Friday, August 26, 2011

Garden Fresh Homemade Pizza

There is something so inherently satisfying about pizza. It's just good - in almost any form and there's no better way to make it better than to make it good for you too :)

This pizza is the epitome of good for you. Plus, if you are anything like me and you have basil and various other vegetables overtaking your garden, it is a great way to use a bunch of fresh ingredients in one hit.

I may not even need to give you an explicitly laid out recipe for this one -it's that easy.

Take one part Trader Joe's herb pizza crust, one part Trader Joe's pizza sauce, and one part fresh garden vegetables of choice and viola - a beautiful and healthy dinner that anyone can enjoy.

(In case you are wondering, I used about 2 cups packed spinach, one GIANT handful basil, one yellow and one green zucchini, six halved cherry tomatoes and one green bell pepper and to top my pizza - in that order).

Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes and enjoy!

Try to squeeze as many colors as possible in there to assure you are getting the max variety of veggie-based vitamins!

Live long and prosper! Healthy comfort food style :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jackfruit Tacos with Cashew Cream Sauce

Magical jackfruit makes its mark yet again!

The last time I experimented with jackfruit, I used it in my BBQ Pork Buns. And even before that it made a center stage appearance in my Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

In this interpretation, I flex jackfruit's versatility by using it to imitate shredded chicken in these delicious soft tacos!

Topped simply with shredded green cabbage, cherry heirloom tomatoes, and a tangy cashew cream sauce, the complex flavors of the jackfruit really shine through (which is great because it was seasoned perfectly!)

Shredded Jackfruit Tacos
  • 1 can jackfruit in brine
  • 1.5-2 Tbsp vegan taco seasoning OR homemade taco seasoning blend (recipe to follow)
  • Wet ingredients blend (recipe to follow)
Taco Dry Seasoning Blend
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red peppers
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients Blend
You have some flexibility with the wet seasoning blend. The tomato paste and veggie broth are both crucial for the right color and moisture, but the rest is kind of up to you! Choose your own hot sauce, sweetener (I use BBQ sauce!) and other additives. I call this the "whatever is in your fridge" adaptation.

In addition to the tomato paste and broth, this is what was on my line up:

Sriracha (SHOCKING, I know), Ketchup, Salsa Verde, BBQ Sauce

The wet ingredients breakdown looks something like this:
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup (plus more as needed) veggie broth
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp Ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Salsa Verde
  • 1-2 Tbsp BBQ Sauce
Start by rising, draining and cutting the core of the jackfruit off so you are left with the washed stringy pieces.

Add the jackfruit and the entire dry seasoning blend to the pan and slowly toast them together over medium-low heat (about 7-8 minutes).

Then add the wet seasoning mix, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Using a fork, break apart the softened jackfruit pieces until they have a stringy, "shredded" type consistency. Adding veggie broth as necessary, continue to simmer over low heat for another 10-15 (as many as 30) more minutes.

While the jackfruit is in simmer stages, begin on the cashew cream sauce!

Cashew Cream Sauce
  • 1/4 cup RAW cashews 
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp cold water
Start by soaking the cashews in a bowl of water for a minimum of 20 minutes

They will look something like this!
Soaking Away!
Mmm soggy cashews...
When they are done soaking, combine all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth (about a minute)! Easy peasy!

As your jackfruit is finishing up, prepare your other toppings. Also you might want to think about heating up your tortillas - if that's your thing of course. I heated my "Food for Life" sprouted corn tortillas in the oven on 300 for about 10 minutes!

Compile your tacos, top with cashew cream sauce/any other hot sauce and munch!

So good and SO good for you :)

Live long and prosper! Jackfruit style!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Smokey Mango Black Beans

Black beans have got to be one of the most perfect foods on the planet. Great source of protein, fiber, and phytonutrients -- even the World Health Organization utilizes them as a good "bang for your buck" food when distributing resources to impoverished nations.

They are good for your colon and your blood sugar and your cholesterol and even your cardiovascular system. They are filling and inexpensive and have little to no risk of contamination or spoilage. And if that weren't enough, black beans also have a healthy dose of antioxidants (i.e. they may help prevent cancer).

I mean, my goodness, there are few foods in the universe that can make all those claims AND still taste delicious.

And they are even better with mangoes!

Admittedly, I didn't come the black bean and mango flavor pairing on my own, but I liked the sound of it and wanted something easy to add a little variety to my already delicious and well loved black bean.

Plus mangoes are chock full of Vitamin C (which black beans lack) as well as A and E! What a beautiful and nutritious pairing.

I added some liquid smoke, a touch of agave and some spices (and Sriracha of course) to really give these black beans some kick.

Smokey Mango Black Beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 large, ripe mango, diced
  • 2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp Sriracha sauce (use less to reduce spice)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
Add black beans and mango to a small sauce pan over low heat and cover. Allow to warm for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and then add the remainder of the ingredients.

Cook over low heat (again, covered - stirring occasionally) for anywhere from 10-20 minutes to allow flavors to combine! 

So simple and yet so good. Use as a stand-alone side dish, in a burrito or to top a salad (like the one pictured). You could also possibly do this dish or some modification of it in a crock-pot and make a delicious side dish for a BBQ!

They store beautifully and can be eaten for days - if you can keep them around long enough!

Live long and prosper! Black bean style.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Berry Season Overload

This is my fridge right now. I have the house to myself and I have a whole half flat of berries, six apples, two mangoes, an entire watermelon and eight bananas.

I feel like I may have a problem.

And don't even get me started on the vegetables clogging up my produce drawers.

After my self-reflection and analysis, I think my fruit-binge is caused by this creeping fear of berry season ending (strawberries are already in their last week!) and my need to get as much seasonal fresh fruit while I can. I know I can freeze them or bake with them or whatnot to extend their shelf life (I haven't started canning yet but it is a hobby I see in my near future) but I really just like fresh berries.

A lot of fresh berries. Fruit in general really. I think I ate a whole half of a watermelon yesterday.

This is why I haven't been blogging as many recipes. I've just been eating fruit.

I have another problem. Its name is Basil.

I never ever thought I'd see the day when I had too much basil. But that day has come. And it's still growing! All of the seedlings we planted took off and now we have the transplant that has thrived in ADDITION to all the new growth basil plants.

I don't know what to do! I use it in everything, I have made pesto like 3 times and yet it grows faster than I can pluck it off the little branches!

Basil everywhere!

In other news! Turtle Island in Hood River (maker of Tofurkey and other vegan goods like So Delicious Ice Cream and many others) saw a 25% growth in sales this year!

Very very exciting. Even when the economy is down, vegan companies are growing exponentially! They are building a new $10 million dollar plant and currently estimate that over 4,000 stores carry some kind of Turtle Mountain product.

This is amazing news for Turtle Island and for vegans everywhere!!
Mmm Tofurkey Brats

So if anyone has any killer recipe ideas for fruit and/or basil, please let me know!

I'll try them and post them :)

Until then, live long and prosper. And enjoy the bounty of summer!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Shrimp" Stirfry and The Fubonn Experience

I know, I know. These faux shrimp also strike me as incredibly strange. But lets be honest: shrimp are kind of weird to begin with so making a meatless, similarly fetus-shaped alternative, isn't really that weird.

Plus they taste pretty darn good. I was concerned that they would be chewy and have that fake seafood/fishfood flavor, but really they were pretty mild and had a nice texture. And being that they have 4 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein and only 112 calories in a serving, I am generally pleased with this meatless stir fry alternative.

A close up of the Faux Shrimpy
So what inspired this shrimpless shrimp stirfry?

The Willamette Week.

I absolutely love Portland's local papers and try to pick up the Willamette Week on a regular basis now that I am back in Portland for good.

This week, an ad caught my eye. Looked like this:

I had never ever heard of this Fubonn place! How could that be?? I immediately googled it and discovered why.

It's out on SE 82nd (a road that I have been on maybe 3-4 times in my life and that I virtually have no reason to go to).

I was kind of bummed because I didn't really feel like driving all the way out there just to go shopping so I made a mental note to stop by the next time I was even remotely in that area.

And then, what do you know! Not three days later Colin convinced me to drop him off at a bachelor party in the classy neck of the woods that is SE 82nd st and I found myself at Fubonn's front door!

This place is insanity. It's by far the largest Asian market I have EVER been to. They have the BIG bottles of Sriracha for $2.18 and a produce section that beats Whole Foods in size and variety.

If my heaven were Asian, it would look like Fubonn.

I sniffed out the "meatless" section and was shocked and awed by what I found.

Ummm...excuse me?

All this stuff is VEGAN?!

I really didn't even know where to begin. It took  me a while to pick out the products I wanted to try because even though Fubonn has the single largest collection of meat-resembling non-meat products, the whole "trying to be meat" and "overly processed soy/gluten faux meats" are not really my thing.

But it was still interesting nonetheless and I left with a couple really cool things to try.

Namely, the shrimp, some black rice pasta (looks like licorice), some spicy sunflower seeds and some veggie stuffed dim sum buns.

I didn't buy these:
Dehydrated "Vege Duck" (Imitation Poultry).

Again, not really my thing. But still amazing that so many alternatives exist! The store was also so clean, bright and well laid out. I spent close to an hour just wandering, reading ingredients and exploring aisle after aisle of products I couldn't have dreamed up if I tried.

Upon checking out I naturally also had to buy some rice paper candy.

Needless to say I was very satisfied with my Fubonn experience and even more satisfied with the inspiration for my resulting "Shrimp" Stirfy! Making a guest appearance in this stir fry are kelp noodles which I have been wanting to try for a while and which you should definitely check out if you haven't already!

They are gluten free, fat free, vegan and only 6 calories per serving. Yes, that is not a typo. I said 6 calories. 3 servings per bag.

Shrimpless Shrimp Stirfry
  • 1 package faux shrimp (in the freezer aisle)
  • 1 package kelp noodles
  • 1/2 sweet walla walla onion
  • 1 tsp grapeseed or other veggie oil
  • 1 large head broccoli, chopped
  • 1 large bunch of chard (or bok choy or other green), chopped
  • 1 large handful of basil, chiffonaded 
  • 1 tsp Trader Joe's all purpose seasoning (or a mixture of salt, pepper, onion, garlic, paprika, chili pepper etc...)
For the sauce:
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp veggie broth
  • 2 tbsp Braggs or soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
Heat your oil over medium heat and add onion. Saute for about 3-4 minutes (or until beginning to brown) and then add the shrimpies, broccoli and kelp noodles. Saute for another 3-4 minutes and then add the remainder of the ingredients, including spices.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, whisk together your sauce ingredients until smooth and evenly combined (the heat will help with this).

Add the sauce to your stir fry and toss until all veggies are evenly covered.

Put the lid on your pan, reduce heat to medium low and allow ingredients to steam for about 6-7 additional miutes.

Transfer stir fry to a bowl and enjoy this flavorful, unique and healthy vegan meal!

Live long and prosper! Asain mega-store style.