Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuscan Bean Soup

Good Morning Everyone!

Boy am I glad that I didn't get up to go for a run this morning.  Currently, it is snowing.  Not sticking, but snowing!  I guess a nice little run in the snow wouldn't have been that bad, but it just looks so cold!  So instead I had a warm bowl of nuts and squash and two pieces of homemade bread smeared with fig jam!

Last night, while making dinner, I had my tv on.  All of a sudden there were a bunch of really loud pops and then silence.  My tv went dead, kind of.  I unplugged everything and then replugged and turned it on.  Again, popping and then silence.  I did some research on the internet and it said that it was probably a build up of dust.  So today, after work, I am going to disassemble my tv and vacuum it out.  Keep your fingers crossed that it works.

The funny thing was, I didn't really miss it last night, although I did rent a movie on iTunes.  I went to bed thinking about selling my little tv set up and what I would put there to replace it.  I thought about all the different kind of pictures I would hang on the wall and how I could get a nice long bookcase to showcase my beans.  I also thought about all the more constructive things I would be doing besides watching tv, like reading, knitting, studying, sleeping!  So, I think that by the end of the week I will decide if I can live without a tv.

Onto food!

The cold weather and the now probably 23 pounds of beans in my closet are really good excuses to make lots of bean soups and stews.  This next recipe has been haunting my thoughts ever since I bought "Clean Food."  I had seen it the first day I bought it, but it just seemed too hard and difficult.  Funny how a long list of ingredients can do that to us.  If fact, it was an incredibly easy soup.  I even soaked and cooked my own beans!  And this soup/stew is so flavorful and filling it is kind of ridiculous.  Try it with polenta or pasta!  Or if you can eat bread, a nice crusty piece of bread.

Tuscan Bean Soup
Courtesy: "Clean Food"

1 Thumb sized piece of kombu
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon dried basil
2 Teaspoons dried oregano
1/4 Teaspoon dried rosemary
1 1/2 Cups cooked chickpeas*
1 1/2 Cups cooked white beans*
1 1/2 Cups cooked aduki beans*
4 Cups canned chopped tomatoes with their juices
1 Bunch kale or collards, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 Cups water or vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 Cup red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 Cup chopped fresh parsley

* For the beans I used aduki and two of the white beans I got in my CSA.  Feel free to experiment with the beans or use what she had called for.

Place kombu in bowl with enough water to cover and soak 10 minutes or until soft.  Drain, mince and set aside.

In Dutch oven over medium heat, saute garlic and onion in olive oil 3 minutes or until soft.  Add basil, oregano and rosemary and stir.  Add chickpeas, white beans, aduki beans, tomatoes, greens, kombu and stock or water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Stir in vinegar and wine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover and cook for 45 minutes.  Remove from heat, garnish with parsley and serve.

Serves 6

Tuscan Bean Soup over Ancient Harvest Gluten-free quinoa elbows

Crunchy Cinnamon Plantain Chips
Courtesy: "Thrive"

So here is another one of those items that I picked up at the store because I have never tried it before.  I knew that I had seen some sort of recipe for plantain so I thought I would give it a try.

"Thrive," a book by Brendan Brazier, is an eating guide for vegan athletes.  Well, it is a book for anyone looking to eat healthier and cause less stress on their bodies.  He has a lot of wonderful recipes and had introduced me to hemp products.  The recipe says that these plantain chips turn crispy, but mine never really did.  Either way, they were delicious!

1 Large plantain
1/2 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 Teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 300.

Peel and thinly slice plantain from end to end; the strips should be long.  Place on a baking tray lightly oiled with coconut oil.

If coconut oil is hard, heat until liquid.  Combine lemon juice with coconut oil.

Rub a bit of oil and juice mixture on top of each plantain strip.  Rub on cinnamon and sea salt.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Comfort Food

Good Evening.

I intended on writing something profound and meaningful today, considering Christmas is just around the corner, but my thoughts are just not organized enough.  So instead I will just give you a bunch of delicious, warming recipes.

I have been busy this week cooking beans.  So far I have tried five different varieties: Dutch bullets, Arikara, Vermont Cranberry, Rio Zape and Jacob's Cattle.  They have all turned out fabulously.

Last night I had a little "dinner party" and made, what I felt, was true comfort food; chili, corn bread and a crumble.  It was only the second time I had attempted chili and cornbread...I am pretty proud of myself.

Three Bean Chili
Courtesy: "Clean Start"

I am not a fan of spicy food so I opted to not put in as much cayenne an no hot sauce.  Also, I would have added more cumin, salt and pepper.  I served the chili before doing a final tasting!  I should have known better!  But it is really good.  Also, I used my heirloom beans instead of the beans she suggests.  Jacobs Cattle, Arikara, Vermont Cranberry and Rio Zape.

1 Thumb sized piece kombu
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Garlic cloves, minced ( I used 5 )
2 Onions, chopped
2 Green bell peppers, diced
4 Cups chopped tomatos ( I used canned )
1/2 Cup tomato paste
1/4 Cup red wine
1/2 Teaspoon dried oregano
1 Teaspoon cumin
2 Tablespoons chili powder
6-8 Drops hot sauce
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne ( or to taste )
1/4 Teaspoons salt
1 1/2 Cups cooked black beans
1 1/2 Cups cooked aduki beans
1 1/2 Cups cooked pinto beans
Water or Vegetable stock as needed

Place kombu in bowl with enough water to cover and soak 10 minutes or until soft.  Drain, mince and set aside.

In large pot over medium beat, saute garlic and onion in olive oil 3 minutes or until soft.  Add green peppers and saute 2 minutes more.  Add chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, wine, oregano, cumin, chile powder, hot sauce, cayenne and salt.  Add cooked beans and kombu, stir to combine and simmer at least 45 minutes.  Add vegetable stock as needed to thin.

Courtesy: "Gluten-Free Vegan"

This was a super easy and quick cornbread that really complimented the chili.  Feel free to add corn or peppers!

1 1/2 Teaspoons Ener-g egg replacer whisked together with 2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 Cup agave nectar
1/4 Cup grapeseed oil
1 Cup hemp or soy milk
1/2 Cup brown rice flour
1/2 Cup sorghum flour
4 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
1 Cup cornmeal

Preheat oven to 425.  Spray an 8 or 9 inch square pan with vegetable oil.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg replacer with the warm water, until bubbles form and the powder has completely dissolved.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the agave nectar and oil, and beat until smooth and thick, 1-2 minutes.  Add the egg replacer and hemp milk, and continue to mix until well blended.

In a separate bowl, combine the brown rice and sorghum flours, baking powder, salt and cornmeal, and stir well together.  Add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture and stir just until it becomes incorporated.  Do not overbeat.  Pour into the prepared baking pan and bake until lightly browned on top, 18-20 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack and serve.

Put the two of these together and you have a complete meal!  I added some sautéed spinach to my chili!  Yummy!

Apple Cranberry Crumble

This recipe originally called for peaches, but the peaches that were going to be used turned out to be old. They had been sitting in the freezer for over a year and had gotten freezer burn.  Luckily I had lots of apples to use!

Combine in a bowl:

2 Cups fruit-apples, peaches, pears
1/2 Cup cranberries.  I used fresh.
Agave nectar to taste.  I probably used 2 Tbs.
1 Teaspoon arrowroot starch
Cinnamon to taste

For the topping, mix together to form a course crumble:

1 Cup gluten free flour mix.  I used Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour mix.
3/4 Cup light brown sugar.  I used 1/2 cup sucanat.
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
4-6 Tablespoons light tasting vegetable oil.  I used grapeseed oil.

Preheat oven to 350F.  Either use non-stick spray or olive oil to coat the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate.

Place all fruit and liquid into the pie pan.  Top with the crumble mixture.

Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the filing is bubbling.  The top should be golden brown!

Cool on a wire rack for about 5-10 minutes before serving.


There are very few things that I miss being vegan and gluten free.  Mac and Cheese is one of them.  There is something very comforting about the cheesy elbow noodles out of a blue box.  We all grew up with it.

Funny thing is, I don't really miss cheese.  I bought some Dayia (fake cheese made out of tapioca) for the chili dinner, but I didn't personally use it.  I just didn't need fake cheese.

I have two recipes for fake mac and cheese.  One is a baked dish and the other is a really quick and easy dinner.  Keep in mind that neither of them actually taste like the stuff that comes out of the blue box, but do they do job.  I personally like the quick and easy one better!

The Best Vegan Baked Mac and Cheese
Courtesy: "The Gluten Free Goddess"

I am too lazy to write down her whole recipe so I am just going to cut and paste the link.  :)

Vegan KD
Courtesy: "Sketch Free Vegan"

This recipe comes from two lovely Canadian sisters and their blog,  I love their recipes.  Check out their blog, please!

This is so quick, nutritious and yummy it boggles my mind.

2 Cups gluten free pasta ( I like ancient harvest quinoa elbows )
1/4 Cup hummus
3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 Cup almond milk or other milk alternative
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.  Mix pasta and sauce together and heat through.  Viola!  Done!

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Year's Soup

Good Evening.

This week has been very intense for me.  Lots of emotions.  I am struggling with what to do with my life.  I am 99.9% sure I want to go back to get a degree in nutrition, but do I get a Masters or just another Bachelors?  And nearly my whole self craves to be back in Amsterdam, in Europe.  It has become very frustrating.  Luckily, this week, I had a good friend remind me of a few important things.  

1. We all let our emotions get ahold of us and we just need to take a step back.
2. Life is all about love.
3. A simple smile can change someone's life.

My love...FOOD.  So onto the food...

I have been planning this meal since last week.  I have been wanting to make a warm and filling soup with beans and veggies.  Once again, Terry Walters has saved me.  I have also been baking fresh bread every week.  I have taken the teff flour bread recipe and started tweaking it.  Today I used half teff and half almond meal.  I also added hemp protein, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.  Yummy!

New Year's Soup
Courtesy: "Clean Start"

1 Medium yellow onion, chopped
4 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 Carrots cut into 1/8 inch rounds
3 Parsnips cut into 1/8 inch rounds
1 Bunch collard greens stems removed
3 Cups cooked black-eyed peas (or any meaty, white bean)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
4 Cups vegetable stock
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In soup pot or large dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil 3 minutes or until soft.  Add carrots and parsnips and saute 3 minutes.  Chop collard greens into bite-size pieces and add to pot along with black-eyed peas and oregano.  Add vegetable stock, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 20-25 minutes.  Stir in apple cider vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and serve.

Serves 6

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Favorite Meal Ever

Hello Everyone.

I thought it was about time to post some more savory dishes.  When I get as busy/tired as I am it is just easier to cook up some greens, rice and beans and call it good.  I promise I will do better and become as adventurous in my dinners as I am in my desserts.

This next recipe is really one of my favorites.  I love it.  There is something so simple and flavorful about it.  Plus, it is really easy to make.  If you use canned beans this really only takes 12 minutes, enough time to cook quinoa.

White Beans and Escarole
Courtesy: "Clean Food"

You might be asking what escarole is.  I had no idea when I first saw this recipe.  When I went to the store it was mushed between all kind of lettuce and you couldn't tell the difference, they all look the same.

After some checking on the internet I have found that escarole is related to endive and is often called chicory.  Escarole has very few calories, 20 or so per serving, and has a large amount of vitamin A and C.  All around this is a great alternative to other leafy greens.

Add beans, garlic and rice or quinoa and you have a nutritious, flavorful dinner.

6 Garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 Cups cooked great northern or navy beans ( I used an heirloom bean called arikara )
2 Large heads escarole, chopped
2 Tablespoons flax oil (I have never used it because I can't find it)
5 Dashes ume plum vinegar (essential!)

In dutch oven over medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil until soft.  Add beans and escarole and stir until escarole starts to wilt.  Continue cooking 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, drizzle with flax oil and vinegar and toss to combine.  Sprinkle with gomasio and serve.  

I always add more ume plum vinegar because I love the taste of it.  

These are gomasio and ume plum vinegar.  Gomasio is simply sea salt and sesame seeds.  You could make it on your own.  And the vinegar?  I have no idea how to explain it.  It is a vinegar made out of ume plums and is bitter and tart and compliments greens really well.

Dijon Curry Vinaigrette
Courtesy: "Cafe Flora Cookbook"

Cafe Flora is a delightful little restaurant in Seattle.  It serves the vegetarian, vegan and gluten free community.  I enjoy going because I feel safe eating out.  I know that the servers understand allergies and food sensitivities and are willing to help me make good food decisions.  I don't have to worry about something getting into my food that I can't eat.  The last time that I was there I picked up their cookbook.  To be really honest, most of their recipes are really complex and I haven't used it much, but they do have really yummy salad dressings.

I usually don't like eating salads at home because they are really boring, but I have been trying to eat a nice salad before dinner instead of tortilla chips or other snacks.  While flipping through the Cafe Flora cookbook I came across this recipe and it was intriguing.  I decided I would try it, and guess what?!  It is awesome.

2 Teaspoons dijon mustard
2 Teaspoons curry powder
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tablespoon honey, brown rice syrup or brown sugar
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 Cup olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except the oil.  Dribble in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thoroughly blended.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Holiday Treats

Hello, Hello, Hello

Sorry that it has taken me so long to post anything.  I have been very busy with work and volunteering and I am just plain old exhausted.  But even with my schedule I have found plenty of time to cook so I still have a few things to post.

Today I went to the Holiday Market in Eugene to pick up my bean CSA.  24 pounds of fresh, dried, organic heirloom beans!  Arikara, calypso, dutch bullet, Ireland creek annie, jacob's cattle, rio zape and Vermont cranberry.  

I have beans for the year!  I need to eat 1/2 a pound of beans every week for the next 52 weeks to be able to eat all of the beans I have.  When I came across this little stand at the Saturday Farmers Market I had never soaked and cooked my own beans-I was scared.  It was all new to me.  But I couldn't resist the challenge these beautifully packaged beans presented to me.  Boy am I glad I bought my first bag.  These beans are fantastic!  Not only are they super cheap, $130 for the entire year ($2.50 per week) (think about if you were to buy a can of low sodium, organic beans at the store...$2 or more dollars per can), but they are richer in minerals and nutrients because they are freshly dried.  And I am supporting a lovely, local farmer.  I have already started to look for more interesting bean recipes, one which will follow, but I always need more so feel free to send me your favorites!

I am enjoying cooking at home more and more.  I knew that I always enjoyed it, but I am really starting to prefer it.  Creating meals from scratch makes me proud.  Not going to the grocery store and buying a container of apple sauce or frozen gluten-free bread makes me feel competent.  I love going into work and sharing my LOVE with others.  That is what food is - love.

So...all of the recipes today are yummy treats, perfect for holiday get togethers.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Black Bean Fudge

I found this website while searching for a gluten free bread made with teff flour.  She has the most delicious looking recipes and photos.  Oh, and her teff flour bread-delightful.  This fudge recipe IS something you should write home about.  I brought it into work and everyone loved it.  They couldn't believe that it was made with a can of black beans!  It is very intense so I would suggest cutting it up into smaller pieces.

1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil 
1/4 Cup carob powder, cocoa powder or a mix
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 Tablespoons agave nectar (to your taste)
1/4-1/2 Teaspoon stevia extract (I didn't have any so I just added two medjool dates and a few extra tablespoons of agave nectar)
Sea salt

Combine all ingredients, except for salt, in a food processor and process until totally smooth.

Line an 8x4 pan with saran wrap or parchment paper and transfer fudge mixture into pan, pressing down firmly.  Sprinkle with a bit of coarsely ground sea salt.   Put into refrigerator and let set for at least an hour.  Cut into about 24 squares.  This can be kept in the fridge for about 6 days.

Peanut Butter Candy
Courtesy: "The Gluten-Free Vegan"

Susan O'Brien, the author of this book warns that these lovely balls of goodness are addictive...I heed this warning to you as well.  Plan on sharing them or having a really good reason to tell people why you ate them all.

1/2 Cup organic peanut butter (I use the fresh ground peanut butter at the store, the stuff you grind yourself)
1/8 Cup pitted and chopped medjool dates
1/4 Cup chopped pecans
1/4 Cup sesame seeds
1/4 Cup brown rice syrup
1 Tablespoon arrowroot powder
1/8 Teaspoons ground cardamom

Line a small cookie sheet or platter with parchment paper.

Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir together until mixed really well.  Roll into balls and place each ball on the prepared cookie sheet.  Chill until set.

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Here is another food blog that I follow on a regular basis.  I adore these sisters.  Their food is creative, warm and you never feel bad after eating it.

Sorry the picture is so uninspiring, but I promise this is so easy and flavorful you will enjoy it.

1/2 Cup pumpkin puree
1/2 Cup coconut milk
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground chia seeds
3/4 Teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground ginger

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Let sit overnight, or a few hours in the fridge.

You could top with chopped nuts or your own crumble topping!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie with Praline and Pecan-Coconut Crust

This lady is near genius.  I use her blog nearly weekly to find something sweet and yummy to make.  She has so many recipes that you are bound to find something you like.

This recipe caught my eye because I had never really seen a vegan pumpkin pie recipe that did not use tofu.  Karina uses a cashew cream.  I figured I would have to try it.  And to be honest, I had never made a pumpkin pie before.  Here was another challenge awaiting me.

I made this on Thursday for a little dinner party I was having.  I had no idea how it was going to turn out and fretted about it for most of Friday.  On the way to the dinner I realized that I had forgotten to make the praline!  Oh well, life goes on.  When it came time to cut into the pie I was relieved when it didn't fall apart.  This is some pie!  Not too sweet but full of flavor.  I received complement after complement.  They all said that they wouldn't have known it was gluten free or vegan!  And we had two non-vegan/vegetarians there!  Best kind of compliments a girl can get.  :)

I am not going to repost her recipe word for word, I am going to be lazy and just post the link to the recipe.  Please check it out though.