Red Quinoa Salad with Spiced Roasted Squash, Black Beans, Maple Toasted Pepitas and a Chipotle Dressing

This post is half recipe, half product review. I must admit, I was never a fan of mayo or miracle whip growing up. However, after transitioning to a plant based diet, I fell in love with Vegenaise (a vegan version of miracle whip). Recently a new company, Just Mayo, released a vegan mayo. We brought some into the deli and I played around with it, but wasn’t in love with it. Two new products from Just Mayo happened to catch my eye – Chipotle and Garlic infused. I am a fan of spice, so I gave the Chipotle a try. Turns out, it’s pretty great. I had it on a veggie sandwich yesterday and today I made a fabulous quinoa salad. The flavored mayos are definitely versatile and can be utilized in different ways. It would be fun making a pasta salad or mashed chickpea (faux chicken) salad as well!!

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Ingredients

- 1/2 kabocha squash, seeded, peeled and diced
– Arizona spice mix from Penzey’s
– 2 c cooked quinoa
– 1 c cooked black beans
– a handful of maple toasted pepitas (recipe follows)
– 2 Tbls Maple Syrup
– 1 Tbls melted coconut oil
– Cayenne
– Cinnamon
– salt
– olive oil
– Just Mayo Chipotle style
– Apple cider vinegar

1. First, preheat the oven to 400F. Coat the squash in olive oil and toss with Arizona spice mix and salt. Roast until soft
2. Next, make the dressing by mixing together Just Mayo chipotle, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, chipotle, olive oil and salt
3. For the pepitas, I only use a handful – but I make a large batch because they’re fun to snack on and always disappear quickly. I toss 2 c of raw pepitas with maple syrup, olive oil, cayenne, cinnamon and salt. I roast at 400F for a few minutes then set outside to cool
4. Assemble the salad by adding quinoa, beans, squash, pepitas and dressing. Salt and pepper to taste

Warm Spinach Salad with Sautéed Garlic, Butter Beans, Goat Cheese and Roasted Beets

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After a 5 days on the road, indulging on a variety of food and spirits, my body needed a detox. I knew once I got home, did a mound of laundry, put things back in their places; I would not be enthused to spend a large amount of time in the kitchen. I made a quick and practical meal which utilized elements I had on hand. You can apply this concept to other ingredients you have. No spinach? How about bok choy, cabbage, kale or swiss chard? Not a fan of beets? Try a different root veggie, perhaps a carrot or roasted sweet potato. To make it vegan, omit the goat cheese, or make a delicious vegan parmesan topping! Whichever you choose, I am confident you can use a minimal amount of ingredients for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Ingredients
– 1 16oz package organic spinach
– 1 12oz can butter beans
– 1 clove garlic
– olive oil
– salt
– 1 medium beet
– goat cheese
– lemon infused olive oil for garnish
– salt/pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat the beet with some oil. You can leave the skin on. Roast the beet until it can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove from the oven, cool, peel, then cut into diced pieces
2. In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil on medium. While it’s warming, slice a clove of garlic very thin. Add the garlic to the oil, cook until fragrant
3. Add the butter beans to the garlic. Cook for a few minutes, then slowly add in the spinach. Cook the spinach until just wilted
4. Dress the salad with some goat cheese, serve with beets on the side (for presentation purposes only, prevents the salad from becoming discolored)

Vegan Portobello Ramen with Kelp Noodles

Every so often a product comes in that throws me through a loop. Kelp noodles were such a product. I assumed that the noodles would have a strong seaweed taste. Well, you know what they say about people who assume?… Right. So, it turns out, the kelp noodles have zero flavor.

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Another surprise was that they were mildly crunchy and a little chewy, giving them a great dimension of texture. How cool is that!?

Realizing I now had a blank canvas to work with, I decided to stick with the Asian theme. I made a Thai peanut salad with kelp noodles which took the place of soba noodles. It was delicious. Later that night, I came across a recipe for Kelp Noodle Ramen. I was sold. When I got to the deli the next morning, I played around with the recipe, eventually settling on what I have below. It is absolutely delicious. And, if you would like softer noodles, try soaking them in water overnight. Otherwise you can simmer them for an hour on the stove.

Ingredients
– 2 pkg kelp noodles
– 2 large portobello caps, peeled, destemmed, and chopped
– 1/4 c oil (I used olive oil)
– 1″ ginger, grated
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 tsp tamari
– 8-10 c water
– 1-2 Tbls veg base
– 1 Tbls vegan fish sauce
– 2 eggs, whisked (optional)
– cilantro for garnish
– sriracha for garnish

1. In a large soup pot, pour in olive oil. Turn the heat on and add the diced mushrooms. After 5 minutes, or when the mushrooms are turning tender, add the ginger, garlic and tamari. Cook for 1-2 minutes
2. Next, add the fish sauce, water and veg base. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer
3. If you soaked your noodles overnight, add them now along with the whisked egg. Once the egg is cooked, taste and add any additional seasonings or spices.
4. If you did not soak your noodles, let noodles simmer in the broth for about an hour. Right before you remove the ramen from the heat, add the whisked egg. Keep the pot on the heat until the egg is cooked
5. Top your ramen with cilantro and sriracha!

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Simple Thai Curry with Winter Squash and Broccoli

If you are looking for a fast meal that is full of flavor, this recipe is your winning ticket. I found this fantastic curry paste at a nearby co-op. The Kanokwan paste is vegan, gluten free and MSG free. I’ve had Thai Kitchen’s curry paste before, and that is okay, but this is an authentic paste from Thailand!

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If you aren’t keen on squash or broccoli, feel free to mix in any veggies of your liking. I prefer pairing the squash with this yellow curry because it reminds me of one of my favorite dishes from Chang Mai Thai in Minneapolis.

As you will see, the biggest challenge of this meal was peeling the squash.

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Progress….

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Normally I chop off both ends of the squash and guide my knife, cutting end to end. However, this was a superman squash with a skin of steel. After 10 minutes of labor, I successfully removed the outer layer. If your knife skills aren’t up to par, or if you are working with a dull knife, I highly recommend you invest in frozen squash cubes. There are a few great organic brands in the freezer section!

I can’t say enough good things about this recipe. Enjoy!!

Ingredients
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 tsp ginger, grated
– coconut oil
– 1 small squash, diced
– 1/2 head broccoli, cut into florets
– 1 packet of curry paste
– 1 can coconut milk

1. Melt coconut oil in a skillet. Add onion. Once the onion is fragrant, add garlic and ginger. Cook for 1-2 minutes
2. Add the curry paste and let the spices cook together for a few minutes. Next, add the coconut milk, squash and broccoli
3. Simmer over low heat until the squash is tender (about 7 minutes, depending on the squash and size of your diced pieces)
4. Serve over basmati rice

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Brown Butter Pumpkin Bread with Maple Glazed Cinnamon Walnut Filling

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In theory, this should be amazing. I mean, sugary, gooey, nutty filling? Freshly pureed pumpkin? Ok, well I used the canned stuff, but the organic canned pumpkin. Either way, this wasn’t a total success. I pulled the bread too early and it was very dense and chewy. I would suggest using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. Also, be careful of over stirring. This can cause your breads to be tough and chewy.

What I love about this bread is the subtle sweetness from the maple syrup and walnut glazed filling; combined with the earthy and rich taste of pumpkin. I found it to be even more delicious sliced and toasted in the oven, then slathered with a generous layer of coconut oil.

I hope you have fun experimenting with this recipe! I will write the vegetarian version which I tested, along with the veganized parts.

ingredients
– 1 1/2 c pureed pumpkin
– 1 egg (1 flax egg, 3 Tbls water+1 Tbls flax)
– 2 tsp vanilla
– 1/2 c maple syrup
– 2 Tbls heavy cream (or non-dairy cream)
– 1/3 c brown butter (or 1/3 c oil)
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 2 tsp baking powder
– 2 c flour (try cake flour, if possible)

for the filling
– 1 c roasted walnuts
– 2 Tbls maple syrup
– 2 Tbls dark brown sugar
– 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. First, prep the filling by combining all ingredients, and set aside
2. Next, preheat the oven to 350. Whisk all of the wet ingredients in one bowl, set aside
3. In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients, combine with a whisk or fork. Then, fold the wet ingredients into the dry
4. With cooking spray, coat a loaf pan then pour half of the batter into the pan. Add the walnut filling and top with remaining bread dough
5. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes
6. Test bread with a knife or toothpick, if it comes out dry, it’s done! Let cook for 10 minutes before removing from the tin. Allow the bread to sit on a baking rack for 30 minutes before cutting

Everything Bars

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These everything bars were inspired by Food52’s bulk bin bars recipe. I made these with just a few minutes on hand and had them ready to go in the morning. It was great! The bars could also be rolled into bite-sized balls for on the go snacks. Feel free to substitute any of the following ingredients, as I did with some of the original ingredients posted.

Enjoy!!

Ingredients

- 1 1/2 c oats
– 3/4 c cocoa dusted almonds
– 1/2 c cherry flavored cranberries
– 1/3 c chopped pecans
– 1/3 c chopped walnuts
– 1/2 c unsweetened coconut
– 1/4 c sunflower seeds
– 1/3 c ground flax
– 1/3 c honey
– 1 c peanut butter
– 1/4 c apple sauce (I just pureed a whole apple…)

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl
2. Line a 13×9 baking pan with parchment
3. Spread bar mixture in pan
4. Freeze overnight. Cut into bars/bites!

Cinnamon Carrot Cupcakes with Maple Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Well, hello there. It’s been awhile, eh? My deepest apologies. Life got crazy…was booked for a week solid with a catering gig; had some friends visit; and had some interviews. All great things. Only downfall is that things like my blog take the backseat.

To make up for lost time, I am sharing a terrific cupcake recipe. It comes all the way from the heart of South Africa and I seriously had a blast in the kitchen making this. The spice level is perfect, and would also go well with hints of ginger and nutmeg, if you wish to get adventurous. I had some challenges with the cooking temp/time as the cupcakes are slightly overdone which was necessary in getting my toothpick to come out dry. I started at 350 F, but suggest you aim for 325 F.

Despite my inartistic abilities, I found the frosting to be the highlight of the recipe. I went with a maple cream cheese frosting dusted with flakes of unsweetened coconut. It was a great choice. To take it up a ‘wow’ factor, toast the coconut for a few minutes to get a nice golden color.

Enough writing, time to get baking!!

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Ingredients
– 1 c brown sugar
– 1/2 c sunflower oil
– 1/2 c canola oil
– 3 eggs, beaten (feel free to use flax eggs: 3 Tbls flax + 9 Tbls water)
– 1 1/2 c finely shredded carrot
– 1 1/2 c flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 tsp baking powder
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1 c chopped walnuts
—–
– 1 c cream cheese
– 1/4 c powdered sugar
– 1 tsp maple syrup extract
– 1 tsp maple syrup
– flaked coconut for topping (about 2 Tbls)

1. In a large bowl, add the brown sugar, oils and egg. Mix well
2. Next, add the remaining ingredients. Stir until everything is just combined (don’t over mix)
3. Line muffin/cupcake tins, add enough batter so it sits just below the liner (I made 15)
4. Cook at 325 F for 30-35 minutes
5. Let cool fully. Create the frosting by whipping the cream cheese, powdered sugar, extract and syrup together. Spread generously on cupcakes. Top with flaked coconut

Mason Jar Brownies

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One thing I am not: craftsy. I avoid pinterest because I see a lot of cool things that I would like to do, but when it comes to the follow through, I quickly become frustrated at my inability to be creative (yes, I realize things other than craft projects exist on pinterest…) Regardless, there is one project that I’ve wanted to try for awhile and that’s making brownies in a jar. I’ve had a hankering to take this on over the holidays, but then when the time comes, I get consumed with a million other menial tasks. Thankfully, I have a bridal shower coming up and I am strapped for cash. Perfect time to test out a mason jar brownie recipe.

After some searching, I came across Alicia Silverstone’s post and it seemed like a perfect fit. Once I had the jar prepared, it occurred to me that I should actually test the recipe out…I am so glad that I did…Sigh. It’s way more cake than brownie and the whole wheat flour gives it a grainier/healthier feel, which is okay, if that’s what you’re going for. While this recipe is acceptable, I will definitely be on the prowl for a different one that offers a chewier and gooeyer consistency :)

Ingredients

- 3/4 c white flour
– 3/4 c whole wheat flour (or just do 1 1/2 c white…)
– 1/2 c cocoa powder
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1 1/2 c sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 1 c chocolate chips (in her recipe, she uses these for the frosting…I use these for more chocolaty goodness inside the brownie; that and I loathe frosting)

Steps…
1) Combine above ingredients in a large mason jar (at least 32oz, I struggled squeezing my chips in)
2) On a card, write the instructions below, and additional ingredients

1). Add mason jar ingredients to a large bowl
2). In a medium bowl, whisk together the following wet ingredients:

- 3/4 c non-dairy milk
– 3/4 c brewed coffee
– 1/2 c canola oil

3). Add wet to dry, mix until everything is combined
4). Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes. Let cool before cutting

Palak Tofu

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Ok…So, I have voiced my frustrations with being unable to create an awesome Indian dish. Well, I think I am finally on the right track! I absolutely love this recipe from Vegan Richa.

The only thing that was somewhat amiss with the recipe was the serving size. After making the meal, I’d say it serves 1-2…but if you can squeeze two more servings out of this, more power to you. Perhaps I was just so smitten with it, I was eager to eat it all!!!

Ingredients
For the tofu:
– oil
– 1/2 of Trader Joe’s super firm tofu (I used 8 oz of the 16 oz package) cut into little cubes
– 1/2 tsp cumin powder
– 1/2 tsp garam masala
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder
– 1/2 tsp cayenne

For the curry sauce:
– 2 c spinach
– 1/4 c water
– 1/4 c almond milk
– 2 Tbls raw cashews, soaked for 30 min
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 tsp ginger powder (or fresh ginger)
– 1 medium tomato
– 1/4 teaspoon garam masala

1. Mix the spices for the tofu, set aside. Add oil to a skillet, turn heat to medium and once hot, add the tofu
2. Cook the tofu until it begins to brown. Then, add the spices. Cook for about 5 minutes
3. Mix all sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add to the spiced tofu and simmer until the sauce thickens. Use cayenne/salt/pepper to taste

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Vegan Peanut Butter Protein Bars

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Most people have at least one type of food vice. I happen to have a few. One of these vices is protein bars. I LOVE a good protein bar. I never seem to schedule enough time in the morning. By the time I’m done exercising and getting ready for work, I have about 5 minutes to either make a protein shake or grab a protein bar. Why so much protein? After seeing a nutritionist a few years back, I realized I was lacking sufficient protein intake. I feel the easiest remedy for this is a strong protein based meal in the morning to set the tone for the day. I’ve also noticed that this A.M. protein boost helps me feel full throughout the day while I’m at work. WOO!

Ok, so let’s get to the recipe. I found a great base to work with thanks to Oh She Glows. I omitted the chocolate because I really don’t like sweet bars, especially in the morning. I also reduced the sweetener and added some almond milk. Feel free to play around with what I came up with!

Ingredients
– 3 c oat flour (GF)
– 1 c puffed brown rice
– 1 c vanilla raw protein powder
– 1 c raw peanut buttter
– 3/4 c maple syrup
– 2 tsp vanilla
– 2-4 Tbls almond milk

1. Combine oat flour, puffed brown rice and protein powder in a large bowl
2. In a smaller bowl, combine peanut buttter, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir until everything is mixed together
3. Add the peanut butter mixture to the dry
4. With your hands (I used cooking gloves), mix everything together. You will likely find the mix to be dry, begin to moisten with 1 Tbls of almond milk at a time
5. Line a 13×9 pan with parchment paper. Spread the bar mixture in the pan with your hands. Once the mixture is smooth and even, place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cut into desired shapes!