vegan meal prep

This weekend I prepped some food to eat during the week to save some time and sanity when things get hectic.  I try to have some building blocks of meals available in the fridge so that I can make school lunches easily in the a.m. by mixing and matching, and it makes cooking during the week faster if I have veggies cleaned and prepped.  I posted my prep this week on my instagram stories (my handle is @mamaeatsplants) and I wanted to add it to the blog too.  My style of prep is not the bodybuilder-plastic tupperware-same meal for 5 days-plain veggies and meat situtation that I see a lot.  I would get SO bored if I did that.  I want the freedom to create what I feel like eating that day but also have the building blocks on hand to speed up the process, because #momlife .  Here’s the list with links and some interjected photos I saved from my IG story.

IMG_8196I start out on Friday morning, by setting aside some time to compile a list of meals, snacks, condiments, etc I’d like to make that week.  I write down all the groceries I’ll need to buy for those recipes.  To that list I add staples that we buy every week like fresh and frozen fruits, crunchy snack veggies, sweet/regular potatoes, lentils, quinoa.  Then I make a list of foods that I can prep ahead so I know exactly what I’ll be cooking on Sat/Sun.  I gather together all the bags, containers, and jars I will need to buy things package free.  Doing this ahead of time is KEY for me, otherwise I will inevitably forget to bring them with me.  On Saturday morning we go shopping at the farmer’s market, where I buy the majority of our fresh fruits and vegetables.  We head to our local co-op after that, where I buy bulk water, spices, dried beans and grains,and veggies/fruits that are on sale that week plus tofu, tempeh, nut butters and more.  That way I can just use my own bags and jars and not consume and throw away unnecessary plastic waste packaging.   Every couple of weeks we  go to Costco when I need something that’s a lot cheaper there- I stock up on bags of frozen fruit, rice, and onions which are so much cheaper there and we go through those items quickly.  I avoid most other stuff there as it comes in so much packaging!  Also, the grocery outlet near us has so many organic and quality items for super cheap, so we go there every once in a while too.

IMG_8197First up, I put some almonds in a jar to soak overnight.  I’ll blend and strain in the a.m.  It’s easy, tasty, and waste free almond milk.

IMG_8198Next, I toasted cumin seeds in a pan.  I bought these seeds in bulk and I used about half of them to refill and old spice jar of mine.  So, it only cost about on dollar for a new jar of ground cumin.  Store bought ground cumin loses flavor over time and tastes stale and dusty to me.

IMG_8199

Next, I started soaking a pound of chickpeas for a double batch of falafel I made the next day.  I use this bon appetit recipe and double it so I can have a bunch leftover.  I bake it instead of frying.

IMG_8200Then I made a fresh batch of rawnola in my food processor.  It’s so good to have on hand to snack on, top smoothie bowls, pack in lunchboxes for a treat, eat with almond milk and berries for breakfast, it’s amazing!

IMG_8201

I usually cook up a big batch of a grain to keep in the fridge to add to soups, salads, bowls and more to quickly create meals.  Tricolor quinoa is a favorite of ours as it’s gluten free, quick-cooking, and a complete protein.  I boil it like pasta so its al dente and all the grains are separate and not mushy at all.

IMG_8202I had some extra fresh red chiles on hand that were on their last legs, so I blended them up into sweet chili sauce.  It keeps a long time in the fridge and is great to drizzle on plain steamed greens, broccoli, buddha bowls and spring rolls.  I use this recipe .

IMG_8203I like to prep a healthy treat to pack in my daughter’s lunch and to bring to the park after school along with fruit.  These black bean brownies are a household favorite and I’ve fed them to unsuspecting picky omnivore kids with ecstatic feedback.  They are this recipe .

IMG_8204This week I decided to make a loaf of bread because I had some sprouted spelt flour on hand.  This is the recipe I used, and you should definitely check out Amy Chaplin’s blog.  She has tons of amazing plant based recipes.  This one has sprouted flour, seeds, whole grains, and is great for avocado toast.

IMG_8205Speaking of avo toast, I love to put sauerkraut on toast too.  Kraut is dead simple to make at home and costs a fraction of what store made does.  This week I decided to try a beet-cabbage kraut because I saw one at the store but it came in plastic so I passed it up and made my own.  This is the recipe I used.

IMG_8207IMG_8208Another staple for the week is a large pot of soup.  I pack this in a thermos for my daughter’s lunch, eat it with a salad for a super quick meal, have it for dinner, anything.  Soup is so healthy since all the nutrients stay in the broth, and it just keeps getting tastier as it sits in the fridge.  Also a great way to use up any less than fresh veggies you need to use up- reducing food waste too!  This week I made one with chard, lentils, tomatoes, quinoa, chickpeas and more.

IMG_8209Every week I wash and prep any veggies I buy.  Especially with kale, chard, lettuce and other greens, if I wash it and rip it up or take the stems out, I am so much more likely to eat it quickly.  If its in the fridge dirty I get really lazy about washing it and then it gets wasted sometimes!  Same with cauliflower and broccoli, I like to cut up pieces to make it easy to grab and cook.  I’ll be making cauliflower wings later in the week using this recipe except I sub part chickpea flour and part rice flour for the all purpose flour.

IMG_8210

All done and ready for the week, no matter how crazy or busy it gets (usually flies by like crazy).  I also made a batch of eggplant hummus using this recipe .  Hope you guys enjoyed!

 

What I eat in a day

When they find out I’m vegan, people usually ask “What do you eat?” followed by, “How do you get enough protein?” which is annoying, but I get it.  I had similar questions when I was first dipping my toe into this lifestyle.  Our society (funded by dairy/meat producers) has created an illusion that meat and dairy are essential to being healthy, which makes it hard for people to wrap their heads around vegan meals.  My mom still thinks you have to eat rice and beans at the same time to create complete proteins, that weird myth from the 70s when vegetarianism suddenly became in vogue, riding on the coattails of the hippie movement.  Literally no one who eats enough calories has had health problems from protein deficiency (I’m probably paraphrasing slightly here but whatever).  I also want to point out that this is the style of eating that makes ME thrive.  It’s very intuitive, I eat what I crave that day.  Different people feel better with varying ratios of fat, protein, carbs, raw vs cooked, etc. but I think everyone can thrive on a vegan diet.  Enough hot air, though.  Let’s get down to the good stuff.

7:30 am: finally get out of bed after an undisclosed number of unsuccessful attempts to brush off my alarm clock/the intense desire to remain in a warm bed (sigh…winter).  I drink a liter of water while I make school lunch for my daughter/make the kids breakfast (oat and chia porridge with blueberries, cinnamon, walnuts, flax, and coconut sugar).  I make a matcha latte with stevia and soymilk + pop a vitamin B12.  I almost never eat breakfast unless I have to leave the house early and will have no options to eat later.  I’ve always been like this- I hate to eat in the morning, it makes me feel sluggish and nauseated.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Noon: feeling pretty hungry: make a GIANT smoothie.  2 cups of OJ, peel 2 oranges and put them in the blender whole, top with ALOT of frozen mango (4 or 5 cups? i hate measuring because I’m supremely lazy), spoonful of homemade vanilla extract, some coconut water powder i had kicking around.  Add a glass of water and some vanilla stevia>>> blend.  I scooped some passionfruit on top because passionfruit.  Basically a tropical dreamsicle.  This made approximately 64 oz (2 large mason jars) and I drank. it. allllll.  Then my son came inside from playing, saw me with the smoothie, and cried because he wanted it.  OK, kid.  So I made another smaller version for him.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

2:00 pm: another liter of water and some herbal tea (Celestial’s Tension Tamer, if you’re interested)

3:30 pm: home from picking up my daughter and piano lessons, and getting hangry.  I grab some medjool dates and snack on them while I prepare dinner.  I got them from the farmer’s market, they are grown in Coachella and they are to DIE FOR.  Jumbo size (the length of a thumb and twice as fat), SOFT, tender, meltingly sweet with caramel and fudge notes.  They taste like spectacular German Chocolate Cake.  I eat 6 and drink some more water with them.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

5:30ish: sit down to dinner: Mac n Chz with peas and broccoli + our “house” salad- mixed greens, kidney beans, green onions, celery, dried cranberries, tomato, cucumber, ground flax, and a balsamic/maple/dijon dressing (google 3-2-1 dressing for exact measurements).  The “chz” sauce is a new favorite from the Forks over Knives cookbook: its potatoes, carrots, nooch, almond milk, and seasonings blended up.  Weird, right?  But SO good, the blended potatoes create a gluey, cheesy texture and the taste is fantastic.  The pasta I used are quinoa and rice elbows from Costco (gluten free).

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

7:00 pm: eat a black bean brownie I made earlier.  They are SO good, fudgey, rich, perfection.  I added some chocolate chips into the batter of  this recipe and added hazelnuts on top.  Vegan, gluten free, low fat, high fiber, high iron, omega 3s…..and they taste out of this world.  Great for kids, lunchboxes, afternoon pick me ups, etc.  Their fiber and protein means they won’t give you a crash after eating them, either.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

8:00 pm: I drink some hot tea (Traditional Medicinal’s Chamomile Lavender) to wind down.

There are also outdated ideas perpetuated by the media that vegans don’t get enough vitamins/minerals like iron, calcium, etc *eye roll* so I logged everything I ate today in Cronometer just to show the nutritional breakdown of my day if you’re interested in the science-y side of things.  Everything is spot on, selenium could be higher but I eat brazil nuts every once in a while to spike that up.  IDK why the B12 is so high?  I think I may have put in the wrong amount or something.

IMG_7248IMG_7249IMG_7250

Hope this was helpful in any way.  LOVE U ALL XOXO

Weekly grocery haul

Hi!  I often hear people say that they couldn’t afford to go vegan, which is very interesting.  I find that a whole food, high carb and low fat style vegan diet is a lot cheaper than when our family ate meat and dairy or high fat vegan.  The staples we rely on are some of the most affordable- bananas, potatoes, rice, beans, oatmeal, and frozen fruit.  I budget for my family of 2 adults+2 small kids $150/week for groceries. To make this work, I employ a combination of Costco (i try to limit these purchases because i hate all the plastic packaging), bulk bins at my local co-op, and the farmer’s market/produce stands.  This is what I bought this week: (first pic is from the farmer’s market, second from my Co-op and Costco combined).  Mostly everything is organic, but I also buy conventional sometimes if the organic option comes from far away or doesn’t look as fresh.  In this case, the almond milk, chocolate bar, and oranges are not organic.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

1/2 gallon of almond milk $2.99

bulk tamari (i refill an old 20 oz kombucha glass) $4.31 lasts quite a while

1 bunch kale $2.39

2x bunches celery $1.98

1 big cluster of shallots $1.69

gardein frozen “chicken” scallopini (the kids love these and i buy them maybe once every few months as a treat- not the best choice but you have to live a little ;))

90% chocolate bar (Lindt) $2.89 for treats- SO dark and bitter but very silky

10 Fuji apples $6

large hand of bananas $2.69

2 GIANT heads of romaine $4.78

large block of local tofu, from bulk section (put in my own le parfait jar) $3.11

black beans from bulk section (in my quart mason jar) $3.85 for black bean brownies!!

dried cranberries in bulk (quart mason jar) $4.79 for salads

chickpea miso paste $6.39 (lasts forever)

bulk bin chocolate chips in a pint mason jar $6.10 (expensive! but i prefer to forgo packaging whenever possible-kinder for the earth) for black bean brownies

4 gallons bulk reverse osmosis water in our giant glass jugs $1.17

6 large sweet potatoes

1 head red cabbage

25 lb local navel oranges $8.99- a super deal!  Not organic but super fresh and not sprayed with pesticides as per farmer.

4 lemons $1

6 limes $1

big bag of broccoli crowns $2.99

2 bunches asparagus

11 avocados $11

2 bunches green onions

1 kabocha squash- i love this steamed and drizzled with tamari, green onions and sesame seeds.  add rice and tofu for a complete meal.

GIANT bag of yukon gold potatoes- potatoes are life in this house, lol.  they get us through the winter.  roasted, in soups, oven fries, potato salads with vinaigrette, etc.

1 lb mixed greens

1.5 lb cremini mushrooms

2 large (Costco) bags frozen fruit: mango, and a tropical blend of mango, papaya,strawberry,pineapple

15 tomatoes

large bag of dried apricots, large bag of dried prunes- the kids love these as an after dinner treat and I have recently become inexplicably obsessed with prunes?

I lost one of the detailed receipts so I can’t list exact prices for everything , but I came in at approximately $160.  This is $10 over my budget for the week BUT some of these things (dried fruit, miso, tamari,choc chips,black beans) will last past the week and I came in quite under budget last week, so it evens out.

Some meals I’ll be making this week?

-celery, mushroom, cashew, tofu stir fry, seasoned with tamari and garlic+brown rice: one of our FAVE combos.  Super flavorful, filling, fast, and balanced.

-our “house salad”- mixed greens, green onions, kidney beans, dried cranberries, whatever chopped up veggies you have in the fridge+ a maple syrup/balsamic vinegar/dijon mustard dressing (3-2-1 dressing)

-quinoa, black rice, lentil, shredded kale salad- seasoned with shallots, herbs, and a bright mustard-vinegar dressing.  Probably will toss in some roasted asparagus or broccoli too.

-“house salad” + greek style lemon oregano baked potatoes- i use this recipe

-black bean brownies: seriously so good and i can let my kids have them for snacks because they are loaded with fiber, protein, and iron

-OJ+frozen fruit smoothies: such a easy and delicious combo.  loving OJ+ froz mango+ vanilla right now

-avocado sushi, duh

-forks over knives PIZZA with chickpea flour crust- recipe here

I’ll probably make other things too, but I don’t like to plan every meal.  I’d rather leave space for some creativity and intuition.

Hope this helps and please leave me a comment if you have a question or if there’s a specific topic you’d like me to post about!

 

Wintertime essential: ginger cinnamon tea

Ginger cinnamon tea anti inflammatory arthritis IBS cramps weight loss

In the same vein as last week’s post, I thought I would continue with the immunity and self healing thread.  It is winter and everyone is getting sick! My morning ritual revolves around meditation + yoga and a hot drink of some kind.  In the summer I like warm water with lemon, and in the winter I like ginger and cinnamon tea.  Having something warm first thing in the morning feels stimulating and soothing for my body.  It also helps to keep my immunity up so it can fight all the colds and flus going around.  The powerful anti inflammatory effects of these herbs help me keep my rheumatoid arthritis under control.

In traditional Chinese medicine, cool and iced liquids are thought to reduce Qi, or vital life energy.  In Ayurvedic medicine, the same concept exists: drinking cold liquids and foods puts out your digestive fire.  It is no surprise that hot herbal teas are commonly used in these cultures, to stimulate digestion and warm the body.

Cinnamon bark + fresh ginger root tea benefits:

Cinnamon is anti viral, anti fungal, and anti bacterial, making it wonderful for cold and flu symptoms.  It is also effective against candida and urinary tract infections.  It stabilizes blood sugar and is strongly anti inflammatory.  And it is delicious!  Cinnamon has a natural sweetness to it that balances out the spiciest of the ginger in this tea.  I use dried cinnamon sticks.  Ceylon cinnamon (the true cinnamon) is the most healing and medicinal variety.  Cassia (common cinnamon) can also be used, and is more widely available.

Ginger is an equally wonderful and underused herb; it improves circulation, eases pain (headaches and cramps!) reduces inflammation in the body, aids with digestion, and soothes nausea (morning sickness!).  Now I’m not talking about dried, packaged ginger tea- that stuff has little to no medicinal value.  Get your hands on a nice fresh chunk of ginger and prepare yourself some tea!

Directions: (serves 1)

2.5c water

2-3 inch chunk of ginger, cut into slices

2 cinnamon sticks

Put all ingredients in a small pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  This is crucial!  My acupuncturist told me that different medicinal compounds get released by the ginger after it is cooked for 20 minutes.  Otherwise it will not be as effective.  Strain into a coffee mug and add sweetener of your choice to taste (raw honey is especially good), I usually use stevia.

Sliced fresh ginger anti inflammatory weight loss immunity flu

Lots of love,

A.

Sickness + a turmeric ginger immunity latte.

Turmeric ginger pepper immunity latte flu prevention

(For the turmeric latte recipe, scroll to the very end of the post 🙂 )

My daughter for sick for the 100th time since kindergarten started.  *le sigh* kids are so germy when they are all together!

Happily, no one else has gotten sick… Yet.  And she has gotten a thousand times better just from herbs and natural remedies.  So I thought I would post today about my go to herbal medicine cabinet when illness strikes.  I don’t like to use medicines for kids, they are often unnecessary and very harsh to a little body who is not equipped to process such toxins.  Remember when they recalled cough and cold medicines for kids because they are dangerous and don’t even work?!  I go the herbal route and it has worked for us 90% or more of the time.

First of all, for fevers, I don’t give fever reducing meds like ibuprofen unless the fever is over 104 degrees Fahrenheit.  Children can safely have higher fevers than adults.  Fever is a natural defense your body utilizes to get rid of the virus/bacteria.  If you lower the fever, you are lowering the body’s ability to heal itself!  Lukewarm baths and cool washcloths for the head can help to comfort a child with a fever.

Do not give cold liquids!  This is jolting for the body and it has to struggle to bring it back up to equilibrium.  Warm liquids encourage the removal and dislodging of mucus and congestion and are soothing for a sore throat.  Especially beneficial are herbal teas like chamomile, elderberry, slippery elm, and echinacea.  Traditional medicinals brand teas have tons of great blends just for kids.  Stir in a tablespoon of coconut oil for a sore throat.  Also great are warm water with lemon juice added, and diluted warmed citrus or apple juices.

Support the body’s natural ability to heal with herbs!  I love the herbs for kids brand of tinctures, they have lots of different blends for different ailments.  The two I use the most are the echinacea +astralagus for deep immune support and the cherry bark blend for respiratory support.

If there is mucus, I always give marshmallow root.  It has mucilaginous qualities which help to remove mucus and break up congestion.  I buy it in capsules and then empty 2 capsules into hot liquid and stir it up.

For coughs and colds, I find umcka syrup to be amazing.  It is a homeopathic syrup that is widely used in Europe to shorten the duration and severity of colds and it really works well.

Elderberry syrup is also wonderful for supporting the immune system and reducing the severity of illness.

As far as homeopathic medicines, I always keep belladonna (for high fevers, infections and inflammations) and pulsatilla (runny nose, mucus, clinging child) around.

Ear infections respond really well to warmed oil with garlic and mullein.  You can buy it in a little dropper bottle at your health food store, usually it has arnica added too-a homeopathic medicine for pain relief.  Just warm up the whole bottle by submerging it in hot water.  Test some oil on your wrist to make sure it’s not too hot.  Then have your child lay on their side and drop 5 drops of the warmed oil in each ear.  Sing or tell a story while you do this so that they will stay at least a minute on their side.  Do the other ear the same way too even if it doesn’t hurt.  HOWEVER if the ear is leaking pus/blood/liquid do NOT put anything in it, this means the eardrum has perforated.

If your child doesn’t want to eat, it’s OK!  Sick animals do not eat.  This is because digestion takes LOTS of energy.  Energy going towards digestion=energy taken away from healing and fighting sickness.  Give foods that are easy to digest with high water content, like juicy fruits (citrus, pineapple, grapes, mango) white rice, warmed broth and steamed broccoli.  Absolutely do not give your child dairy or wheat when they are sick.  These foods produce mucus in the body, adding to the mucus that is already there when they are sick, and are generally hard to digest and irritating to the digestive tract.

Essential oils are another great tool to have.

eucualyptus: breaks up congestion, good to dilute and rub on chest and to put in a diffuser and or humidifier, or in the bath.

peppermint: relieves headache.  Dilute and rub on temples, jaw, forehead to relieve pain.

Clove and cinnamon oils: are potent anti virals, dilute and rub on the bottoms of feet to fight and prevent illness.

lavender: very calming.  Great for massage or in the bath to calm an irritated or sad child.

And lastly, to ensure no one else gets sick, up your intake of immunity boosting foods…mushrooms, greens, vitamin c rich foods, lemons, spirulina, turmeric, ginger, garlic, etc.  If you feel like you are getting sick my favorite remedy is to blend lemon juice, ginger, cayenne pepper, garlic and honey all together and drink it.  It really works!  Also, this turmeric-ginger latte is a delicious favorite.  Here’s the recipe:

Turmeric ginger immunity latte.

2c plant milk (almond, hemp, coconut, whatever)

A few quarter sized slices of ginger

1t ground turmeric

1/8t fresh ground black pepper (this increases the turmeric’s bioavailability a lot)

honey/sweetener to taste

bring the milk and finger slices to boil in a small saucepan.  Let them simmer for 5 minutes, covered.  Fish out the ginger and add the turmeric, pepper, and sweetener.  Pour into a cup and enjoy!

Miso vegetables with rice and sesame peanut crunch.

Plenty more ottolenghi vegan rice bowl macrobiotic

This recipe comes from my favorite new cookbook, Plenty More by Yoham Ottolenghi.  The man is a genius with veggies.  I love his philosophy because it’s all about celebrating vegetables for what they are instead of trying to manipulate them into trying to taste like an animal product.  No mock-meats and junk filled fake cheeses for me, please.  This is pure vegetable goodness.Vegan rice macrobiotic miso soy bowl vegetables winter

This recipe is very well balanced flavor wise, and superrrr delicious.  All the veggies are shortly blanched, allowing them to retain almost all of the amazing vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for your body’s benefit.  Switch up the veggies according to what is available and on hand for you!

Miso vegetables with rice and peanut sesame crunch. (Serves 4)

1 large piece kombu seaweed

1.5T tamari

2 scant T red miso

1.5T mirin

1.5t sugar, any kind you use (ok to omit)

1 small head broccoli, cut into bite size pieces, stems peeled and matchsticked

1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks

8 ounces mushrooms, I used shiitakes, stems removed and cut into bite size pieces

1c snow peas, matchsticked

1/2 a medium cucumber, matchsticked

1c cilantro, chopped

4T roasted peanuts, chopped

2T sesame seeds, toasted

1T rice vinegar

1t maple syrup

1t sesame oil

1t chile flakes

Cooked rice of choice for serving (I used sprouted brown) about 2c

Bring 1.5c water to boil in a saucepan, add kombu, cover and let simmer 10 minutes.  Remove kombu and reserve.  Add soy sauce,mirin, sugar, and miso to pot and combine thoroughly.   Bring to a boil; add broccoli and cook for 4 minutes; remove with strainer and place in a large bowl.  Add mushrooms and cook for 3 minutes; remove to bowl.  Add carrots and cook for 2 minutes, remove to bowl.  Add snow peas and cook 1 minute; remove to bowl.  Add cucumber and cook 15 seconds; remove to bowl.  Allow remaining liquid in pot to reduce on medium heat until about 1/4c is left.

While the liquid is reducing, mix up the peanuts, sesame seeds, sesame oil, maple syrup, rice vinegar and chile flakes in a small bowl.  Cut the kombu into thin strips.  Divide the rice between four bowls; add the veggies and kombu on top and garnish with peanut mixture and cilantro.  Drizzle the reduced liquid on top and serve!

Green Thai curry (in a hurry)

Thai curry green vegan homemade tofu spicy

Thai green curry tofu homemade spicy

Thai curry is so delicious and really simple to make at home.  I love it for cold weather because it’s so comforting and spicy and warms you up inside.  It’s super easy to make at home at a fraction of the cost of takeout.

A curry is only as good as the curry paste that you use.  It is so worth making a trip to an Asian market or ordering online to get the good stuff.  Mae Ploy is my personal favorite and is widely available here, but I’ve also heard that Thai and True is good.  Steer clear of brands like Thai kitchen or premixed sauces, as their flavor is bland at best.

For the veggies, you can switch it up to include whatever you’d like, but it’s nice to include one starchy veggie like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, or carrots + at least one non starchy veggie like broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, bell pepper, etc + a whole onion to give it a good texture balance and flavor.  I used tofu here but it is totally optional.

Thai green curry with green beans, sweet potato and tofu (serves 4)

1T veggie oil (coconut or avocado)

1 large yellow onion, sliced

4-6T green curry paste, preferably Mae Ploy

1 can coconut milk

1 large sweet potato, chopped into 1/2 in chunks

2c green beans, cut into bite sized pieces

1 15 ounce package organic tofu (optional), cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Thai basil for topping (optional but delicious)

Cooked rice for serving (optional)

Drizzle the oil in a large skillet and add the onions.  Sauté for 2-3 minutes until the onion is soft.  Add the curry paste and stir well.  Fry for a minute until paste is fragrant.  Add coconut milk and 1c water, stir well.  Add sweet potato and cook for 6-7 minutes uncovered until sweet potato can be pierced with a fork.  Add green beans, cover, and cook for 4 minutes or until all veggies are tender.  Add tofu and cook for another 2 minutes until tofu is warmed through:  serve over rice and top with Thai basil leaves.

Butternut squash + Shiitake ragout

Butternut squash shiitake stir fry ragout

Butternut squash shiitake mushroom stir fry raguI’ll admit it up front. I don’t really like butternut squash. I always want to like it: it’s so beautiful and orange and HEALTHY! It’s ok when it’s puréed into soup but it’s still…squash.

I had a couple of plants this year come up from seed in my compost, so I let them do their thing and now I have about 20 butternut squash. Cooool.
So, I started checking out recipes outside of roasting/pureeing and found a recipe from bon appetit that was amazing! It doesn’t taste squashy but has a creamy texture. It has sweetness from the port, umami from the shiitakes and a pop of color + flavor from the garnish of pomegranate seeds.
Bottom line: I would make it again and again, and this coming from a self professed butternut hater.

Butternut + shiitake ragout: (serves 4)

10 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and reserved, caps halved if small or quartered if large
4 sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup tawny Port, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut in 1” cubes (I used 2 pretty small ones)
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Combine shiitake stems, tomatoes, and 2 cups boiling water in a bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add mushroom caps; cook until lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt. Add garlic; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in 1/4 cup Port and cook, scraping up browned bits from skillet, until liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes. Stir in onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, scraping up browned bits from skillet, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Pour in remaining Port and cook until sauce is glossy, about 3 minutes.
Add butternut squash; stir to coat. Strain the mushroom stem liquid into skillet; discard stems, chop the tomatoes, and add them to squash mixture. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover skillet, and cook until squash is almost tender, about 10 minutes. Uncover; continue to cook until liquid is reduced and glossy, 5-8 minutes.

Hope you enjoy!  I served this with simple quinoa: tossed with parsley, lemon zest and olive oil.  So satisfying and filling.  Great for a meatless Monday 🙂

Much love,

A.

Easy superfood dark chocolate bark. (5 minutes!)

chocolate bark vegan pomegranate superfood

I have been making a batch of this chocolate bark every week and keeping it in the fridge, enjoying a few pieces each night as an after dinner treat.  Silky and rich, with tons of different flavor nuances just like a good wine.  With lots of polyphenols and antioxidants, dark chocolate is a healthy treat.  Just make sure you’re eating 70% or higher cacao content to ensure that you’re reaping all the healthy benefits chocolate has to offer.  Cacao has a specific antioxidant, epicatechin, that lowers the risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia.  Some researchers even consider epicatechin an essential vitamin.  It reduces inflammation, improves blood flow, and elevates nitric oxide in the blood ( this is what Viagra does- no wonder chocolate is considered a love food) .

This bark is infinitely customizable and only takes about 5 minutes to put together. The one I made today was sesame seed (gives a savory quality to it, almost like chocolate covered pretzels), coconut flake, hemp seeds, pomegranate arils, flaky sea salt, and almonds.  Almonds are my favorite nut to use because they give the biggest crunch payoff.  Get a pretty tin to put it in and it makes a wonderful last minute gift, too.

IMG_2315

Superfood Dark Chocolate Bark.

8 ounces or so (2-3 bars) dark chocolate, preferably 70% or above and organic (I prefer Scharffenbergers (not organic but no-gmo soy lecithin) or Green&Blacks)

Any or all of these healthy toppings:

hemp seeds

coconut flakes (toasted or not)

sesame seeds

almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or cashews

pomegranate arils, freeze dried raspberries or strawberries, dried cherries, goji berries, etc.

flaky sea salt (like Maldon)

Rig a double boiler: fill up a large saucepan halfway with water, then place a heatproof mixing bowl over the pot.  Make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  Start the water boiling and chop up your chocolate.  It doesnt have to be super tiny pieces, just a rough chop will do fine.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat (aka the best invention ever) or parchment paper.  Now put all your chocolate in the bowl of your double boiler.  Stir with a rubber spatula until thoroughly melted.  Pour your chocolate onto your lined pan.  Spread the chocolate out with your spatula until it is the thickness you desire.  I like it thin so I spread it out a lot.  Sprinkle all your desired toppings over.  Pop in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden up.  Peel the chocolate carefully off of the silpat/parchment and break into coarse pieces.  Store in the fridge or freezer for a snappier chocolate, or keep at room temperature (no hotter!) in an airtight container.  If you give it as a gift it would be a good idea to seperate the pieces with parchment paper so they dont stick together.

My personal favorite: Scharffenberger 70% cacao.  Their 85% is AMAZING too.  Rich, nuanced chocolatey flavor with NO acrid/bitter flavors that I taste in many dark chocalates from other brands.  Green & Blacks is my second choice, organic, and more widely available.

scharffenberger bittersweet

Enjoy!

Love,

A.

Creamy berry-almond breakfast smoothie.

berry almond butter smoothie

I have been loving this smoothie for breakfast lately!  I love oatmeal or pancakes for breakfast, but sometimes I just want something sweet and creamy.

This smoothie takes 2 minutes to make in the morning (no cutting fruit or anything!) so its ideal for when you’re in a rush but want something good for you too.  It has tons of healthy, filling fats from the almond butter and antioxidants from the berries.

I equally love this smoothie made with a frozen banana instead of the berries.  It is seriously like a milkshake this way- the banana makes it super creamy and sweet.

The hint of almond extract in this is so delicious.  It elevates the other ingredients and makes a basic smoothie a little more fancy.  If you’re not a fan of almond flavor (like my husband), try vanilla extract instead.

Almond breakfast smoothie. (serves 1)

1c unsweetened almond milk

1/2 c frozen berries OR 1 large-ish frozen banana

1 heaping tablespoon almond butter

5 drops stevia OR sweetener of your choice

1/8t almond extract OR 1/2t vanilla extract

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy!

Much Love,

A.

P.s. Kids are into it too 😉

IMG_2200