunches for her. Sometimes I label them for the day of the week. We have a pretty good thing going on in our household).

Tofu is a great base to use when cooking with strong herbs or sauces like pesto because of its ability to absorb and disseminate all those lovely flavors. I am one of those freaks who loves to eat plain tofu straight out of the container (and do, frequently) but if you are just beginning to experiment with it or if you are cooking for a non-believer, use something flavorful like a pesto to help you ease into the glorious world of tofu.

Asparagus and Pesto Tofu Scramble
  • 1 block tofu, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 lb asparagus, chopped
  • 4-6oz crimini mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • salt/pepper/garlic powder/paprika/italian seasoning - to taste (about 2 tsp total I would say)
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 head rainbow chard or other greens, chopped (mine came from the garden - yay!)
  • 1 recipe garden-fresh radish pesto
Start by dry-frying your tofu in a smaller NON-STICK pan. Bring pan up to temperature over medium heat and toss in your tofu (no need for oil or fat source here; that's why it's called dry-frying). Lightly cook the tofu on each side until golden brown.

Meanwhile, in a larger fry pan, bring your veggie oil (I used grapeseed) up to temperature over medium-low heat. Toss in your onions and saute them for 2-3 minutes before adding the asparagus and mushrooms. Continue to saute for another 5-6 minutes before adding in the tofu.

You want to add in your spices and nutritional yeast right after you add in the tofu to allow them to toast up before you add in the pesto for maximum flavor enhancement. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.

As soon as the asparagus is cooked evenly - not too soggy and not too stringy - toss in your greens, spices, nutritional yeast and pesto and give the whole thing a good stir.

Cover the pan and continue to cook for another 4 minutes or until the greens are wilted!

Serve right on up and enjoy!

Live long and prosper! And don't fear tofu!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Garden-fresh Radish Pesto

My radishes are taking over!

I love them so very much, but they really aren't the most useful of cooking ingredients and one can only eat so many raw radishes.

I have been keeping constant watch for unique, radish-based dishes,  so when I stopped by Pesto Outside the Box's booth at the PSU Farmer's Market and saw that they had a concocted a vegan radish pesto, I knew I had to try it out for myself.

Aside from the obvious (basil, olive oil and radishes) I have no idea what POB puts in their radish pesto since I didn't think to look at the ingredient list, so my recipe is 100% my own. I wanted to keep it as light and summery as possible and utilize as many radishes as I could without overwhelming the basil/pesto flavor. The result was this lemony, slightly spicy, fresh and colorful pesto that looks as beautiful as it tastes.

Radish Pesto
  • 3/4 cup chopped radishes
  • 2 cups chiffonaded basil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Toss all ingredients in the food processor and pulse 7-8 times on high. Add more lemon juice and olive oil as needed until you get the consistency you desire! (Add more olive oil if you are adding the pesto to a pasta-type dish.)

This recipe really adheres to the "less is more" philosophy. I chose not to add any nuts and keep the oil level on the low-side because the radishes do a great job of adding the grittier texture as well as moisture to the pesto. Don't skimp on the agave though! It is important to counter-balance the spicy, slightly acidic flavor of the radishes and is crucial to balance out the pesto-ey flavors.

What a perfect and practical summer radish dish!

Live long and prosper. And eat your radishes!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Off the Griddle - Review!

The HOT! OTG Burger
The Smokey Bleu Burger and the Veggie Volt

A couple of months ago,  Groupon offered a series of coupons for local Portland Food Carts. There were something like 6 different cart options ranging from $2-$8 for $4-$15 worth of delicious local food cart fare. Being the food aficionado that I am, I promptly snatched up all the deals with vegan options and set to trying them out. 
This particular food cart, Off the Griddle, was my favorite by far.

Starting with a simple and balanced house-made, gluten free/vegan veggie patty comprised of leeks, mushrooms and both brown and wild rice, Off the Griddle takes their burgers over the top with unique vegan toppings, executed beautifully. Their use of Daiya, house-cured tempeh bacon, perfectly grilled, fresh veggies, a variety of different sauces (like the spicy tofu avocado sauce), and of course, Dave's Killer Bread, makes these burgers among the best I have ever had. 

OTG burgers aren't trying to imitate meat; they are simply acting as veggie burgers in their own right, with their own textures and delicious flavors. They taste fresh and healthy and leave you with a satisfyingly full belly - something that many vegan meals fail to accomplish.

It is easy to see why this food cart has become so popular on the Portland Food Cart scene and I predict it is here to stay.

Special of the month: "The Peanut Butter Applegasm"

OTG patty, Washington apple slices, all-natural peanut butter, Daiya vegan cheddar, house-cured tempeh bacon and frizzled onion; all on a Dave's Killer Bread bun. 

Located at the "A la Carts" Pod at SE 50th and Ivon.
4926 SE Division St, Portland, OR

Live long and prosper vegan food carts!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas

A couple nights ago, my mom opened the pantry cupboard, pulled out the hatch chili powder I brought her back from New Mexico and said "you need to make enchiladas." Being the creative, obliging and indentured daughter that I am, I went ahead and concocted this delicious enchilada recipe for the following evening. It was actually perfect because I've been looking for a recipe to try Daiya's new pepper jack blend (which I happily discovered at New Seasons last week) and this was just the ticket!

I used tofu in addition to the black beans and spinach, but you could also use sweet potatoes, zucchini or butternut squash; it's all a matter of what is accessible. I wanted the extra protein kick and I haven't been cooking with tofu very much lately, so tofu it was!

Whatever filling blend you decide on to compliment the spinach and black beans, the spices are what really puts these enchiladas over the top. My mom randomly has like 3 containers of saffron in the spice cabinet (either she has started hoarding expensive spices or she keeps forgetting that she has already purchased saffron, which, ironically, I have never seen her use, and purchases more - I'm not really sure) so I went ahead and helped myself to a little of that. If you have hatch chili seasoning that is awesome, but if not you can make a blend of paprika, cumin, garlic powder, and chipotle and/or cayenne seasoning work.

Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas
Yield about 5-6 servings

For the Sauce
  • 1 bottle Trader Joe's (or other) Enchilada Sauce
  • 5 Tbsp Hatch chili powder (red)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
For the Filling
  • 1 14 oz package extra firm tofu 
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pushed through a microplane grater
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp hatch chili powder
  • 10-12 strands saffron
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 4-5 cups fresh spinach 
  • 10 "handmade style" (or truly handmade if you can find them) small corn tortillas
  • 2 cups daiya pepperjack (or more if you like lots o' cheese)
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe's Avocado Salsa Verde (YUM YUM YUM - GET IT)
Preheat the oven to 425

Combine all sauce ingredients in a small sauce pan over low heat and place on the back burner. You want to give the sauce about 15-20 minutes to simmer so the flavors can all fuse together.  

Meanwhile, in a large saute or fry pan over medium heat, crumble your tofu into small crumbles (no oil necessary!) Allow it to "dry fry" for about 5-6 minutes and then add the onion and garlic. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes before throwing in the black beans. Cook for yet another 5 or so minutes and then sprinkle in all of your seasonings, distributing equally. Finally, throw in your spinach and allow it to wilt down for 2 or 3 minutes before removing the pan from the burner to let it cool slightly.


To prepare your tortillas, take a pan that is as close in size to the circumference of the tortillas as possible. Over medium heat, heat your tortillas one at a time with the lid on the pan to produce a steaming effect.

After each tortilla is lightly steamed (about 45 seconds on each side), dip the entire thing in enchilada sauce (either straight in the pan or, if you pan isn't big enough, pour the sauce into a bowl or plate and dip the tortillas that way). Fill each tortilla with somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 a cup of filling, roll it up like a big taquito and place into one corner of your baking pan (I used an 11"X 7" baking pan for these enchiladas)

Continue to do this with the remaining 9 tortillas until your pan is full! Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and then sprinkle daiya pepperjack over the top (here is where you can add more daiya if you want a cheesier enchilada).

Cover with tin foil and place in the over for about 20-25 minutes. Remove tinfoil and continue to bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the cheese looks melty and gooey.

Remove from the oven and let cool for just a couple of minutes. Then use a spatula to dig some out, top with TJ's creamy Avocado Salsa Verde salsa and munch!

Don't mind the Christmas plates. I really like the size and weight of them so I use them year round. The point is the food!

Live long and prosper, loves! And always respect yo mama.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rhubarb Mini Muffins

Rhubarb is often stereotyped as a "pie-only" food. Granted, it's not the most versatile fruit in the world (it is technically classified as a fruit if you didn't know) and, yes, its leaves are toxic which makes it even less practical, but its tart, tangy flavor can be utilized in so many different ways. Like, for instance, in these mini muffins!

Also, did you know that rhubarb is a strong natural laxative? I bet you didn't! Yep, the stems and roots have been used for centuries as tummy aids. So move over prunes!

Alright, to the muffins. These muffins are sweetened with agave and maple syrup and have a great tangy flavor because of the rhubarb. I also added lemon juice and a couple teaspoons of rosewater to give them some complexity. They turned out delicious-not too sweet-and the flax seed made them nice and fluffy :)

Rhubarb Mini Muffins
Yields about 24 mini muffins
  • 2 cups whole wheat white flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vanilla soy milk
  • 1/2 cup agave nectar
  • scant 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 2 "flax eggs" (6 Tbsp water and 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds whisked and set aside for about 5-10 minutes) or other egg replacer if you have it!
  • 5 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tsp rosewater
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (should be in small strips - 1/2 inch or so)
Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Grease a mini muffin tin (or two if you have two)

In a separate bowl, sift together dry ingredients until just combined.

In your mixer, combine the soy milk, agave nectar, maple syrup, oil, and flax egg and mix together on medium for about a minute.

With the mixer on low, slowly add your dry ingredients to your wet ones. Then add the lemon juice, rosewater and vanilla extract and continue to mix for another minute or until a pretty looking batter is created. There should be few to no lumps. The mixture will be a little sticky; don't worry, it's because you are substituting agave and syrup for the sugar. It may not be perfectly pourable but you can use a spoon to coerce it into your muffin tins.

When the batter is ready, take your chopped rhubarb and toss it into a small saute pan with just a touch of oil. Saute it for about 5-6 minutes or until the rhubarb begins to soften and "sweat." This is a great tip my dad taught me to help the rhubarb release some of its juice BEFORE you put it into your baked concoction in the oven. If you do this before making a pie, it will come out a lot less runny!

Fold the sauteed rhubarb into your batter until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for about 13-15 minutes!

The rhubarb has a great texture and flavor in the muffins. It off sets the lemony-mapley-rose goodness so nicely. See the little strings! What a funny fruit. 

A wonderful, non-pie summer treat!

Live ling and prosper. And get creative with your rhubarb!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad with Grilled Zucchini

Summer in Portland is the best anywhere. The beautiful clear days, lush greenery and plethora of outdoor related activities and events make all those long rainy fall/winter/spring days seem worth it. The Summer Farmers Markets alone make living in Portland worth it. The local food and farm community that we have here is so wonderful and they have taken huge steps to make local food affordable and accessible. Check out some of these great local farms (many of which offer CSAs as well!)
  • Baird Family Orchards (Cherries are in season - EAT THEIR RAINIERS!)
  • Groundwork Organics (Based in Junction City - they offer a killer CSA)
  • Spring Hill Farm (They always have a huuuge booth at the downtown market)
  • Unger Farms (The best strawberries I've ever had. And they have a U-pick as well!)
  • Wag Eggs (The owner of this farm works with my uncle and let me tell you, he treats his chickens magnificently. The man knows his hens)
This week, aside from Strawberries being in the last week or so of their heavy fruiting season and blueberries hitting the beginning of their season, Zucchini (my favorite of the squashes) were 2 for $1 at my one of my favorite little farm stands (Spring Hill). And basil was $3 for a bunch as big as a small bouquet of flowers. Accordingly, I purchased four huge zucchini--two yellow, two green--and one giant bunch of basil, all for less than the price of a latte. What did I do with all of the delicious farm fresh goods, you ask? I did this: 

BBQ-Ready Summertime Pasta Salad!

The recipe is pretty simple and has no added oils - only the oil from the avocado :) The main thing with this recipe, however, is that you want to make it shortly before serving because otherwise the avocado will begin to brown and will make the whole thing look a little frumpy and un-summery. 

Avocado Pesto Pasta Salad
  • 1 package bowtie (farfelle) pasta (whole what if you can find it!)
  • 2 large zucchini, sliced and grilled
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 large handfuls of basil (this is difficult to measure, but go overboard if you're worried - you can never have too much basil!)
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Braggs or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or 2 tsp Sriracha (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the bowtie pasta. Boil for about 12-14 minutes, depending on the type of pasta you are using. When the pasta is cooked fully, drain it in a large colander and run it under cold water until the pasta is cool to the touch.

Place the garlic, basil, avocados, walnuts, lemon juice and Braggs into the food processor. Pulse for 20-30 seconds or until smooth. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.

Add in the nutritional yeast and seasoning and pulse a few more times.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, the avocado pesto and both kinds of tomatoes until everything is evenly coated. Then gently stir in all but 8 or so slices of zucchini. Garnish the top of the pasta with the remaining slices and a basil leaf and pop in the fridge for 15 minutes or so and then serve!

Note on grilling zucchini: You can do this on a BBQ or simply on the stove top. I just coated a pan with a very thin layer of sunflower oil and then browned the zucchini rounds lightly on each side over medium heat (about 3 minutes on each side).

Live long and prosper! And support your local farmers!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Smokey Sweet Tempeh

After the past 10 difficult days of being camera-less, I am back on the blog and boy do I have a bunch of fun stuff to post.

I thought I would ease back into the blogosphere with this simple and delicious staple vegan recipe.

Smokey Sweet Tempeh
  • 1 package tempeh
  • 1 tsp canola/sunflower/other high temperature oil
  • 3 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp liquid smoke
  • seasoning of choice (I used a paprika-based cajun-style seasoning blend)
Cut your tempeh into cubes or strips.

Over medium high, heat up your oil in a large skillet or fry pan.

Toss in your tempeh pieces for about 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally, allowing them to begin to brown.

Drizzle in the maple syrup, coating all pieces relatively equally. Toss the tempeh in the pan until it is covered in maple syrup and the edges are beginning to caramelize.

Pour in the liquid smoke. It will produce a fair amount of smoke in the pan, but this is okay and will add to the smokey flavor.

Toss in the seasoning and continue to brown the tempeh until it is golden and crisp on all sides!

Throw on salads, sandwiches, pasta, whatever! I keep mine in a tupperware container in the fridge sometimes just to munch on, too :)

Live long and prosper blog world!