Curry Lentils with Red Pepper Chipotle Cream

IMG_0155I am a recent convert to Indian Food, the spices and the heat paired with rice and naan are so delicious. This was my first time trying to recreate the Indian staple, Dahl, meaning lentils. The delicious dish is usually spiced with curry, cumin and a mix of Indian spices. For my first time making lentils, I had a specific flavor profile in mind, all the recipes I looked at didn’t sound quite right, so I did one of my trademark experiments. Of course I looked up lentils to liquid ratio, but the rest was a culinary adventure! I am so happy it turned out so I could share it with you! Lentils are an amazing source of plant based protein, packing a whopping 17 grams in a cup of cooked lentils. They are also a great source of calcium, Iron, Thiamin, Folate and more. Enjoy this hearty, spiced lentil recipe!
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Ingredients

1-2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil

1 Onion, diced

2 small stalks Celery, chopped

2 small Carrots, chopped

2 cloves Garlic, chopped 

1 chili pepper, finely chopped (optional)

2 cups green lentils (red or black will work as well)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon Turmeric

2 teaspoons Curry Powder

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon paprika

4-5 Sprays of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

32 ounces Low Sodium Vegetable Stock

1 Cup Water

Salt and Pepper to taste

BBQ Sauce (optional)

IMG_0142In large pot heat coconut oil on medium, chop onions and garlic, place in pot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes, in the mean time chop celery, carrots and chili pepper. Add the celery, carrot and chili into pot, season with salt and pepper and sauté until vegetables are tender, 5-7 minutes.
Once vegetables are ready, mix in tomato paste, mix well. Next, mix in lentils and season with turmeric, curry powder, ground ginger, paprika, Bragg’s liquid amino, and salt and pepper. Mix well and let seasoning absorb into the lentils by stirring over medium to high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add vegetable stock and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour and a half. Stir and test every half hour. After an hour give the lentils a taste test, if it needs more curry or seasoning go ahead and add a little more, just remember if there is still liquid in the pot, the lentils are still absorbing the flavor. Once complete, serve plain or with rice, with avocado as garnish or yogurt sauce. Enjoy this hearty, fall dish!

Red Pepper Chipotle Cream

1/2 Cup Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 red bell pepper

2 teaspoons chipotle seasoning 

Juice of one lime

1/4 teaspoon lime zest

1/2 teaspoon honeyScreen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.22.48 PMIn a small sauté pan, heat olive oil, chop bell pepper and sauté until soft and beginning to brown.Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.15.14 PMIn a small bowl, mix yogurt with honey and juicy of a lime. Using a micro plane or grader, zest a half a lime. Add more zest as you desire.IMG_0149 Once bell peppers are soft place in a high powered blender and liquefy (or as I like to say saucify). Place red pepper sauce into a cup or covered tupperware and place into large bowl with ice water, or make ahead of time. Once the mixture is at room temperature mix it into the yogurt base.Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 1.24.41 PM Add more seasoning if needed. Add a dollop of the cream onto your lentils and voila, a beautifully tangy, sweet compliment to the spiced lentils.  You can use this sauce for an aioli replacement on burgers or sandwiches, on top of chili or in tacos! Get creative and enjoy the process. Happy cooking and eating to you!IMG_0152

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South West Tofu Scramble

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Breakfast food is a tough one for the vegans of the world or egg-phobic vegetarians such as myself.  Everything is eggy or meaty… and usually pretty heavy. After years of going to restaurants and eating sub-par tofu scrambles with extra cumin I decided to try my hand at making a new and improved Tofu Scramble. The result was a delicious, vegetable laden scramble! No more hollandaise or yolks needed!

Tofu Scramble is easy to make! Start with several vegetables, whatever is fresh and in season. I used a yellow onion, kale, tomatoes as well as home grown eggplant and peppers. Get creative and enjoy the process!

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1 Cube Organic Firm Tofu

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 Tablespoon Coconut oil

1 White or Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

1 Small Chinese eggplant, cubed

1 Sweet Pepper, sliced

1 Yellow Pepper, sliced

1-2 Cups Kale, washed and chopped

1 Cup baby tomatoes, halved

Spices are added to taste- measurements below are estimates

1/2 Teas Smoked paprika

Pinch of Cayenne

1 Teaspoon Chipotle Seasoning

5-6 Sprays of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1/2 Teaspoon onion powder

Pinch of Sea Salt

1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast

Begin by heating olive oil in skillet, preferably cast iron. Thinly slice onion and peppers, place in pan and begin to sauté. Once the onions and peppers soften, add the eggplant.  Try to keep the vegetables in their own section of the pan, so you can observe and control the cooking process.  Add some coconut oil to the eggplant and a little to the peppers and onions for flavor and to help brown them.

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Once eggplant is tender and slightly browned add Kale, cover with lid for 3-5 minutes or until Kale has been slightly steamed. No need to over steam the kale, because it will continue to cook in the scramble.

Mix vegetables together and move to one side of the pan. Add a splash of olive oil to the pan and place halved tomatoes face down. Cook for about 3-5 minutes or until tomatoes are softened. Mix the vegetables together and add a pinch of salt and a spritz of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.

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Drain Tofu and Crumble over vegetables with your hands, breaking up any large clumps.

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Before mixing tofu into vegetables, season well. Add Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, Smoked Paprika, Salt, Chiptole Seasoning, and small pinch of Cayenne. Integrate Tofu into vegetables using large spoon or spatula. Cover and let cook on low for 8-10 Minutes. The longer you simmer the tofu with the vegetables the more flavorful the scramble will be. Add nutritional yeast and give the scramble a taste test. Add more Cayenne if you would like it to be spicier, a drizzle of honey can bring out the flavors, but not mandatory. Et Voila, your South West Tofu Scramble is ready to serve!

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Serve with Avocado, salsa, Chips or tortillas. Enjoy!


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Roasted Nuts and Olives

I live in Playa Del Rey, a small beach community on the edge of Los Angeles. My husband and I love our town and the little gems in it. One of our favorite places is called The Tripel, started by Brooke and Nick Roberts, it is an amazing gastro pub with a friendly vibe and delicious food. Being a vegan, the menu is not so friendly, but it’s ok, because my favorite snack is their Nuts and Olives. A mixed bowl of juicy olives, roasted nuts, dried cherries, and some fresh parsley. Often times I will get two orders because they are so tasty, packed with zesty protein! Recently I recreated this delicious appetizer.  It was so tasty and very easy! Luckily for the Tripel, we will keep coming back because my husband is hooked on their Squid Ink Spaghetti, Chicken Waterzooi and great craft beer selection (and their self titled burger).

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What you will need:

1/4 lb Raw Cashews

1/4 lb Raw Almonds

2-3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 Sprigs Rosemary

Sea Salt

1/4 lb dried sour cherries

1 jar pitted Kalamata Olives

1 can pitted green olives (mild)

1 Cup fresh pitted green olives (tangy)- Found in Olive Bar

Handful of chopped Parsley

1 Lemon

Heat oven to 350 Degrees. In a bowl, mix together Cashews and Almonds with 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper (or tin foil).                                                                                Spread nuts out into one layer on baking sheet.

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IMG_0086Sprinkle with salt. Strip leaves off of 2 sprigs of Rosemary and place evenly throughout nuts. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking to ensure the nuts do not over cook.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl mix olives, cherries, and chopped parsley together. I usually save 1 or 2 tablespoons of Kalamata Olive juice for the marinade. Add 1 Tablespoon of Olive oil and the juice of one lemon. Add a pinch of course sea salt.

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When the nuts are roasted to perfection, toss in with olive mixture and voila, delicious Nuts and Olives.

Enjoy as a snack, appetizer, meal accompaniment, or perfect potluck dish.     IMG_0087

Fresh Spring Rolls with Tofu and Peanut Sauce

In the heart of this mildly cold winter in LA, it is nice to be able to hunker down and make a nice home cooked meal. There are always delicious take out or delivery options for Thai food or Chinese food, but I prefer to recreate my favorite dishes using healthy, fresh ingredients. Restaurant food always uses an excess of salt, sugar and oil in their food. I try to cook with healthy oils like Coconut Oil, Organic Sesame Oil or Organic Olive oil and I use Tamari instead of sodium ladened Soy Sauce. Tonight I am making Paul’s favorite, Fresh Spring Rolls with Tofu and Peanut sauce, to go along with my standard stir fry vegetables and quinoa. You can find the recipes for the Stir Fried(Steamed) Vegetables and Peanut Sauce on my most recent post.
You will need to go to the grocery Store to pick up a few special ingredients for this including Spring Roll Skins(found in a clear plastic, frisbee like container), Rice Stick noodles (I used Maifun brand), and some kind of marinated pressed tofu (I used Wildwood Teriyaki flavor). Other than these three, the rest of the ingredients are pretty straight forward.

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You will need:

1 Pack Spring Roll Skins- Use however many you desire
1 Package Rice Stick Noodles
1 Package Pressed, Marinated Tofu- Cut in long slender rectangles.
1/2 Cup Cilantro
2 Carrots Carrots (Grated)
3 Scallions- Cut in strips the long way
Handful of Mint Leaves
Handful of Basil(preferably Thai Basil, can be found at Asian grocery stores)
1 Cup Mung Bean Sprouts
1 Cup Butter Lettuce or Romaine- Washed and Dried
Optional- Serrano Pepper sliced thinly without seeds (I didn’t use peppers, because my Peanut Sauce was extra spicy)

Measurements are dependent on how many rolls you are making and how thick you want them. Prepare all your fixings and place in individual bowls, easy for grabbing and placing on your spring roll.

First you will want to prepare your noodles, simply follow the instructions and let cool for a few minutes.

Next, make sure you have a good, clean area to work. Clear off counter space and place all your bowls filled with fixings close together.

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IMG_0051IMG_0055 IMG_0061 IMG_0058For the Spring Roll skins you will need a deep plate or serving dish, just deep enough for a small amount of water. Get a clean, dry dish towel and place it on the counter near your fixings. Warm some water, place on plate, take one skin and submerge it with your hands, make sure all the surface area is under water. Hold under for approximately 10-15 seconds. The skin will become extremely malleable and completely translucent. Pick it up with two hands and lay it flat on to the dry dish towel. Smooth out any wrinkles and voila you are ready to roll.

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There is no perfect way to fill a spring roll. If you are a big fan of basil, load it on, if you hate sprouts, leave them out, if you are an uber healthy no carb fiend, the leave the noodles off (although I don’t recommend that because they are delicious). Just start with a fixing and start piling it in, just remember that the skins are fragile so you can’t pack too much in.

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Once you have filled your roll, very gentle mash all the ingredients with your thumb and other fingers. Take one side of the skin and roll away, while pushing the filling in simultaneously, think rolling a burrito, enchilada or Bouche De Noel.

Slice in half, serve with Peanut Sauce or your favorite dipping sauce. I always put out the Sambal (Chili Sauce) just in case anyone wants an extra kick. This is an excellent appetizer or entree lunch. Enjoy!

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Our delicious Asian Feast, complete with Asian Bowls (Quinoa, stir fried vegetables and Spring Roll Fixings) and one of my favorite green teas, UCC! Such a delicious, satisfying and healthy Vegan meal.

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Green Pineapple Machine Smoothie

I usually make smoothies with berries, bananas, yogurt, and coconut water, but realize there is too much sugar and carbohydrates for it to be a truly healthy meal replacement. This morning I tried making my first green smoothie and it was a huge success. It was even man approved by my new husband! We have been married for three weeks, not only did he get to marry my happy, positive self, he has gotten the benefits of being the tester for all my kitchen experiments! For our wedding we received a Vitamix, yay! It is a life-changing high power industrial blender that makes creating in the kitchen so much easier and quieter for that matter.

Ingredients

For the Green Pineapple Machine smoothie, you will need:

1 banana-preferably frozen and ripe for sweetness

3/4 Cup Frozen Pineapple Chunks

1 1/2 Cups Washed raw Spinach

1 1/2 Cups Washed raw, de-stemmed Kale

1/3 Cup Greek Yogurt (I use 2% or Whole Fat Fage) for a protein, probiotic boost

1 1/2 Cups cold Coconut Water

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth. If the Pineapple and banana did not make it slushy enough, add a cup of ice.

Make sure to blend the ice until smooth or else your smoothie will be chunky and let’s face it, it’s called a smoothie for a reason.

Pour into a tall glass and enjoy- preferably with a cute straw!

Green Pineapple Machine

Huevos Ala Mexicana

Thanks to my Fiance, I have been converted to a breakfast person! As a vegetarian, I get a little creeped out by eggs, but as long as I know the chickens were happy and cage free I can definitely get behind all the glorious egg dishes out there.
One of my favorite restaurants for breakfast is Señor G’s, a charming little spot a few blocks from my house in Playa Del Rey. They make delicious omelets, huevos rancheros, and an assortment of fresh juices and smoothies. My favorite dish they have is Breakfast Ole, a plate full of tomato and oniony scrambled goodness. I re-created the dish at home calling it Huevos Ala Mexicana or Mexican Eggs.

Huevos

2 Tablespoons olive oil (use butter for a richer flavor)

4 organic eggs

1 Tablespoon of Milk or Water

1 onion diced

1 tomato(heirloom Preferred) diced

1 can Organic Black Beans

1 Avocado slices

Salt and Pepper

Several Sprigs of Cilantro for garnish

Beat eggs in a medium bowl, stir in milk, salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in large pan. When oil is glistening (2 minutes) toss in onion.

Sauté onion until clear and slightly browned (8-10 Minutes).

Toss in Chopped Tomato and saute for another 5 minutes.

Pour egg mixture over vegetables. Stir periodically until eggs are fully scrambled.

Serve with black beans, sliced avocado and Tapatillo.

To make breakfast tacos, simply heat up several corn tortillas and fill them with Huevos.

Enjoy this protein packed breakfast!

Summer Cheese Plate

Mid Summer’s Night Cheese Plate

 Summer marks a wonderful time of year for farmers and diners alike. Nature provides an abundance of delicious fruits and vegetables for us to enjoy. What goes better with fruits and vegetable you may ask, but of course, cheese! Sliced, cubed, smeared… cheese is delightful. Cheese is my reason for not being vegan. Explore new cheese, go blue, go hard, go French! Enjoy your cheese with vegetables, fruit, crackers, bread. Arrange neatly and carefully. Presentation pays off.

Appetizers

For this mid summer’s night cheese plate I chose two cheeses; Humboldt Fog Chèvre and mozzarella balls. I spread the Humboldt fog on some Crunch Masters Gluten Free Crackers and put a dollop of Blackberry Sweet Heat Jelly on top.  Both Humboldt Fog and Sweet Heat are local products from my hometown of Arcata, California. Find a friend who lives there and have them send you Sweet Heat, it’s the most delicious condiment with so many uses; toast, meat/tofu marinade, served over cheese or yogurt, the possibilities are infinite!

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Mini Caprese Skewers. Very easy and oh so elegant. Simply skewer a cherry tomato, mozzarella ball and basil leaf with a toothpick. Repeat. Arrange so they look pretty and then drizzle with balsamic glaze.

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I sliced fresh, ripe figs in half and laid them in the middle of the plate. They are delicious on their own, but also divine added to the Humboldt Fog Crackers.

For a punch of protein I served green hummus and regular organic hummus with rosemary crisps and more Crunch masters. Hummus is a great addition to any meal, packing protein and flavor into every bite.

The moral of this story is there is no wrong way to make a cheese plate, even if you hold the cheese and just chop of vegetables and add dip, it’s all about getting creative and making the food into art. There is something delightful about arranged food that will make your taste buds happy and communal food is a lovely way to chat and socialize with friends and family.

Happy Summer!