Cauliflower-Cashew Creamed Spinach + Roasted Tomatoes

Cauliflower cashew creamed spinach

Creamed spinach is one of those recipes that seems mutually exclusive with vegan or paleo, perhaps first made popular by Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now a steakhouse staple across the United States, creamed spinach is traditionally made with heavy cream and butter. This significantly lighter version does utilize a relatively high-fat ingredient [cashews] but the bulk of the “cream” is a virtually fat-free vegetable [cauliflower]. Continue reading

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Beet & Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

beet and red cabbage kraut

Beet & Red Cabbage Sauerkraut especially when paired with avocado is a food often touted in the same respect as cheese *both have probiotic qualities—and since the advent of the raw vegan sauerkraut phoenomenon—both have a veil surrounding them regarding the fallacy of their difficult-to-make-yourself psychological red tape [we think we can’t make it ourselves, or aren’t supposed to]. Continue reading

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Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Acorn squash seeds roasted

Roasted Acorn Squash Seeds

Of all the things to look forward to in the Fall/Autumn months, winter squash is high on my list. Butternut, spaghetti squash, pumpkin…the list goes on. One of the best (in my opinion) and most commonly found in grocery stores, farmer’s markets, etc. is acorn squash. Continue reading

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Raw Sauerkraut, Demystified

Why Make Your Own Raw Sauerkraut?

It’s cheap, relatively easy to make, and somehow since the mid 2000’s it has made hundreds of neo-hippies richer than the average human. One might ask, how did this phenomenon occur? How might cabbage, one of the least expensive vegetables to purchase, become a get-rich-quick scheme? The answer is simple: marketing, copy, and social media strategy. Explaining how that works might devolve into, erm, slightly unfocused and potentially threatening territory–as in, raw sauerkraut companies the world over might come knocking at my door with a cease and desist letter or I could perhaps get “served”, so…let us proceed with how to make the stuff, shall we?
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But, Beans Aren’t Paleo!?

fava_beansI’ve recently received a lot of messages and comments regarding how “un-paleo” my recipes are.

Yes, I cook with beans. No, I’m not sorry. Nor do I claim them to be “paleo”, because nothing we eat today is actually paleo as in “things people ate during the paleolithic era”. The concept of a “paleo diet” in popular culture is not informed by anyone familiar with the archaeological record.

Here’s the SparkNotes version:
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Brussels Sprout Bisque


I recently watched a tutorial in which Gordon Ramsay demonstrates how to make broccoli soup. Unlike many other soup or bisque recipes, this one did not involve “15, 20 ingredients…chicken stock…shallots sweating down for 20 minutes [or] half a liter of white wine”, but rather “it’s just got broccoli and water”.




Sure enough, most of the broccoli bisque or blended brussels sprout soup recipes do call for chicken stock, white wine, butter, potatoes, onions, bay leaf, half and half and/or flour. So basically, to make broccoli bisque or blended brussels sprout soup the assumption is that one must create a roux and spend hours in the kitchen. No no no this is so illogical it hurts. And Gordon Ramsay, celebrity chef mastermind whose recipes are not typically hashtagged vegan, frugal, or basic seems to agree. As stated in the video, “The most important thing now, is keeping that water. That’s where all the goodness is. It’s got all the flavor of the broccoli in there”.

I planned to emphasize the importance of keeping the vegetable water, but now I don’t have to.

Chef Ramsay then said “We don’t need a chicken stock or vegetable stock. How can you make a broccoli soup with a chicken stock for god’s sake?”

My thoughts exactly.

Then he said “…this thing is great for vegetarians as well, bless ’em.”

Aha there it is…the vegetarian joke, to remind us all that the culinary world at large doesn’t take us seriously. It’s the sort of thing I expect to hear during a holiday dinner, and take with a grain of salt and/or see the humor in. It’s a rendition of what I hear at every holiday, with the exception of last Xmas (when I arrived after dinner) and the year before when I couldn’t make it due to car trouble, so I went to Chinese food with friends and ordered steamed vegetables (which is my favorite food anyway, although most people don’t believe me) or the Xmas four years ago when I had to work.




I’ve made blended soups using only 1 type of vegetable i.e. broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini for years, but never thought to share the recipe(s) on my blog because they seemed so simplistic and obvious. After watching Chef Ramsay demonstrate the recipe and explain each step in precise detail, I realized that single-ingredient blended vegetable soup can be more than a just a simple, frugal, no-frills meal or a means of utilizing the overgrowth of zucchini in the garden. With a bit of finesse, this basic soup becomes something of 5-star quality.

When I make this soup with broccoli, I boil the stalks along with the florets. I don’t see any logic in discarding them, especially in the case of a pureed soup. Also, with brussels sprouts, I typically don’t follow the convention of cutting them in half. I think the flavor improves when boiled whole, like in this recipe.

Seasoned with nothing other than bit of salt, this simple (but not simplistic) version is a ten-minute recipe that exemplifies just how easy it is to prepare healthy, crowd-pleasing meals for vegans and non-vegans alike.




You will need a pot with lid for cooking, a colander, a second pot for saving the water when drained from the cooked sprouts, and a blender.

Brussels Sprout Bisque

Ingredients

2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed
4 cups water
salt

Bring a pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Cover, and boil for 5 minutes. Run a knife through one of the sprouts; if it slices through easily, turn off heat. Carefully pour brussels sprouts with water into a colander over a large empty soup pot. Immediately add sprouts to the blender, and add enough broth to half-cover them. Puree until velvety smooth and thin enough to drink from a mug or a jar, yet thick enough to enjoy in a bowl with a spoon. If the result is more of a puree than a liquid, add more broth in 1/2 cup increments until desired consistency is reached. Add salt to taste and blend again, if desired. Serve immediately.

brussels sprouts soup pre blend
brussels sprout bisque
brussels sprouts bisque square

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Cooking Smart: Brussels Sprouts + Greens

brussels sprouts green kale

One thing you can do to significantly reduce your bill = cook smart. Whether your stove is gas or electric, or if you’re in a tent in the woods with only one match: here’s how you do it.

Object Lesson A: Brussel sprouts and greens
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Let’s say you have brussels sprouts and some greens that have wilted slightly and/or would taste much more satisfying cooked. You have a pot to cook in with a lid, and a knife of some sort.

Trim brussels sprouts of any soiled leaves. If you have a knife, chop off the base of the sprouts (which can tend to be dirty).

Boil sprouts in enough water to cover them. Cover with lid to bring water to a boil more quickly. Once the water begins to boil, lift the lid and add a few shakes of salt if you have it. This will help tenderize the sprouts and reduce overall cooking time. Boil covered for 6-12 minutes. If you like them a bit softer, err on the side of 12.




Turn off heat and remove sprouts with a spoon or strainer, leaving the vegetable water in the pot. Immediately throw your greens into the pot. Cover with lid, allowing the heat from the water/vapor to cook the greens. The salt in the water will also tenderize the greens, allowing them to cook quickly and serve while the brussels sprouts are still warm. Serve with the broth/leftover water to warm your insides and to maximize nutrient intake. The brussels sprouts and broth taste taste delicious as is, but also when lightly seasoned with lemon juice and black pepper.

brussels sprouts greens brussels sprouts and kale brussels sprouts and greens

More Cooking Smart recipes to follow…

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