Spicy Green Bean Tamale Hummus

spicy green bean tamale hummusThis recipe utilizes the 6 key ingredients used for cooking tamale meat: peppercorns, ancho chilies, guajillo chilies, bay leaf, pumpkin seed and sesame seeds. Traditionally, the meat (usually shredded pork) is stewed in these spices and seeds. As with most things involving meat, the overall quality of the dish comes from the spices and seasonings that give it flavor. Case in point: if not for steak marinades and sauces, it seems safe to assume that more of us would go veg.
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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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Petits Pois A La Francaise

green pea lettuce kale salad

I can hardly believe I’m actually attempting this recipe. Typically made with butter and chicken broth, petits pois a la francaise was never been on my list of things to veganize…until today. Continue reading

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Green Bean Salad with Crushed Red Pepper


This recipe is inspired by something I found online when I Googled “green bean salads”. I found one that had a spicy and citrus-y flavor profile, with crushed walnuts. I’m allergic to walnuts, so I used pumpkin seeds instead. Since walnuts taste semi-sweet and pumpkin seeds do not, I added 1/16 tsp stevia extract to compensate. Also, in place of red pepper-infused olive oil I topped the salad with crushed red pepper flakes (the kind generally used as a pizza topping). Unlike the recipe that was its inspiration, this one is oil-free and calls for only 5 ingredients. Continue reading

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5 Salad Dressing Recipes ≤ 5 ingredients

perfect salad
I’ve traveled a lot, in many situations where access to a blender was nil. Whether it was a motel room with a mini fridge, or a hospedaje with bars on the widows; a hostel dorm with a shared kitchen, a tent, or my car, I’ve managed to make every salad dressing on this list with as little as a pocket knife and a mason jar. That’s not to say they’re simplistic. These recipes can transform something as basic as shredded cabbage into a flavorful and satisfying meal.
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Lunch in a Jar w/ Fire Roasted Peppers

jar lunch vegan 2

Mason jars work like a charm, in many situations i.e. brown-bagging it to work (unless of course you have to go through a security scanner or your employer bans glass containers). Plastic gladware or tupperware containers fail miserably in comparison, in terms of functionality and sustainability…but if an anti-glassware policy is your office-environment predicament, this recipe can adapt to plastic.

Lunch in a Jar w/ Fire Roasted Peppers

Ingredients

1 7oz can whole fire roasted green chile peppers
4 roma tomatoes
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup cooked black beans
salt to taste, optional



method

In a cast-iron skillet, cook the tomatoes in 1/4 cup water. Add more water if necessary, making sure not to burn the tomatoes but allowing them to brown a little. Add the onions, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to create a paste. The mixture should resemble a thick sauce, but not a purée. This salsa/sauce is one of my favorite foods in the world, and I can’t take credit for the recipe. I tried it for the first time in San Marcos La Laguna, a village on the western shore of Lago Atitlán in the Sololá Department of Guatemala. The copy-cat version featured here pales in comparison I’m sure, but it’s my best attempt thus far.

Transfer the cooked tomato and onion mixture to a bowl. Add a bit more water to the skillet and begin to heat the roasted chiles. If the beans are not warmed yet, or if you are using a can, have them ready to heat after the chiles. Remove the heated chile peppers from the skillet, and place in a separate bowl or on a plate. Heat the beans if applicable. In a jar, layer the tomato sauce and chiles with a thin layer of beans.

jar lunch vegan

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Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

DSC_0506

Originated from the Quechua ch’arki, the term “jerk” refers to dried protein. In the Andes aka the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the protein in question was alpaca or cuy (guinea pig) meat.

In the Caribbean and in Afro-Caribbean culture, the term “jerk” generally refers to a spice blend used to season protein. On the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Belize, you can sometimes find jerk tofu on the menu at local restaurants. From personal experience I can vouch for the existence of jerk-seasoned tofu cooked by locals as opposed to vegan expats in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and in Punta Gorda, Belize.

jerk tofu2

Etymology of jerk:
jerk (v.2) as a method of preserving meat, 1707, American English, from American Spanish carquear, from charqui (see jerky). Related: Jerked.

jerky (n.) 1850, American English, from American Spanish charqui “jerked meat,” from Quechua (Inca) ch’arki “dried flesh.”

Spanish spellings include charque and charqui, from which the English word jerky derives.



Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

Ingredients

1 x 16oz package vacuum packed super-firm or extra-firm tofu *I used Nasoya, but in the past I’ve used Wildwood (I recommend using one of these brands for this recipe, if possible. I don’t have experience with other brands of vacuum-packed tofu). Tofu packed in water, or in any other sort of packaging other than vacuum-sealed, even when the label reads ‘super’ or ‘extra’ firm, has an entirely different texture and will not work for this recipe.
½ tsp curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s brand; ingredients: cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, and saffron)
½ tsp garam masala (I used Whole Foods’ brand; ingredients: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander)
½ tsp caraway seed
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 drops stevia liquid or 1/16 tsp pure stevia powder
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/8 tsp salt (I used sea salt, but if I’d had it on hand I would have used pink Himalayan salt; that said, regular table salt would work just fine).
½ cup water

for the cranberry-pepper relish
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp red pepper flakes



Method

In a jar, combine all ingredients except for the tofu. Seal the jar, and shake to combine. Set aside.

Slice tofu into slabs of approximately 1cm thickness. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Shake the jar before pouring 1/2 the marinade over the tofu cutlets. Let sit for 10 minutes.

Turn on the broiler to low, and proceed to cook the tofu. After 5-7 minutes, remove the tofu from the oven, flip, and evenly disperse the remaining marinade. Return tofu to the oven for 5-7 more minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the tofu to absorb the residual heat for 5 minutes.

Serve immediately, or let cool for no less than 10 minutes before storing in the refrigerator. In a tightly-sealed container, these jerk tofu cutlets will last 1 week approx.

jerk tofu

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Skinny Vegetable Tagine

moroccan vegetable tagineEnjoy the flavors of this traditional Moroccan dish, minus the fat and carbs. This paleovegan version utilizes zucchini and yellow squash instead of potatoes, cutting out a total of 250 calories (that’s 130 calories from fat and 20 carbs) per serving.

Let’s face it: the usefulness of water and a cast-iron or non-stick skillet make the need for cooking in oil entirely obsolete. Second of all, and I’m sure I’m not the first to say this: potatoes are boring. They add nothing interesting to any dish, and other less carb-laden vegetables function just as well if not more effectively in most dishes.

This recipe could also be made in a crock-pot aka slow cooker. If I still had one, I would have tried that first.
vegan vegetable tagine



Moroccan-Style Vegetable Tagine

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 eggplant
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 carrot
½ cup onion, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s Spices of the World brand, the ingredients of which are cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, saffron).

Method

In a skillet (I used cast-iron, but I assume a non-stick would work even better considering the oil-free nature of this recipe) begin by sautéing the onion in 2 tablespoons water. Add more water in 1 Tbsp increments as needed. When onions begin to brown, sprinkle in ½ teaspoon curry powder. Add the chopped eggplant and stir. Continue to stir for 1 minute, adding water as needed. Fold in the chopped carrot, and continue to stir for 1 minute. Again, add water when necessary. Fold in the chopped zucchini and yellow squash. After about 1 minute, sprinkle in the second ½ tablespoon curry powder. Vegetables should be very tender but not “mushy”.




Serve atop a bed of kale, accompanied by lime slices, red pepper flakes, fresh mint, and salt if desired to add according to taste.

Nutritional Info

125 calories, 9g carbs, 0g total fat, 12g dietary fiber, 8g sugar, 5g protein, 1089mg potassium, 4% iron, 40% Vitamin C*, 20% Vitamin B6, 8% Calcium, 25mg sodium**

*Vitamin C content increases according to the amount of lime juice added
**Sodium increases if salt is added

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Artichoke Dip with Avocado + Kale

kale artichoke dip

Inspiration behind the invention of this recipe stemmed from having a ripe avocado on hand and little more than a can of artichokes and wilted kale leaves, a fork, a couple of plastic containers, and a serving dish or two. Post recipe-development I looked throughout the blogosphere for vegan artichoke-spinach and/or kale dip. Much to my surprise I found several—some of which also use avocado as a base. Differentiating them from the recipe that follows, most call for a blender to combine all the ingredients. In my experience with developing recipes in the past, blenders don’t always function as the optimal appliance in the case of dips or any other dish for which the desired texture resembles something other than a purée. Don’t get me wrong—blenders and food processors work great in many cases, but mostly in the context of specific ingredients or single-ingredient recipes i.e. nut butters, tahini, nut and seed “milk” and “cheese”, vegan alfredo or creme/cream/crema, the mock-guac I blogged about the other day in which I substituted peas for avocado, or the recipe for raw vegan sun-dried tomato & sunflower seed pâté I created in college and would have shared the recipe for years ago if not for the fact that the nearby co-op mysteriously began to sell a pâté identical to it about a month after I invented it—which seemed very ‘twilight zone’ and seemed to border on plagiarism, yet I never shared recipe “secrets” and I certainly hadn’t blogged about it, since of course back then I only blogged on Blogger.com and god forbid, Myspace. I think I had a live-journal also, but that’s beside the point. I wonder if it still exists? Also beside the point. That said, management of one’s social-media persona has morphed into a conundrum that if not properly managed can open a pandora’s box of all the skeletons in one’s closet that suddenly grow wings and orbit your brain like flying monkeys or planets that circle the sun in an alt-universe where you are the sun and desperately want fewer planets to be your responsibility.




Now for the recipe:

Artichoke Dip w/Avocado + Kale

Ingredients

1 x 14oz can artichoke hearts
1 ripe avocado
1 lime
2 Tbsp raw tahini
1 cup baby kale leaves, wilted
cayenne, optional

kale artichoke dip with veggies

Method

Drain artichoke hearts and mash with a fork to achieve a stringy texture. Set aside. Add the avocado and mash. I used a very ripe avocado that was soft enough to scoop out from the skin very easily—so I didn’t need to chop it first before mashing. If the avocado you use feels too firm to mash easily, I recommend chopping it first. However, I don’t know how well a less-than perfectly-ripe avocado would perform in this recipe.

kale artichoke avocado dip close up

Sprinkle in the kale leaves gradually, stirring/mashing to combine with the avocado-artichoke mixture. Squeeze in juice from the lime gradually also, tasting periodically to gauge the flavor. For the cayenne, do the same. Bear in mind that some people might have a different definition of “hot” than you do, if you plan to bring it as an appetizer to a party/gathering, potluck, or food-not-bombs event. It always comes as a surprise when strangers remind me that fewer than 100% of the individuals that populate the earth enjoy cayenne added to everything.

Serve with raw vegetables, and enjoy.

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