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

Delicious Potato Leek Soup

It is starting to feel like fall in LA…. kind of. With fall brings one of my favorite things to make, Potato Leek Soup! Creamy and delicious, this dish is sure to keep you warm on chilly nights. This is for a large batch of soup, you can have a soup party or freeze it for later. Serve with a salad, tea sandwich, panini, or just on it’s own! ENJOY

You will need:

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8 Peel Russet Potatoes

5 Large Leeks Whites Only

3 Celery Stalks

2 Tablespoons of Butter

10 Cups Vegetable Stock

1 Bay Leave

2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme

Salt

Fresh Ground Pepper

Parsley

1 Cup Heavy Cream

Chop green section and tip off leeks, wash thoroughly and dry. Cut in half the long way and then slice in 1/2 inch pieces (does not have to be exact). Wash and chop celery. Peel and chop potatoes into medium sized chunks.

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Put Large Stockpot on medium heat, add butter, once melted put leeks in pot with a dash of salt. Sweat the leeks for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat down to medium low and cook leeks for 25 minutes until tender.
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Add the vegetable broth, potatoes, and bay leaf. Chop the thyme and add it. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes. Check to see if potatoes are soft, if they are you are ready for the next step. Place half of the soup in a large mixing bowl or pitcher and the other half into a large blender. Blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Pour back into Stockpot and then blend the other half. Once all the soup is nice and cream and the cup of heavy cream. Stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste.                    IMG_6514-2IMG_6513-2

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Serve healthy bowlfuls with a handful of chopped parsley on top and voila, amazing potato leek soup.

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Disclaimer: You will want seconds.

Recipe inspired by Alton Brown and Robert Irvine.

Holy Guacamole!

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One of my favorite foods is guacamole. There is nothing better than a salty crunchy tortilla chip dipped in a bowl full of chunky, tangy, rich guacamole. My guacamole recipe has been evolving since I was a small child. My mom’s recipe called for smashed avocados mixed with several heaping spoonfuls of fresh salsa. This was one of my favorite after school snacks. In college, I began to chop onion and jalapeño and add it to this recipe. As my taste buds matured and my chopping skills improved I learned a new way to make guacamole.

I call it Chop Til You Drop Guacamole

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4 Avocados Peeled, Pitted and Halved

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Clove Garlic, Minced

1/2 Cup chopped Cilantro

1/4 Cup Chopped Red Onion

2 Medium sized tomatos, de-seeded and finely chopped

1/2-1 Jalapeño finely diced

1 Teaspoon Salt

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Place avocado halves in a medium sized bowl, pour the juice of 1 lemon over the avocado to keep fresh. Chop all the other ingredients. Place ingredients in bowl with avocados. Use a small sharp knife to slice avocados and ingredients together. This keeps the guacamole chunky and beautiful. Enjoy with chips, tacos, or just eat it with a spoon!

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Yammy Baby Kale Salad with Herb Honey Dijon Dressing

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You will need:

1 large yam (Peeled, Cubed, and Roasted with Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper and Rosemary- baked for 20-30 mins at 400 til soft)
2-3 Cups Baby Kale
1/2 Avocado- Cubed
1/4 dried cranberries
1/4 chopped Sweet/spicy pecans fom TJs (I use these in so many of my salads, because they add the perfect punch!)
Shaved Parmesan To taste

Massage Baby Kale with Dressing and pinch of salt and pepper. Toss together remaining ingredients.

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Serve with soup or cheese and crackers and enjoy!!

For the Dressing (Not sure about exact measurements but try the following)
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 Tablespoon Honey
Salt and Pepper
1 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary- finely chopped
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme- finely chopped

Whisk Together and add olive oil or balsamic vinegar as needed to balance acidity. (I usually put mine in a mason jar and shake it up… great for storage and limited mess).

Eazy Peazy Banana Berry Smoothie

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Here is the recipe for a simple and delicious smoothie, full of protein, anti oxidant rich berries and potassium from bananas:

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1 Organic Banana

1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt

1 Cup Mixed Frozen Berries

2 Cups Coconut Water

Feel free to add frozen pineapple or mango, your favorite protein powder, or flax seeds to spice it up.

Blend until smooth and Enjoy!!!

I recommend finding some fun straws to make your smoothie fun!

 

Spicy Chili and Gluten Free Cornbread

Caliente Chili!

Delicious recipe for a hearty, spicy three bean Chili flush with vegetarian protein! I made up this recipe with the help of fellow vegetarian, my mom!

2 T Olive Oil

1 Yellow Onion, Chopped

1 Carrot, Chopped

2 Celery Stalks, Chopped

2 Bell Peppers (Red, Yellow or Orange), Chopped

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 (28 oz) Can Diced Tomato

2 ears of Corn-Kernels only (or 1 can of corn)

2 Cans Black Beans

1 Can Kidney Beans

1 Can White Beans

1 T dried Oregano

1 T Chipotle Peppers in Adobo, chopped (Add more to add Heat)

2 t Ground Cumin

2 T Barbecue Sauce

1 Shot Espresso

1 1/2 T Chili Powder

1  T Salt

Heat Olive Oil in a Large pot. Sautee onion, celery, carrot, bell peppers, and garlic until soft. Add Canned tomatoes, spices, beans and corn. Simmer for at least 1 hour, chili should thicken and ingredients should cook down. Stir occasionally. Add more spice and seasoning to taste.  Serve with Pamela’s Gluten Free Cornbread (mix can be found at Whole Foods). ENJOY!!!

 

Mushroom Lettuce Wraps

My friend Jake is an excellent cook, fortunately for me he is always very considerate of my vegetarian lifestyle. This summer his specialty has been Ground Chicken Lettuce Wraps, but when I came over for dinner he made a vegetarian version, Mushroom Lettuce Wraps! So delicious and full of flavor; I had to recreate them at home. Now they have become a favorite in my home as well!

Mushrooms are a perfect substitute for meat, because they are very susceptible to flavoring and when you cook them down they have a hardy, almost meaty texture.

Remember that when cooking mushrooms, it is important to wash them well, and that the mushrooms cook down a lot! Meaning that 2 baskets of mushrooms can only feed about 2 people.

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Mushroom Lettuce Wraps A La Chef Jake 

2 Baskets of Mushrooms (Cremini, button, portabello, whatever’s clever)-finely chopped

1/4 Inch of Ginger- Grated

1 T Coconut Oil

1 Clove Garlic-minced

1/2 red or white onion- finely chopped

1/2 Can water chestnuts-chopped (Optional)

1 T Sambal (Asian Garlic-Chili sauce) (to taste, depending on desired heat level)

1 Head of Butter Lettuce

1/4 Chopped Cilantro- for condiment

1 Sliced Avocado- for condiment

In Large Skillet, Sautee Onion and garlic in 1/2 T of Coconut Oil, once soft(About 10 minutes) add rest of Coconut oil, ginger, mushrooms, water chestnuts. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until all moisture is out of mushrooms, add Sambal to taste. Let Cool, Assemble as if making a taco, where the butter lettuce leaf is the tortilla and the mushroom the filling! Add Avocado and cilantro for extra flavor.  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Friendly Sushi Spots and Oishii Vegetable Miso Soup

As a vegetarian, good sushi is hard to come by. There are always the staple vegetarian rolls; Vegetable Roll, Avocado Roll and Cucumber Roll, but after awhile they are rather boring, so when I go to a sushi spot that puts more thought into the vegetarian dishes, I’m always overjoyed!  Many non vegetarians think that Sushi restaurants have nothing to offer vegetarians, however Japanese is one of my favorite cuisines. My go to items at Sushi restaurants are the side salad, usually coming with delicious gingery dressing, an avocado roll and Shishito Peppers (hold the Bonito aka fish flakes). The following are three of my favorite vegetarian friendly Sushi Spots in Los Angeles:

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Wabi-Sabi on Venice’s Abbot Kinney has amazing side dishes such as pan fried sweet miso eggplant, chili garlic edamame, and kale salad. Of course they offer the  signature vegetarian sushi: vegetable and cucumber rolls. In my eyes the star Wabi-Sabi dish is the huge Vegan Mushroom Miso soup with Tofu, vegetables sautéed in spicy garlic black bean paste and last but not least delicious cubes of crispy rice. This dish is enough to feed a small family, but you’ll find it hard to share. It is so delicious, rich and versatile that it is hard to stop eating. It is a must for vegetarians and vegans alike.  If you’re hungry for something sweet- the green tea creme brûlée is to die for.

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The Izaka-ya in Manhattan Beach or on Third Street in West Hollywood have such high quality sushi rice that their simple Avocado Roll is absolutely delightful. They have a tapas menu, full of ornate and delicious small plates; such as the kinpira lotus root, agedashi tofu, shishito peppers, sauteed pumpkin, cucumber salad, etc.  The best vegetarian item on the Menu is the Tofu Chample; perfectly cooked vegetables with delicious soft tofu. I thoroughly recommend this spot! Not to mention my boyfriend claims it has the best (fish) sushi in LA!

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Last but not least is Shikibu, a restaurant practicing macrobiotic rules by solely using Brown Rice for sushi. Shikibu has simple sushi for vegetarians, including Carrot Kimpira, mixed vegetable and avocado rolls. They have a delicious carrot ginger dressing which can be found on the Tofu Salad, a crisp simple salad with delicious slabs of fresh tofu. The shining star at Shikibu is the Crispy Rice with Carrot Kimpira, it is crunchy, spicy, and has a tiny homemade pickle on top…. Perfection… OISHII DESU!!!

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I was inspired by Wabi-Sabi’s vegan Miso soup. So I created my own:

Oishii Vegetable Miso Soup

2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil

4 cloves garlic- sliced

2 cubes marinated tofu-chopped into small squares

1 inch piece of ginger minced

1/2 yellow onion- chopped

1 cob corn- chopped of cob

1/2 zucchini- quartered rounds

3/4 Cup Miso

12 Cups Water

2 dozen green beans- chopped in thirds

Handfull of mixed mushrooms- sliced

1/2 Head of green Cabbage- chopped

3 carrots- peeled and cut in small rounds

Splash of Soy Sauce

1.Heat Big Soup pot, add Toasted Sesame Oil

2. Sautee Onions, Ginger, Garlic, Tofu until onion is soft (about 5 minutes)

3. Add water, miso, and chopped vegetables

4. Taste for flavor– add splash of soy sauce if necessary.

5. Let Soup come to a boil, turn down to simmer for 35-50 minutes (until carrots are soft)

6. Enjoy!!

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Kale Sweet Kale

Fresh, delicious, filling, versatile. Kale.

Tender Greens is a great Mini Chain Restaurant in Southern California. They serve organic gourmet food in a production line style.

My Personal Favorite dishes at Tender Greens are the Simple Kale Salad w/ Roasted Vegetables with a side of Mashed Potatoes or the Tomato Soup.  The Kale is tossed with a Parmesan and Lemon Garlic dressing, emulating a caesar dressing. The Roasted Vegetables are a medley of seasonal vegetable. The mashed potatoes are something special, so delicious, unforgettable.

This week I played with Vegan Recipes, focusing on fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market and lean vegan proteins.  Last night for a dinner party, I prepared the vegetables and Tofu and let my friends bring their own Chicken to grill.  That way everyone is happy, the Vegetarian doesn’t have to touch or attempt to cook meat and the meat eaters are able to properly cook their meat!! (I’m learning to expand me knowledge of cooking meat, but not quite there yet!) Please enjoy recipes for last night’s Flexitarian Meal!!

Chopped Kale Salad, Zesty Roasted Brocoli, and Grilled Tofu

Chopped Kale Salad, Zesty Roasted Brocoli, and Grilled Tofu

           Chopped Kale Salad

            Ingredients

           1 large bunch of Curly Kale or Dino Kale

           1 Ripe Avocado-Cubed

           8-10 Baby Tomatoes (Make sure they are sweet and delicious)- Quartered

          1/4 of a Red Onion- Finally Diced

          1/4 Cup Hazelnuts- Diced

          1/4 Parmesan (Optional for non-vegans)

          1 Lemon-Juiced

          1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

          2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

          Salt and Pepper

Rinse and Dry Kale. Cut the Stalk out of each leaf. Julienne cut the Kale (the finer the pieces the more it’s able to moisten and break down).

Place Kale in Large bowl, add lemon, Soy Sauce, Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper.  Massage liquids into to Kale using your hands.  Massaging the kale will make it more tender and flavorful. At this point you can store kale in the refrigerator  for up to 5 days, adding vegetables for a salad or mixing w Eggs, adding to stir fries, there are endless uses for Kale, especially when it is pre-prepped.

For this salad, the next step is to add all the chopped vegetables and nuts and toss. Enjoy!

Zesty Roasted Brocoli

Ingredients

1-2 Heads of Broccoli

2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Pinch of Chili Flakes

1 Lemon- Juiced

Pinch of Chili Flakes

2 Tablespoons Roasted Pine nuts

Salt and Pepper

Preheat Oven to 425.

Chop florets off the stem, cut the large florets in half.

Toss with Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, Pinch of Chili Flakes

Even Place on Baking/Roasting sheet

Roast for Approximately 20 Minutes-or until Broccoli is Crispy on the outside

Grilled Tofu or Chicken

1 Cube Marinated Tofu (preferably Trader Joes Savory)

Your Favorite Marinade

Marinate and Grill it up!!!

Hope you enjoy this Delicious Flexitarian Menu!

Avocado Toast and Eveleigh

Since having a quick 18-month vegan stint I have a special place in my heart for Avocado toast. Perfectly filling, naturally delicious and easy to make! When I spot avocado toast on a menu, I know the chef has a soft spot in their heart for Vegans and Vegetarians…. I always try it.

Deep in the heart of the Hollywood Hills, on the Sunset Strip there is a charming spot called Eveleigh. At night time, you can find tasty small plates, hand crafted cocktails, beautiful people, ….. but for me Eveleigh is all about the beautiful, breezy Brunch with a view. There are not too many vegetarian-friendly items on the menu, and the egg dishes didn’t overwhelm my taste buds, but all was redeemed with a side of their Avocado Toast and French press coffee. Check them out…. http://www.theeveleigh.com

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Recently I concocted a very special Avocado toast worth sharing:

Chili Basil Avocado Toast or AAA(Alisha’s Awesome Avocado Toast)

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Toast 3 Slices hearty bread (Udi’s Gluten free bread is a great alternative)

Slice 2 Ripe avocados and spread onto the toast

Chop up a handful of fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle basil onto toast

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon chili flakes over toast

Place 6-7 Roasted Pepitas(Pumpkin Seeds) on each toast

Drizzle high quality Olive Oil

Grind salt and pepper over toasts and you are ready to enjoy!!!