Week 26: Plant Based in Color, Texture and Flavor

When I returned home from the wedding festivities last weekend I was exhausted.  I was relaxing with the summer reading issue of O Magazine and was pleased to see that Oprah listed planting, picking, cooking, and eating vegetables from her garden as four of her favorite twenty things to be grateful for.  The recipe section inspired my lunches for the week.  Quinoa Salad with Arugula and Tomatoes was a very satisfying and filling lunch.  The quinoa has thinly sliced red onion and diced jalapenos and is served on a bed of arugula with tomatoes and cucumber.  Spicy Citrus Dressing is absolutely delicious.  I left the olive oil out entirely for a low-fat version and did not even miss it.

007The salad and dressing has everything one could want in a meal: eye-appealing color on the plate, a variety of textures from the crunchy arugula to the soft quinoa, and sweet citrus with spicy chili and jalapeno for a balance in flavor.  I think this will be a favorite summer lunch!  Lucky for you both recipes are posted online (but if you are a reader like me I’d recommend buying this month’s issue for the summer reading recommendations).

With lunches taken care of I went looking for some dinner inspiration.  I hadn’t made a good stir fry in awhile and remembered there were a number I hadn’t tried yet in Happy Herbivore Abroad so went perusing for some dinner options.  I decided on Chili Bok Choy, a Thai inspired simple stir fry.  I’m certain I’ve eaten Bok Choy out in restaurants but had never bought or prepared it.

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I must say Baby Bok Choy is adorable.  It also cooks super fast and cooks down quite a bit.    I tend to love stir-fries because of the variety of colors and textures the different vegetables bring to the dish.  I also happen to have some colored bell peppers that needed to be used so I added some additional veg though the recipe only called for Bok Choy.  Since the other veggies required more cooking time, I cooked them first separately then removed them from the pan and followed the Bok Choy recipe as written before adding the other vegetables back in the end.  Super easy and delicious!

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New Recipes Made This Week: 3

New Recipe Tally 2013: 74

 

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Week 25: Bursting with Berries Bliss

Summer solstice, super moon…it’s a wonderful week to enjoy the universe.  One of my closest and oldest friends was married on Friday in our hometown.  It was an absolutely beautiful day and such a wonderful time back home visiting family and seeing old friends at the wedding.

Wedding 079Since I was in the wedding I traveled back to New York on Thursday to get ready for the festivities and go to the rehearsal dinner.  Being only home three days this week (and busy getting ready at that) I didn’t do much cooking last weekend.  When I returned home yesterday I decided a sweet treat was in order to finish out the week.

I decided on Bursting with Berries Cobbler from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook.  The recipe is two steps.  First cook up the berries of your choosing (I used blackberries, blueberries and strawberries) in the oven then add the biscuit topping and cook a bit longer.  It was more natural than intended as I didn’t realize that my applesauce had some moldy friends until I went to use it for the topping while the berries were already cooking; it has apparently been far too long since I’ve made myself a sweet treat.  Luckily, I had some apples on hand and quickly diced one up to make some very fast applesauce.  I also made my own oat flour, but this simply involves pulsing oats in the food processor so no credit for effort there.

This recipe is wonderful and definitely satisfies a sweet craving.  I was amazed how good the cobbler topping was without any butter or shortening to make a crumble.  Simply applesauce and some almond butter mix with the oats and almond milk to make a crumble.  A sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top and it tastes just like a full fat, butter rich crumble.

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Now to go test how it reheats 😉

New Recipes Made This Week: 1

New Recipe Tally 2013: 71

 

 

Week 24: Easy Peasy Plant Based

I don’t like labels, they’re so confining! Publicly, the simplest is to declare myself vegan so as to avoid receiving an unrecognizable vegetable smothered (or stuffed) in cheese as my alternative meal. Realistically, I am not 100% vegan (though I do not eat cheese, mainly because I do not and never have liked it *gasp*). I strive towards a mostly whole food plant based diet and when I began this journey I did not want to transition from a highly processed omnivore diet to a highly processed vegan diet. I’d say I’m about 80-85% there.

What this means is that when one travels abroad on business for a week, one returns to a very barren refrigerator. Whole foods go bad (warning, the more whole foods you eat the more appalled you become by the shelf life of some processed foods). When I returned from Germany last weekend there were limited ingredients to work with in the kitchen. After unpacking, laundry, bills, and tending to the yard while adjusting to the timezone change, meal planning and food shopping was not going to happen. However, I always have an assortment of canned beans, canned tomatoes and dry pasta to work with.

Taking the pantry situation into consideration, this week’s new recipe was Happy Herbivore Quick & Easy Black Bean Burgers. The recipe is from Everyday Happy Herbivore and lucky for you it is also online! These really are quick and easy, and the limited ingredients make them even better. I was in and out of the grocery in no time and only bought some toppings and bread.

The recipe seemed pretty basic to me so I decided to add some flare and attempt a southwest burger. To add some southwest flavors I added sriracha, cumin, coriander, cooked corn and fresh cilantro (leftover from chickpea tacos of course;). Sorry no measurements, just a dash of this and a touch of that. I topped my burgers with fresh tomato, romaine lettuce, thinly sliced red onion, a bit more fresh cilantro and avocado slices.

These were awesome! Even better re-heated in the oven the next day when the texture firms up a bit more. No more Morning Star Black Bean Burgers for me! There’s no excuse for that anymore.

EHH Quick Black Bean Burgers

New Recipes Made This Week: 1

New Recipe Tally 2013: 70

Week 23: Vegetarier in Deutschland

There was no new recipe this week.  In fact, there was practically no cooking at all.  Last Saturday I began my first European Adventure!  It is not as exciting as it sounds considering it was for business but I did get to take a trip to Ulm, Germany.  I found it very difficult to be vegetarian in Germany; at least in Ulm, Germany.  While many restaurants had at least one vegetarian option they often had cheese or some kind of cream sauce.

I admit I am not exactly a world traveler and the language barrier also complicated matters.  A further complication was the business factor; most dinners were team dinners after long days of work meetings and the restaurants were pre-selected to give a true German experience to the visiting colleagues.  This limited my ability to research restaurants and plan my trip with dietary restrictions in mind.

Upon arrival my North American colleagues and I ate at an Italian restaurant in the town (I have wonderful colleagues who were very intent on finding someplace I would be able to eat); I had a lovely penne arrabiata.  A few more local successes included a dish of assorted vegetarian cakes at Drei Kannen

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and an asparagus pesto penne at Ratskeller.  It did have some shaved parmesan but I was so hungry I went with it.  The asparagus was a bit different than I’m used to in the US.  It was much thicker and seemed to have a bit less flavor.

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It was a long week and an exhausting trip but Ulm is a beautiful area if you ever happen to be on a journey through Germany.

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New Recipes Made This Week: 0

New Recipe Tally 2013: 69