Category Archives: Vegan

Peanut Butter Fruit Smoothie

This is my favorite basic standby breakfast smoothie – and its ridiculously filling.  I use crunchy peanut butter because the little peanut chunks give the smoothie a delicious peanut-y texture.  Substituting dairy for almond milk will make the drink fluffier.  My roommate recently taught me the Cuban method for creating a super-fluffy smoothie by adding trigo (puffed wheat) – It’s awesome if you are looking to experiment with smoothie ideas.  Boris (my quaker parrot) loves it too!

This recipe serves 2, and makes about 16 oz.  It stores pretty well in the fridge for a couple of hours, too – but I probably wouldn’t push it past a day.

INGREDIENTS:
1 orange, peeled and sectioned
1 ripe banana, peeled
3/4 C frozen blueberries (or any frozen fruit)
4 T flax meal
4 T crunchy peanut butter (or your choice of nut butter)
1/2-3/4 C almond milk

DIRECTIONS:
Toss everything except milk into food processor and turn on; through the feeder tube, slowly add 1/2 C almond milk, or more, until smoothie reaches desired consistency.  Pour into two cups, and serve.


This recipe serves 2, and makes about 16 oz.  It stores pretty well in the fridge for a couple of hours, too – but I probably wouldn’t push it past a day.

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Dolmades

I live in a primarily Greek neighborhood in NYC, and I can get fresh Dolmades pretty much whenever I want, but since I just moved 12 blocks (and 2 Avenues) away from my absolute favorite place to eat, Opa!, I’ve been eating stuffed grape leaves out of a can for lunch all week–but shockingly, the canned version is just not as good as the freshly prepared ones.  This is my favorite recipe.  I also mixed together some Tzatziki yogurt sauce to go along with my meal–even though traditional dolmades are usually served with lemon slices.  These are great with lemon-roasted potatoes or a nice Greek salad with a hunk of fresh feta.

INGREDIENTS:
2 T extra virgin olive oil
half a finely chopped onion
½ tsp grated lemon zest
¼ C pine nuts
pinch of cinnamon
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ C brown or wild rice, cooked
1 ½  C vegetable stock
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley
1 T finely chopped fresh dill
20 grape leaves (I use jarred)
1/2 lemon, for juice

DIRECTIONS:
Heat olive oil in saucepan.  Add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add lemon zest, pine nuts, salt, pepper, rice, and 1/2 C vegetable stock.  Stir and cover.  Cook for 10 minutes.

While filling is cooking, remove grape leaves from jar and rinse in a colander.  There is usually a pretty brine-y smell that can carry over to the final product if the leaves aren’t rinsed, so this step is especially important.  I just set them in room temperature water and slosh around a bit with my hands.  Than I transfer to a colander and give a rinse with cold water to finalize things.  If there are stems on the end, now is also a good time to trim them off with scissors or a paring knife.

When the filling is finished cooking stir in chopped parsley and dill.  Now you will fill and wrap the leaves.

Place one grape leaf, seam side up, on a plate or cutting board.  Spoon in a heaping Tablespoon of filling onto the lower 1/2 of the leaf.  Wrap the bottom of the leaf over the filling, tuck in the sides, and roll until closed tightly in a neat little envelope!  Since the rice is already cooked, you don’t have to worry about the dolmades expanding during the final step, so be sure to wrap tightly.

Pack dolmades into a saucepan.  Add 1 C vegetable broth, 1 T olive oil, and juice from 1/2 a lemon  Be sure the dolmades are packed tightly, because as the broth boils the steam will encourage those little guys to unwrap–I try to use the smallest saucepan I can possibly squeeze them in, without having to stack.

Cover the pan and simmer on low until liquid cooks down completely–usually about 20-40 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool for 10 minutes. Enjoy immediately–OR–chill in refrigerator for up to 2 days.  Serve with Tzatziki dressing and fresh lemon slices.

Adapted from The Mediterrasian Way.

Avocado on Toast

Avocado on toast is supremely satisfying (and filling) and can be eaten for any meal, although my favorite time of day to eat it is for breakfast.  Sometimes I add a fried egg underneath the avo if I know I’ll be having a late lunch.  A squeeze of lime on top is also nice if you have it on hand.  Try it on Buttery Beer Bread–you won’t be sorry!

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 ripe avocado
1 slice bread
olive oil, to grill bread
sea salt, to taste
fresh lime juice, to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan.   Add bread to pan, and toast in the oil until both sides reach a golden-brown consistency.

Remove bread from pan and place on plate.  Scoop avocado onto to fresh toast and sea salt to taste!  Add a little lime juice to enhance the sweetness.

Tostones

The ripeness and color of any plantain you choose at the market has a huge impact on the taste of your intended meal.  Green plantains are fantastic as a savory dish, as they are only slightly sweet; yellow and black plantains are more suited for sweet caramelized dishes.  

When I make tostones I choose a green plantain with almost no black spots.  When I make platanos maduros, I prefer a ripeness somewhere between yellow and black, although many traditional Latin-American dishes suggest using a completely black plantain.  Generally, I buy them green and store in a bowl on the counter for future use.  A green plantain can take up to a month to turn black, so its an easy fruit to perpetually have on hand.

INGREDIENTS:
1 green plantain
1/4 inch corn oil in a cast iron skillet
1 small dinner plate
Sea salt to taste
Lime wedges

DIRECTIONS:
Peel the plantain by cutting off each edge and then slicing lengthwise on both sides. Peel away the remaining peel. Slice the fruit at an angle into 1 1/2 inch chunks–slicing at an angle (rather than creating a flat surface) will help with smashing later in the process.

Heat 1/4-1/2 inch of corn oil in a cast iron frying pan. When a small drop of water sizzles in the pan, the oil is ready for frying. Carefully add plantain chunks to pan and fry both sides for approximately 3-5 minutes–until tostones just begin to brown.

Remove chunks and drain oil on a paper towel.  Using a small plate, flatten the tostones one at a time. The idea is not to make them super-flat, but just mash them down.

Return to oil and fry an additional minute or two flipping halfway through, until tostones are golden brown.

Remove from frying pan and drain oil once more onto paper towels.  Sea salt to taste, and serve with Lime-Garlic Mayonnaise and some extra lime wedges.


Pumpkin Peanut Butter Hummus

I make hummus practically every week, so I have to vary the recipe a bit in order to keep myself interested in my own cooking!

This hummus has a hint of brown sugary sweetness with the richness of a peanut butter and pumpkin combination–and is still justifiably healthy!  If you are serving it in a dish, garnish with a cinnamon stick, caramelized walnuts, or a drizzle of honey.  It tastes best with celery sticks, graham crackers, buttery crackers, or wrapped in crepes with potatoes and greens.  

INGREDIENTS:
1 16 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzos)
1 C pumpkin (cooked or canned)
1/2 C peanut butter
1/8 C olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
4 T brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
1/2-1 C water

DIRECTIONS:
Add all ingredients to food processor except water.

Begin blending.  Slowly pour 1/2 C water through the feeder tube in your food processor. Blend 10 seconds, or until hummus reaches a smooth consistency.  Taste and adjust spices.  Blend again, pouring in the remaining water until hummus becomes fluffy and smooth.  You might not need all the water–or you might need a little more than 1 C–just stop pouring when your hummus reaches the consistency you prefer most.

Garnish with a cinnamon stick, some caramelized walnuts, or a drizzle of honey.

Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal

I have eaten oatmeal with brown sugar, cinnamon, and fresh apple slices 5 days a week for the past 6 years of my life–I love it–but I was also looking for a more unique approach to the meal.  Often times I stir in peanut butter, flax seeds, chocolate chips, walnuts, fig jam–whatever, really; oatmeal is so versatile, and it pairs amazingly well with a fresh cup of coffe in the morning.  Wrap a spoonful in some fresh Crepes and dust with powdered sugar for a brunch-y style home-cooked meal.

INGREDIENTS:
2 Granny Smith Apples
4-6 T brown sugar, to taste
1 tsp cinnamon
3 C water (plus 1/2 C extra if you prefer a less chunky oatmeal texture)
1 1/2 C rolled oats
1 T butter (omit for vegan recipe)

DIRECTIONS:
Chop apples to desired size.  You can use an apple slicer to begin the process, but I like to chop my apples a bit finer than the thickness the corer provides.

Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray.  Add apples, 4 T brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and water.  Stir.  Cook on high for 1 hour.  Apples will be soft on the outside, but still crisp on the inside


Add rolled oats.  Stir.  I love thick oatmeal, but here is where you can add an additional 1/2 C of water if you find the texture too thick.  Taste and adjust cinnamon and sugar to your liking.  Replace lid and continue cooking on high for 1 hr.

When finished, mix should begin to clump together and have a sticky consistency.  Apples should be soft, and a little mushy.

Serve with milk or soymilk.  Wrap a spoonful in some fresh Crepes and dust with powdered sugar or a honey drizzle for a brunch-y style home-cooked meal.

You can store this in the fridge for a few days and simply reheat in a saucepan (or microwave) with a splash of milk.  I find the taste is even more pronounced the next day when reheated.

This recipe was adapted from the wonderful Kalyn’s Kitchen, however I amended it a bit because I’m not a big fan of Splenda.  I also wanted to add a more buttery flavor so as to mimic apple pie.  

Olive Oil Sesame Crackers

I really enjoy the challenge of making every part of a meal from scratch:  homemade crackers and freshly blended hummus are some of my favorites because they are such a simple standby snack–but knowing I did everything aside from picking the beans and grinding the flour (no gardening here in New York City!) is a cool feeling whenever I sit down to eat.  The experience means so much more.  I love baking all sorts of crackers, but this is my favorite standby.

INGREDIENTS:

2 1/4 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/3 C olive oil, plus extra for pan coating
1 C room temperature water
1/2 T garlic powder
1 T mixed italian herbs (I like to use rosemary and thyme)
2 T sesame seeds (for sprinkling)

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Coat a baking sheet with a thin layer of olive oil.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, salt, garlic powder, italian herbs) in a large mixing bowl.   Stir lightly to distribute ingredients within the mix.  Add water and oil.  Mix with spoon until absorbed.

Move dough to a clean surface–no need to flour.  Knead until wet ingredients are completely combined and distributed.  Break dough in to 3 or 4 sections.  You can bake all sections at once, or store dough in fridge for 2-3 days.  (They also keep in the freezer for about a month).

Roll out one section of dough to no thicker than 1/8 inch.  It is important to roll as thinly as possible, as this will ensure a crispier cracker.  Sprinkle a layer of sesame seeds and light sea salt over the rolled out dough.  Run a rolling pin over the dough once more to press the seeds and salt into the dough.

Using a pizza cutter, slice dough into 1×1 or 2×2 inch squares, depending on your preferred size.  One at a time, place squares on olive oil coated baking sheet.  Bake 15-20 minutes, flipping the squares at least once when they begin to brown on the bottom to ensure an even crispiness.  I also rotate the pan when I flip the crackers.

Serve with hummus, cheese, Vegetarian Chili, olives, fruit–whatever you use crackers for!  Store  in an airtight container for up to a week.