Monday, April 30, 2012

Magical Mint Quinoa Pudding

Quinoa for breakfast is always fun and creamy.  I decided to jazz it up recently with some mint.  The mint flakes made this all natural filling breakfast taste light and refreshing as well as satisfying.  Make some now!  You will need:
Quinoa of choice (I used basic white/yellow quinoa)
  • Milk of choice (I used almond)
  • Sweetener of choice
  • Mint flakes
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • Vanilla (optional) 
  1. Rinse and sort the quinoa, and then place it in the slow cooker with milk in a ratio of approximately 1 part quinoa to 3 or 4 parts milk, and so the slow cooker is ~3/4 full (note that this is a greater ratio of milk to quinoa than prescribed on most boxes, to get a soft, pudding-type consistency; if you want a more traditional quinoa texture, follow box directions for the proportion of milk to quinoa).
  2. Add remaining ingredients to taste.
  3. Cook on low overnight or until soft and creamy.
  4. Stir, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. 
  5. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Citrus Garlic Broccolli

 Wow, this stuff is good!  This broccoli recipe has transformed me from a broccoli fearing, wannabe vegetarian into an absolute broccoli fiend.  Seriously.  It's salty, tangy, garlicky, crunchy, and, for added addictiveness, can even be a tad sweet.  I prefer this to french fries and find that if I don't make it for a few days, I start to really crave it.  I make this recipe at least a few times a week, and each time I do, I eat a whole plate of broccoli at once!  Inspired by the best vegan broccoli of my life, I took things one step further to simplify.  This is even better than the previous version!  This is my go-to, healthy, lazy, deeeleeeeshous ahhhmazing broccoli for busy, daily life.

To share in the glory of this broccoli dish, you will need:

Washed and chopped broccoli (the pre-washed and dried bags at the grocery store work really well here; if you insist on washing everything yourself, be sure you dry the broccoli quite thoroughly before roasting it!)

  • Nonstick olive oil spray or olive oil, or both
  • Salt (I used sea salt)
  • Pepper (I used freshly ground pepper)
  • Garlic (either thinly sliced or chopped fresh cloves or powder)
  • Citrus fruit of choice (lemon or orange work wonders here)

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick spray.
  3. Cover sheet with broccoli and garlic.  
  4. Spray everything again, generously to coat (or toss with some olive oil - more fatty but very delicious!)
  5. Salt and pepper everything.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or so, or until the outer edges of the broccoli are crisp and brown.
  7. Cut the citrus fruit of choice in half and squeeze the juice over the broccoli.
  8. Toss to coat.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
  9. Enjoy!

Psychedelic broccoli?  I inverted the colors using Picasa for this photo.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Coconut Quinoa Pudding

This is a healthy, creamy breakfast pudding, reminiscent of a rice pudding.  Unlike standard white rice pudding, this pudding is made from nutrient-rich quinoa, so comes with loads of protein and fiber.  The flavors are pretty comparable, and the texture is a little more creamy than standard rice pudding.  To make the pudding, you will need:

  • Quinoa of choice, uncooked (I used basic white quinoa)
  • Milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond)
  • Coconut flakes
  • Sweetener of choice (I used a mix of stevia and agave)
  • Ground ginger
  • Vanilla (optional)
  • 2-3 Green cardamom pods

  1. Fill small (1.5 quart) crockpot until 2/3 full with quinoa and milk, with approximately 1 part quinoa to 3 or 4 parts milk 
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients to taste
  3. Cook on low overnight or on medium or high heat for a few hours, until the pudding is soft and creamy.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings; sprinkle with some extra coconut flakes.
  5. Enjoy!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Pancake Milk Shake

Behold the ultimate healthy comfort food: the pancake milkshake.

This thick and creamy, high protein, sugar-free maple shake was born out of a mostly empty kitchen and some desperation.

It's been a busy few weeks, with less time than usual for fiddling around in the kitchen.  I also hadn't been able to go food shopping as much as I would have liked to, either.  So left without my go to breakfast cereals, limited time, and an overwhelming craving for comfort food, I began to experiment.  This shake is the delicious result of a few quick minutes of mixing one morning.  I highly recommend this shake!

You will need:
  • Milk of choice (I used unsweetened almond)
  • Unsweetened soy protein powder (either plain or vanilla would work)
  • Maple syrup of choice (I used a sugar free variety)

Stir everything together and enjoy!  If desired, swirl in some extra maple syrup after you have mixed everything together.  The soy protein powder has a dry and flour-y consistency that makes this shake thick and satisfying.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Deep Chocolate Truffles

 I'm a huge fan of Chocolate Covered Katie, so as soon as I saw her recipe for fudge babies and friends, I knew I wanted in.  They're easy, healthy, natural, and delicious.  So one day, when I get a super high powered blender and can pulverize some walnuts, I totally plan to make them.  Several varieties of them.  However, until then, I'll be making this recipe and calling on the same CCK concepts and deliciousness in spirit.  This recipe yields a truffle that's pretty tasty in its own right.  Your truffles will also be rich and delicious.  As with the originals, you'll need no added sugar and no blender.  You only need:
  • Almond butter (choose a variety according to taste - e.g. salty or not, roasted or not...)
  • Mashed dates (if they are difficult to mash to the consistency of applesauce, soak them for a few hours first)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark for rich color)
  • Instant coffee powder (optional, for a mocha flavor)
  1. Mix the first three ingredients in approximately equal portions with a fork (possibly use less cocoa depending on how bitter you like things, a little goes a long way here) until a chocolatey batter forms.  
  2. Taste and adjust the proportions, adding some coffee granules if desired.
  3. Role into balls.
  4. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Creamy Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Quinoa

This is one of the healthier, more filling breakfast meals I have had in a while.  Quinoa is a delicious seed that tastes a lot like a grain.  The consistency of this quinoa dish is much more like a porridge or oatmeal than a traditional quinoa.  Imagine wholesome, nutty quinoa, just more creamy than you might be used to, and mixed with cinnamon and sugar.  Yum!

Surprisingly, it's also one of the easier hot breakfasts to put together.  You will need:

  • Quinoa
  • Cinnamon, to taste
  • Sweetener of choice, to taste (I used stevia)
  • Salt to taste (a dash is usually enough)
  • Milk of choice (I used unsweeteend almond milk)
  • Fruit topping (optional, I used grapes)

  1. Inspect and rinse the quinoa (some boxes come pre-washed, and if so this step is unnecessary).
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small slow cooker (I used a 1.5 quart slow cooker).  You will want to use more milk/liquid for each serving of quinoa than recommended on box instructions, probably 1.5 to 2 times as much and possibly even more than that.  
  3. Cook on low overnight or until creamy.  Overcooking a bit is okay, just make sure that your cooker is sufficiently fully (2/3+) so that nothing gets burnt.
  4. Adjust seasoning.  Serve with sliced fruit, if desired.
  5. Enjoy!  It's yummy hot or cold.

I ate the entire portion, but it did make quite a lot, and I would imagine for those with smaller appetites or serving bowls it might serve two.  If you have any leftovers, this should keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, and tastes pretty good cold as well.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Three Ingredient Quinoa Biscuits

These biscuits are delicious served warm and topped with coconut butter.
These biscuits are easy to make and quite good. They come out of the oven quickly and have a lovely golden color, a soft and crumbly texture, and a mild flavor.  Oh, and they happen to be pretty healthy too - each biscuit has approximately 130 calories!  You can make the biscuits in muffin tins (this was originally supposed to be a muffin recipe but the result was more biscuit like).  The biscuits require only three ingredients: quinoa flour, baking powder, and Sprite.  The Sprite works surprisingly well here - it has hints of citrus which make the biscuits taste a bit lighter than they might have otherwise, as they contain dense quinoa flour.  You can easily make a lower-calorie version if you substitute a sugar-free or diet soda for the Sprite.

You will need:

  • 3 cups of quinoa flour (you can make your own if you can't find it)
  • 2-3 spoonfuls of baking powder
  • Salt to taste (optional, recommended)
  • 12 oz of Sprite (I used one of the glass bottles where the soda is made with sugar rather than corn syrup.  Any lemon-lime or citrus flavored soda, including diet, would probably work well here)

  1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients.
  3. Add Sprite and stir until blended.  You should get a pretty thick dough.  If you don't plan on serving topped with some melted butter or oil, you may want to mix some into the batter as well.
  4. Pour batter into 12 lined or greased muffin tins.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
  6. Enjoy!  They taste even better the next day.  You can split a biscuit with a knife, then nuke the biscuit halves in the microwave for 20 seconds or until warm, and then spread with some coconut butter, or better yet a salted coconut butter!

This stack of biscuits was actually much more stable than it looked!

See the nice, crumbly golden tops?

Nice texture.  Yum!

Biscuit, unwrapped!

Really, the best way to serve them - with melted salty coconut butter on top!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Have a Healthy, Vegan Passover

These beautiful beet chips are delicious year round, not just on Passover!
Consider this a totally unauthorized guide to healthy food that happens to be vegan and suitable for Passover. It also can serve as a resource for easy to prepare, healthy vegan foods which happen to be gluten-free.

Special diets always pose an interesting and exciting challenge.  Passover, a Jewish weeklong holiday, is especially challenging for observers of the holiday who are of Ashkenazi descent, as these followers are to avoid most flours as well as rice, corn, beans, soy, peanuts (!), etc.  For vegans, such restrictions cut out many key sources of nutrients.  For a while, I had wondered if both sets of constraints (Passover and vegan) could be met with adequate nutrition and variety.  I gave this dietary puzzle some serious thought.

I now believe that, given proper planning, a healthy and nourishing vegan Pesach is indeed possible.  You can enjoy a number of delicious and healthy vegetarian and vegan Passover meals while adhering to the dietary guidelines for the holiday!  In fact, you can even expand your culinary horizons and try a lot of new and interesting foods while you're at it.  For those of you observing the holiday - or who are supporting friends who are choosing to do so, here are some tips for how to enjoy the holiday in a healthy, vegan way:

  1. Eat lots of vegetables.  
    Veggies are delicious, healthy, and relatively inexpensive.  Almost all of them are allowed for the holiday.  They are filling, and really, we should be eating more of them anyway.  There are so many new and exciting ways to prepare vegetables that you could try.  How many have you considered?  For example, grilling, roasting, sauteeing, etc.  

    You could cook a different vegetable, prepared in a different way, each night.  You could even try two different types of vegetables each day.  You are bound to come away from such an experience with at least a few new recipes for vegetables you absolutely love.  Of course, I'm biased on this count-this is the Veggie Wonder blog, after all!   

  2. Some of my favorites from this blog:

  3. Consume healthy and diverse sources of carbohydrates.
     Matzo crackers are of course the traditional carbohydrate for the holiday, but you can improve the nutrition quotient of your matzah by going for a variety made with whole grain, bran, or oats.  

    Quinoa is for some reason also allowed, and it's one of the healthiest grains out there.  You can use quinoa with sweetener, etc. as a wholesome breakfast in the morning (and you can prepare it in the slow cooker!), or with salt and pepper in a savory manner for lunch or dinner.  Substitute quinoa for couscous in tabbouleh recipes, or for rice for a delicious pilaf.  Quinoa is also an excellent source of protein.  And don't forget, potatoes-baked, mashed, or just the skins.  Yum!

  4. Include healthy proteins in your diet.  
    There are proteins that you can find that work here.  Yes, tofu and beans are unfortunately out.  However, there are some protein powders which should pass muster.  For example, you can find online two magical, lifesaving powders: brazil nut protein powder and pumpkin seed protein powder.  Hemp and flax powders are also available, and may or may not be acceptable to you, depending on which set of guidelines you follow.   Protein balls are delicious, with a protein powder as the main bulking agent for various sweet treats.

    Protein powder can add a nice boost to anything you are making from a pudding to a smoothie.  Mmmmmmm, smoothies!   Now is a great time to try out a green monster smoothie, if you haven't done so already!

    You can also mix your protein powder into soups, drinks, and sauces, to be sure you get a decent amount of protein in most of your meals.

    Some of my favorite high-protein recipes from this blog:

Following are some delicious healthy holiday food substitutions:
  • Pasta-Spaghetti squash, regular shirataki noodles (the kind without tofu)
  • Soups-Curried cauliflower soup, gazpacho soup, etc.
  • Sauces-Guacamole, salsa, most nut butters and seed-butters (you can stir in some protein powder into creamier sauces to make a meal out of them)
  • Sandwiches-layer a high protein sauce from above with cooked or raw veggies between matzo, or roll in a large leafy green, such as cabbage or lettuce, for a wrap
  • Salty Snacks-Beet chips, kale chips
  • Sweet Snacks-Baby carrots, homemade applesauce (really easy in the slow cooker!), baked sweet potato fries
  • Desserts-Chocolate almond berry truffles from this blog, as well as our sweet nut protein balls (use almond butter instead of peanut butter); Chocolate Covered Katie also has some great ideas, including fudge babies, healthier macaroons, and a grasshopper pie (all of which I have tried, and found delicious)

This list is incomplete, and I'll add to it as time passes and I get more ideas.  Please feel free to comment with some of your vegan holiday-appropriate favorites!