All posts by Rachel

Quinoa Taters

mushroom walnut loaf, quinoa mashed potatoes, sesame green beans, cornbread

The pinnacle of my dining-out experiences this week was the deliciously square meal pictured above: mushroom walnut loaf and quinoa mashed potatoes topped with delicious vegan gravy. It’s served beside sesame green beans and cornbread. This is one of the best meals I’ve ever had, at the Red Herring or otherwise.

These mashed potatoes… with red quinoa? Yes, please. The next time you think someone’s about to ask, “where do you get your protein?”, put a plate of these in front of them (with gravy, of course) and they’ll be too busy inhaling them to ask. (Quinoa is a protein-rich grain – 8 grams per cup, cooked. A medium red potato with skin on has 4 grams too.)

quinoa taters

Let’s have a close-up shot of those taters, shall we? The camera loves you, baby.

Misato Radishes and Random Nut Cheese

misato radishes and random nut cheese

The little watermelon-like veggies in the box are called misato radishes. I first encountered them locally at an open house for doGood Consulting, where a friend of mine featured local foods prepared by a local chef. I remember having a good time, petting a hairless wonder-cat (adorable!), and sampling these intriguing (and delicious) radishes. I am not a huge fan of radishes. Sometimes they give me an (extremely rare) case of heartburn. I guess pretty food matters!

The misato variety of radish, appropriately dubbed “watermelon radish”, is a winter variety. I was surprised by the lack of information on this variety when searching for “misato radish”. A search for “watermelon radish” reveals a bit more. The taste is much like a regular radish: a mix of sweet and peppery. I peeled my radish before slicing, but I don’t think that’s necessary. I also skipped the very spicy and bitter slices near the end. The outer flesh has a lot more bite, and the end slices which contained most of that flesh weren’t tasty. Radishes have nearly as much potassium as a banana, and are a good source of fiber.

Misato radishes may pop up at farmers markets in the fall, or at your local co-op in the middle of winter. This radish is from Blue Moon Farm.

I enjoyed my radish as a snack with some cucumbers and a vegan cashew cheese spread. The recipe is random, and contains about 1.5 cups of soaked raw cashews, some white miso, garlic, white pepper, rice wine, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, and salt. It’s like a smoky cheese spread.

 

Turnips, Take One

roasted turnips with caramelized onions

I tried turnips this week. I like them.

They were tossed with a little bit of olive oil, about 1/2 tsp of agave nectar, salt, and pepper, then roasted in a 400 degree oven. While the turnips cooked in the oven, I made some caramelized onions on the stove, then I threw them both together at the end.

The verdict: I like. I am starting to think my radio nickname really should be Root-Vegetable Rachel. But we would have to switch it to Rhubarb Rachel in the spring.

 

Produce on the Edge

You know that random produce that you find in the drawer that needs to be used right now before it goes bad? We worked with that this week, and also came up with a new taco filling.

tempeh burrito

I had a four-day weekend the past week due to a day off to prepare food for my niece’s birthday party on Friday, and Martin Luther King Day on Monday. I finally got around to making some tempeh taco filling. I’ve been meaning to try this for a while. I didn’t really follow a recipe. I simmered the tempeh loaf in a shallow pan for about 20 minutes, cooled it a bit, then broke it up with a fork. In the same pan while it was cooling, I sauteed some onions, and added Penzeys Arizona Dreaming seasoning (one of my favorite spice blends ever), smoked paprika, salt, and some vegetable broth. I think it could have used some tomato paste, but I didn’t have any on hand. I tried to approximate the proportions of water and seasonings that one would get using a dry packet of taco seasoning.

Our tacos had lettuce, onions, salsa, and cilantro.

tofu scramble

Lance requested scrambled tofu for breakfast, with mushrooms. I was using the last of the mushroom blend that I chopped and cooked up before the mushrooms went past their prime. I like this technique for vegetables that are about to go bad. I can always cook them up and freeze them to add to soup later, or to blend into something like a sauce or even a smoothie. I’m getting better at not wasting produce. We also added spinach and mini sweet peppers to the scramble. It seemed like the right thing to do.

golden beet and pomegranate salad

This salad is made with some lovely Blue Moon Farms golden beets, apples, dinosaur kale, romaine lettuce, chickpeas, and pomegranate seeds. I’m a fan of fruits and vegetables in a salad, and chickpeas go with everything. It’s not pictured, but I topped this with a simple honey dijon dressing (dijon mustard, agave syrup, a bit of onion powder, and black pepper.)

chickpea salad and starfruit

The leftover chickpeas were made into chickpea salad, in which I used the remainder of the green onions before they went bad. (See the theme here?) I was going for a chicken salad-like version this time with fresh celery, onions, and some Penzeys BBQ 3000 seasoning. We picked up a few new spices over the holidays and are trying some of the blends.

This is the first time I’ve actually enjoyed star fruit. I bought it as a garnish for a fruit salad, but it’s tasty when it’s properly ripened. Here we had it with sliced kiwis and a banana that needed to be eaten that day.

On Sunday, Lance was our special guest on Food for Thought Radio, with Vegan Linda and myself. (A 7-year-old on live radio… what could possibly go wrong?) He did a good job talking about things he likes to eat, and packing lunches for school. For some reason known only in the mind of a 7-year-old boy, he also dreamed up a race in which the participants run 100 miles and drink beer. (I know a few people who would actually attempt something like that.)

Lance on Food For Thought

Lance on Food For Thought Radio

 

 

Quick Raw Vegan Pecan Pie

datesHere’s a recipe for the easiest raw vegan pecan pie you’ll ever make:

Replace the pit of a medjool date with a pecan half. Done.

How funny… I came up with the same recipe too! I have it for dessert whenever I have both dates and pecans on hand. Sometimes I go a little crazy and use an almond instead. Whoo-hoo!

This recipe is from The Date People. I hope they don’t think I’m infringing on their copyright by reprinting it. I just think everyone should eat dates, or eat more dates. As The Date People say on their Facebook page:

“They are extremely nutritious, higher in potassium than bananas, also rich in iron, calcium and vitamins. If you are looking to balance your acid/alkaline state, dates are more alkaline than almost any other food.”

If you’re like me and enjoy something sweet after a meal once in a while (or all the time), a couple of dates seems like a good dessert.

Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch?

L.A. Gourmet Lunch

There is, and sometimes it shows up unexpectedly at your desk.

L.A. Gourmet catering left us with some samples at work, and the vegetarian portabello was assigned to me.

Inside the neat little box, I found:

  • A sandwich of hummus, provolone cheese, sauteed mushrooms (not the large cap I was expecting, but a few tiny pieces), yellow peppers, cucumbers, and romaine lettuce. It was a little thin for a sandwich, and I expected much more mushroom to live up to the name. The roll was tasty.
  • A bag of super-crispy kettle crunch potato chips – my favorite variety. (Salt and vinegar is actually my favorite flavor, but these are my favorite texture.)
  • A cup of pasta salad, swimming in dressing that was light on oil and heavy on vinegar and sugar. Not bad, if a bit ordinary.
  • A bag of apple slices. Pre-cut produce makes me nervous, but they tasted good.
  • A brownie with a caramel center.

I didn’t mean to eat the the whole brownie. I can already tell that I should not have eaten the whole brownie. I feel like a hummingbird on crack. At least I have the energy to prepare for the sugar crash later this afternoon. Maybe this is the price of a free lunch. Ugh.

Native American Buffet

native american food buffet

The Red Herring recently hosted a buffet featuring vegetarian Native American foods. Of course I forgot the camera, as I’ve been doing a lot lately, so I took this grainy iPod Touch picture. Foods may be tastier than they appear.

From left: wild rice and spinach casserole, spicy seitan strips, succotash, cornbread, squash, black beans, and frybread with tempeh filling. All delicious, and all for a mere $7 ($5 for students and kids).

We learned something too, about the Three Sister: corn, beans, and squash. According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of interplanting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, widespread among Native American farming societies, is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet to generations. (from The Three Sisters Garden)

The Three Sisters are also an important part of a balanced diet, and complement each other nutritionally. Corn provides carbohydrates. Beans are rich in protein, balancing the lack of necessary amino acids found in corn. Finally, squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds.

My plan for holiday domination is complete.

Happy Who-lidays.

The party countdown begins: six days until approximately 21.5 Webers descend upon our house for Christmas. I finally have a menu.

I’ve been eating vegetarian lately, due to the sultry siren song of cheese. I’m trying to wean myself from it again. The menu is mostly vegan, a lot of colorful fruits and vegetables. I hope this will please everyone.

appetizers
cheese plate with crackers
vegetables & dip
bruschetta (garlic shrimp marinara, spinach artichoke, roasted eggplant (vegan))

lunch
lasagna
pulled pork bbq sandwiches
curried carrot soup (vegan)
black bean quinoa salad (vegan)
roasted brussels sprouts (vegan)
broccoli salad
fruit salad (vegan)

dessert (all vegan)
chocolate peppermint cookie cake
cherry cobbler w/ ice cream
assorted cookies

drinks
soda
wine
Christmas cocktails (cranberry juice, ginger syrup, club soda, lime, vodka optional)
hot tea

other things
party mix (vegan)
vanilla cashew energy balls (vegan)
spicy Thai nuts (vegan)

Arroz con Gandules

arroz con gandules

It’s a good sign for me that I’m making the time and effort to take lunches to work again. October’s Vegan MoFo seems like a blur, in which I tried to eat in as many restaurants as I could during the month. This was not kind to my waistline. November was stressful, and when I get stressed I make all the wrong food choices. Again, ditto for the waistline. Now the holiday season and its inevitable splurges are coming, but my body just can’t take this abuse any longer. I feel like I’m walking around half asleep, in a carb-induced state of near-hibernation. I would actually hibernate, except I would miss knitting season and a whole lot of other fun things.

I’d like to be able to say that what I’ve been eating lately is mostly healthy, and it’s just the quantities that need adjustment – but it’s not the case. I’ve been loading up on sugary junk and carbs. It feels like I’m on a moody roller coaster, where the downward swings leave me feeling like no amount of sleep is enough, and the wiry sugared-up feeling doesn’t last nearly long enough. I feel so much better when I’m “high” on the phytochemicals. The solution is probably more kale. When I’m planning meals, I need to think vegetables vegetables vegetables! instead of grains grains grains! this winter.

I’m sure I can shift myself away from these carb cravings with better planning and more fresh vegetable choices ready to go in the refrigerator. It’s like a cycle… I eat carby junk, I get tired all the time, I lose interest in cooking and food preparation, I eat more carby junk that I can grab, lather, rinse, repeat. But I shall break out of this. I will make a date with myself. On this date, I will purchase, clean, and prepare 3 different healthy snacks to have on hand that have vegetables and/or fruit and protein. I will plan meals for the week and lunches to take to work that will fill me up all day.

And if this doesn’t work, you may find me in a nearby tree, sleeping it off until spring.

The picture above is rice with pigeon peas, or arroz con gandules. It’s a Puerto Rican dish I first tried at a Seventh Day Adventist food fair, and I liked it a lot. My version was thrown together on a weeknight after coming home from work AND a trip to the store for groceries, so it’s not as detailed with spices or as authentic as the real thing. Basically, I just used my own Mexican rice recipe, which is probably all sorts of wrong, and added a can of pigeon peas. The real thing calls for flavorful achiote oil, a Puerto Rican staple. It usually contains some green manzanilla olives, but not everyone in my family likes those. I will work on a version that’s closer to the real thing.