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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Cheez-y Tahini Shirataki Fettuccini

cheez-y-tahini-fettucciniMy husband and I have recently experimented with new vegan cheez/cheese substitutions in recipes. When our blender broke and we started using tahini frequently as a base for sauces and dips, etc., John created this Italian-inspired dish and it was such a success that I jumped at the opportunity to photograph and feature it here. Continue reading

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Pepita Pancakes w/ Persimmon Compote

pepita pancakes

Pepita Pancakes w/ Persimmon Compote

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup raw, shelled pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup non-dairy yogurt of choice (coconut, almond, or soy)
2 flax “eggs” (see instructions below)
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
stevia extract to taste, optional (for a sweeter pancake)
Continue reading

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YAWP! (the redemption of the health bar)

slideshow_1YAWP! bars are the best thing to happen since…ever.

Since 2007 I have viewed all “energy bars” with disdain or else voiced ironic and original quotes (and often outright anger) regarding their place in “society” as glorified candy bars, or their infallible ridiculousness as a supposed health food. Continue reading

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Sesame Broccoli with Sautéed Scallions

broccoli with scallionsThis recipe might just win the award for Most Sustainable Paleoveganista Recipe to date. I would call it radical, but then again most of my recipes fall into that category. Continue reading

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How to stay vegan at camp #camplife

paleo2
I’ve wanted to write this post for awhile now. I’ve spent the past month at a camp for kids as program assistant and manager of the camp store. At the store, campers can spend cash $ or bring $ and hand it over to myself or a counselor/unit leader during registration. Parents can also set up accounts prior to camp, and some campers have $ left over from the previous year or have funds earned via credits earned during the year. The camp shop also accepts credit cards and checks from parents and camp staff. I assume campers could use credit cards and/or checks as well, though most utilize the account system.




After breakfast on the last day of a week at camp, before they return home on the bus or their parents pick them up, campers frequent the camp shop to ask for their account balance and/or receive a refund of $ not spent. Yesterday I panicked because I thought I over-refunded one kid’s account. I remember this because when I informed her of her account balance on the second-to-last day of the session, she made a comment along the lines of “great, then tomorrow I can buy a hamburger when we stop on the way home”. The next day, when this camper asked for her refund, it perplexed me that it amounted to $9. I could have sworn she had $6 left, because I’d associated her hamburger comment with the Carl’s Jr. “six dollar burger” commercials aired on TV in the late ’90s. Later, when I “counted out” for the evening and calculated the sales/factored in the refunds, it appeared that I hadn’t given her 3 extra dollars after all. Who knows, perhaps the price of burgers has risen significantly since 1999. Or maybe the camper in question planned to stop at an overpriced hipster establishment on the ride home. Maybe somewhere in the town nearest to civilization, the irony is thick enough to have one. When the camper said “burger”, she could have meant “kobe beef slider”. Whatever the case, over-refund I did not—so the reason for the prevalence of this experience on my psyche escapes me.




Here I now sit, just outside a mountain town town I practically grew up in due to its significance as a stop along the way toward family vacations every summer. Its familiarity comforts me, I think. I sip coffee with almond milk and a glass of pineapple juice, my lungs rejoicing in the increased availability of oxygen from the lower elevation. I recall last night, and the heirloom tomato I enjoyed with sliced red onion and a glass of “Unruly Red” California red wine. I hadn’t tasted wine in a long time. I now either appreciate it more, or my acceptance of the “wine hype” has waned. I can’t pinpoint this heightened sense of critiquing social norms and things humans in “society” consider fun or recreational, but I must admit I don’t dislike it. Moreover, this feeling or “sense” (which in this context might seem analogous to jadedness) is not new. An important component of my personality, I have repressed and questioned it the more I develop a self-consciousness of “being an adult”, looking back on my gypsy-vagabond life path and serendipitous decision-making. In the past year I have wondered “am I crazy”, thinking of the airstream trailer and 1985 motor home parked in the field behind the house situated between the two radio towers and deemed by my grandmother as a “meth house” (not so, but her statement did not surprise me based on its appearance to the outside world/drivers on the 1-5). Currently I reside in a raised platform tent, on a cot with a mattress and ultralight REI sleeping bag. I use a flannel/canvas sleeping bag underneath it, which helps the plastic “mattress” to not seem as such—and a pillow I picked up at WalMart at the last minute after realizing I’d forgotten the luxurious one my Nana so graciously lent me, despite the frequency of her reminding me to pack it in my car so as to not leave without it in the morning. Sure enough I left without it, an action that I justify to myself daily under the pretense that “sleeping on a WalMart pillow builds character”.




The camp has a salad bar, so my diet consists mostly of sliced black olives, beets, iceberg lettuce/red cabbage/carrot mix and sunflower seeds. On good days it includes broccoli or cauliflower, cucumbers, and sliced onions or tomatoes. Due to dietary needs by gluten-free and vegetarian campers, the weekly menu includes things like vegetable stir-fry, curry, tacos, pizza, and pasta. For me, this means beans on taco night, stir-fry or curry over lettuce minus the rice, marinara over steamed broccoli on pasta night, or a slice of gluten-free thin-crust cheese-less pizza on pizza night. Sometimes the vegan or gluten-free option has nothing to do with the meal served to the majority, and/or involves raisins (strongly dislike) or pecans (allergic). In general, the adaptability of the kitchen staff to accommodate vegans has impressed me thus far. At first it perplexed me that on some days the vegan or gluten-free option contained no protein (usually on pizza or pasta nights), but the availability of sunflower seeds at the salad bar has allowed me to avoid requesting additional “special food” from the kitchen. On certain days the salad bar includes a plastic 9-pan filled with three-bean-salad. In a bowl or a cup filled with hot water from the carafe across the dining hall, the salty-sweet, vinagre-y syrup strains out, leaving only chickpeas, wax beans/string beans, and kidney beans.

*Disclaimer: I love washing dishes. It’s my favorite chore. I’ve also been paid to do it, even at the camp. Something about scraping things I don’t eat from a plastic plate and arranging them in a plastic rack, or rinsing the forks, knives, and spoons and separating them into separate containers and pass through the sanitizer really gives me a zen experience. I don’t think it’s crazy to enjoy certain meaningless tasks. I hate dusting, for example. It mainly bothers me that professions such as dishwashing are stigmatized, and influence social strata among social and work relationships alike.

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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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Grilled Artichokes + Vegan Wasabi Aioli

artichoke
I’ve never really liked veganaise, or vegan mayo. It reminds me of tuna salad. I do however, love artichokes. So do most people, I’ve learned…which should be a wonderfully convenient fact…yet somehow I get very turned off at the sight of artichokes (or any other vegetable for that matter) dipped in mayonnaise. Even if the mayo is vegan, I can’t deal..ever since I was 5 or 6 years old at a holiday party and witnessed a platter of steamed broccoli served with mayonnaise as a dip. I went through a phase in college when I could tolerate it because my roommate(s) always had it around and I was just grateful it wasn’t real mayo. Come to think of it, of all the 35 different roommates I have lived with since 2007, none of them ever bought mayonnaise yet somehow many of them had an affinity for veganaise, nayonaise, or whatever other vegan mayonnaise was available. I haven’t lived with many vegans, yet somehow found myself surrounded by the omnivores-who-prefer-vegan-condiments crowd.




Even though I’m not normally a fan of aioli , I thought I would try to make my own soy-free, paleo version. This one utilizes wasabi, an ingredient choice that occurred when I envisioned the different types of veganaise that once inhabited my refrigerator. If I recall correctly, wasabi mayo was among them. For this recipe I used sunflower seeds to create a creamy texture. I still had a few cashews left over (see previous post) so I used them also. The recipe is a 2-step process; first prepare the wasabi worcestershire, then blend with the sunflower seeds and cashews to create the aioli.

It turned out delicious, with flavors similar to the type of aioli traditionally served with artichokes…only without the egg-y undertones that mayonnaise-based versions often exhibit.

Grilled Artichokes with Vegan Wasabi Aioli

Ingredients

1-2 globe artichokes
1 lime slice, or extra for garnish
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup artichoke water/broth (see below)
1/16 tsp stevia extract powder
1 tsp stone-ground dijon mustard
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
2 tsp wasabi powder

artichoke halved
artichoke half

Method

Cut the artichoke(s) in half. If you want a nice presentation, use scissors to snip away the pointy tips of the artichoke leaves. Boil artichokes in 3 cups water with the lime slice and bay leaf. Meanwhile, prepare the vegan wasabi worcestershire sauce and/or the aioli.

Preheat a grill or broiler on high heat.

When artichoke has finished boiling (about 20 minutes), carefully scoop out the “hair” from the heart and then transfer to the preheated grill or broiler. Cook until browned or when grill marks appear, about 5 minutes.

for the vegan wasabi worcestershire sauce
Stir with a fork or whisk together the soy sauce, minced garlic, garlic powder, blackstrap molasses, stevia extract, dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar with 1/4 water/broth from the artichokes.




for the aioli
In a food processor or blender, combine 1/4 cup vegan wasabi worcestershire with 1/4 cup sesame seeds and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds. Blend until smooth. Add more artichoke water/broth in 1 Tbsp increments if additional liquid is needed.

Serve artichokes with vegan wasabi aioli and lime slices.

vegan wasabi worcestershire aioli
vegan artichoke aioli

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Broccoli Stalk Fettuccine + Roasted Tomatoes

broccoli stalk fettuccine
Pasta alternatives don’t have to cost $2 per serving. I enjoy using Shirataki noodles just as much as the next paleo enthusiast or carb-conscious person, but the cost adds up. So I thought, why not utilize an ingredient that many home cooks often throw out? I always use the stalk of the broccoli, but usually just add it along with the florets in soups, stir fries, and steamed vegetable dishes. It just occurred to me today to feature broccoli stalks as the star of a dish. The result? Even better than I predicted. Broccoli stalks, when thinly sliced, make a mean fettuccine noodle. The chickpea-cashew cream sauce pairs perfectly, but my favorite element would have to be the roasted tomatoes. Overall, this dish has aesthetic appeal and a lovely flavor profile. To make it even more budget-friendly, toasted sesame seeds can be substituted for the cashews.



Broccoli Stalk Fettuccine + Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients

3 roma tomatoes, halved
2 broccoli stalks
salt, for cooking
1 cup toasted cashew pieces* (see how-to in the steps below)
1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup broccoli water
1 Tbsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice or more, to taste
1 clove garlic
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3-4 peppercorns
Salt to taste

broccoli pasta ingredients

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees..

Using a mandolin (who am I kidding, I don’t own a mandolin) or a knife, slice strips from the broccoli stalks as thinly as possible. Then slice each slice as thinly as possible to create “noodles” (thinner than julienne, as long as the stalk will allow you to cut all the way without inducing breakage).

In a stove pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add broccoli “noodles” and a pinch of salt. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.

chopping broccoli

*The purpose of/inspiration behind this recipe was to make use of broccoli stalks that are often discarded by home cooks and/or the general public—but if your broccoli still has florets attached, use them too.




When oven is ready, place roma tomatoes in an oven pan or on a cookie sheet. Lightly shake sea salt over tomatoes before transferring to the preheated oven.

raw tomatoes halved

Before you start the alfredo sauce…
When broccoli “noodles” are tender (7-10 minutes) use a strainer to extract the water/broth. Return pot of broccoli noodles to the stove, cover, and ignore while you focus on other the other elements in this dish.

broccoli stalk noodles

for the sauce…
Blend 1 cup toasted cashews* with 3/4 cup broccoli water/broth, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 3-4 peppercorns, 1 tsp red pepper flakes, 1 Tbsp garlic powder, and 1 Tbsp lime juice.

*to toast the cashew pieces…
you will need:
raw cashew pieces
a small cast-iron skillet or frying pan
a plate
a wooden spoon or pair of wooden chopsticks for stirring

cashew

Spread the nuts in a single layer in the skillet. Turn on heat to low (3-4). Stir regularly to ensure all sides are cooked. This takes 15 minutes, or until cashews are lightly brown. If you see traces of dark brown, don’t worry. When dry-roasted/toasted the traditional way in Guatemala, cashews develop spots that are more browned than others*.




*I found a youtube video for a how to make cashews (marañones) from start to finish (literally, the video shows the fruit picked directly from the tree). I’ve witnessed this process before but all I did was take an Instagram photo. I always wished I’d made a video. Now I found one. Shout-out to Arielhz45 for their well-made informative instructional video. The reason why most cashews you find at the grocery store in the bulk bins or pre-packaged by Planter’s or some other company = here in the grand old USA we tend to think everything tastes better with grease and salt. We roast cashew nuts in peanut oil (thanks, Planter’s) despite the fact that cashews have a high fat content already (the good, nutritious fat that comes from whole foods *note: when I write “whole foods” I don’t mean WFM. I write about WFM (Whole Foods Market) occasionally, so I can see how this might seem confusing. From now on, I will refer to Whole Foods Market as such, or I will abbreviate as WFM. When I discuss “whole foods” I mean whole foods as in unrefined, unadulterated, unprocessed foods and/or actual foods as opposed to fruit byproducts i.e. olive oil, grape seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, or seed byproducts e.g. sunflower, sesame, or canola. Also ingredients that aren’t used as fillers in practically every packaged food, such as the corn byproduct maltodextrin. Get it? Sorry if that sounded fragmented. If so, ask me to clarify via a comment, an email, or whatever other means of communication you choose.

Here is the aforementioned video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TBYddQRWU
and here is an official PeaceCorps video that documents how cashews are made/processed in factories in Ghana (I’ve never been to Ghana, but I do know a lot about cashew processing and the socioeconomic chain of demand surrounding it) also I might be joining the Peace Corps so this video seems relevant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ky8omUFpxVI

the alfredo sauce:

vegan alfredo

the roasted tomatoes:

roasted tomatoes

Julienne the roasted tomatoes and toss with cooked broccoli “fettuccine” and alfredo sauce.

vegan broccoli stalk pasta

 

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