Monday, June 25, 2012

Creamy Raw Vegan Sugar Plum Tomato & Carrot Soup

One of the great things about blended soup is the clean-out-the-fridge factor.  Have a little veg that's not quite fresh enough for a salad?  Throw it in the blender and create something tasty, packed with nutrition, and easy to digest.  That's how this raw soup came about.  I had some baby carrots and sugar plum tomatoes that needed to be used and happen to be on a blending spree today.  The result is a warm summery soup, light yet satisfying. 

In your high speed blender:

1 cup baby carrots
1 cup sugar plum tomatoes
1/2 avocado
1 tablespoon miso
1 to 1 1/2 cup warm water
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Blend until smooth and warm to the touch.  Garnish with more red pepper flakes depending on how much spice you like.  Makes one bowl or two cups.

Portland took a break from summer today.  I even had to wear a sweater when I went out for a walk this afternoon.  The pepper in this soup was nice and warming.  This soup would also be nice chilled for those of you having a hot summer.  You could also sub out the red pepper flakes with other fresh herbs like basil or thyme for a more cooling flavor.  I happen to like a lot of spice no matter what the outside temp.

Happy Sunday! ummm... I mean Monday!  Haha!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Week: Farmers Market Scores, Pizza, & Wraps

Portland has decided to give Summer a wet welcome complete with gloomy skies and and a grey shadowy blanket a la The Killing.  I have no complaints.  It's Saturday morning and I'm still cuddled up in bed with my boyfriend, cat, and laptop, listening to the downpour via open window.  The rain is what keeps Portland pretty and green, as well as washing away some of the pollen that's been feeding our seasonal allergies.  Welcome, showers.

Here are some Instagram photos I've posted over the past week:

Gluten free, vegan cookies with oatmeal, pistachio, and dark chocolate inspired by the recipe in Babycakes Covers The Classics.  They were a little greasy so I plan on using less oil next time.  But overall a really nice cookie recipe.

Some non-produce purchases from the Portland Farmers Market:  A raw vegan fig bar from Eatin' Alive and a gf/v strawberry shortcake whoopie pie and cinnamon roll with icing from Petunia's.  So many options in Portland, Oregon!

I've really been into making wraps.  This was a breakfast wrap with daiya, spinach, saffron quinoa, avo, garlic aioli, and sriracha.

This one with avo, aioli, quinoa, and kale.

A work lunch with left over saffron quinoa, cucumbers, tahini kale (hiding), and black sesame seeds.

Pizza night!  Always the best night!  Have you made Romesco Sauce?  It's a red sauce with toasted hazelnuts in it.  We love it on everything, including pizza.  This one with soy curls, green beans, crimini mushrooms, and daiya.

I finally made it to Loving Hut for lunch with my mom.  Loving Hut is a vegan chain with over 200 locations.  Each location is individually owned with a unique menu.  The food is tofu/soy heavy at the Portland location with only a few gluten free options, but our meals were very tasty and the service was super friendly.  I'm  glad that places like Loving Hut, Veggie Grill, and Native Foods are offering vegan dining options to the masses.

With warmer weather comes more smoothies.  This one was spinach, strawberries and almond butter.

And last but not least, my most favorite summer kombucha drink, cherry chia.  I could drink one every day.

It's been a good food week around here.  With the farmers markets in full swing we're eating lots of delicious local scores.  I had an exhausting work week and look forward to plenty of relaxation over the next few days.  Hooray for rain.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tasty Quinoa Nori Rolls!

With the official start of Summer just around the corner, warmer days, and more daylight hours I've started to want meals that are fresh, cool, and quick to prepare.  Last night I made a light, satisfying meal that will definitely be a part of this summer's regular dinner rotation.  Nori rolls are a fantastic summer time favorite because they're easy to make, the flavor combinations are endless, and they're the perfect vessel for those odds and ends of veggies that need to be used.

Quinoa is the grain of choice at my house these days, so I put a pot of it on the stove while I prepped the veggies.  This is what I had on hand:  crimini mushrooms (sauteed while the quinoa cooked), avocado, carrot, red bell pepper, green onion.

Quinoa takes 20 minutes to cook.  That's how long it took me to get everything else prepped.  As soon as the quinoa was done I started rollin' the nori.  No need to cool.

I prefer the raw nori sheets.  Start by spreading a layer of quinoa on 1/3 of the sheet, sprinkle with black sesame seeds, then top with your fillings of choice.  I made each roll a little different.

After everything is rolled up, start slicin'.  Or not.  You can leave the rolls whole and just eat them like burritos.  I like to cut mine into bit size slices for less messy eating.

That's peanut sauce on the side for dipping.  We're not very traditional about our meal combinations around here.  We tend to let the cultures mingle and go with whatever sounds good at the moment and last night peanut sauce won for a Northwest/Japanese/Thai fusion creation.

Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce
1 1/2 cups chunky, fresh ground peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons gluten free tamari
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

In a bowl mix the peanut butter, coconut milk, water, lime juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, ginger, and garlic. 

A friend of mine saw my post about these on Instagram and said her favorite nori roll combo is sweet potato, basil, and avocado with sweet chili sauce.  I think that sounds great!  I love that there are so many possibilities for fillings and dipping sauces.  

These keep pretty well overnight in an airtight container, so make extra and pack them for an awesome work lunch the next day!  Or take them on a picnic.  

Do you make nori rolls?  What are your favorite fillings and dipping sauces?  I'd love to have a list of ideas of future nori nights.  Oh, and happy Friday!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Smoked Paprika Lime Tacos with Jackfruit, Quinoa & Black Beans

Sometimes adjusting back to reality from vacation mode is kind of rough.  I could have stayed in sunny Austin for at least another week or two.  So, in an attempt to bring some of that vacation feeling home to Portland I made tacos, one of our favorite Austin meals.  

And not just any taco.  And by no means a traditional taco.  But a jackfruit, black bean, quinoa, smoked paprika lime taco.  Let's start with the jackfruit.

Julienne one can of jackfruit, drained and rinsed well.  Add enough of your favorite taco sauce and seasonings to cover.  Simmer over medium heat until soft.  This takes at least 30 minutes.  Use a fork to mash and break up the jackfruit. 

Jackfruit taco filling is a real palate pleaser because it's sweet, salty and spicy.  While your jackfruit is simmering and making your kitchen smell like heaven cook a pot of quinoa.  Add a little lime juice, cumin, and sea salt.

Put on a pot of black beans or black refried beans.  Add some salt and lime and hot sauce.  Keep them warm while you saute crimini mushrooms with garlic.

Every taco must have avocado.  Mash up an avo with some lime juice, black pepper and sea salt.  Add some chopped onion, chopped tomato, and garlic.  

Ok, the last prep step before we build our taco is the smoked paprika lime cream sauce.  In a high speed  blender combine 1 cup cashews, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and sea salt to taste.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  This sauce is so good!  You'll have extra, so keep it in the fridge and use it as a veggie dip and salad dressing.

Ok, it's time to build a taco!  First, use a dry cast iron skillet over medium high heat to soften the corn tortillas.  Heat on each side until warm, soft and starting to brown.   After heating each tortilla put it on a plate covered with a towel to keep it warm until you're ready to eat.

Now, for each taco I use 2 tortillas on a plate about 3/4 overlapping each other.  Start with a spread of beans down the middle and some quinoa.

Next up, jackfruit taco filling. 

Pile on sauteed mushrooms, guac and the smoked paprika lime cream sauce.

Top with shredded cabbage, fold and eat.

This may seem like a lot of steps, but it doesn't take much time. Each step is quick and simple and the final product is totally worth it.  Of course you don't have to go all out taco crazy like I did.  You can make your own version using any of these components, but I highly recommend the smoked paprika lime cream sauce.  It's really yum.  These would be great on lettuce leaves if you don't do corn tortillas.  

You will most likely have left-overs.  I put them on a bed of spinach and cabbage for awesome work lunch salads.

Taco night was a big hit!  I have so many ideas for flavors and fillings.  We'll have to do it again soon.  

Hope you're having a nice Sunday!  Today's agenda includes a trip to the farmers market and pizza night.  I love Sundays. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eating My Way Through Austin, Texas

In my last post I mentioned that I was taking a much anticipated vacation to a place full of music and vegan eats.  In case you didn't guess, that enchanting place was Austin, Texas.  Austin has been on the top of my vacation list for years.  I must admit, though, that I was having so much fun that I didn't take many photos.  And those that I did remember to take were snapped with my phone instead of my camera, so I apologize for the quality.

Know this: Austin is overflowing with vegan eats.  I made a long list of places to try and didn't even come close to getting to all of them.  Guess that means another visit soon.  We did take part in the Austin breakfast taco craze more than once.  Tacos are everywhere and most places have a vegan and gluten-free version.  I can't remember the name of some of the smaller places we visited, but the flagship Whole Foods store in Austin has a taco bar where you can build your own creation.  They offer rice, quinoa, beans, veggie chorizo, and a variety of veggies, hot sauces, and condiments.  We had our first and last breakfasts here.  Whole Foods also has a juice/smoothie bar and a raw food bar.  Healthy convenience while traveling = YAY!

While Austin offers plenty of healthy vegan food it also has an equal amount of vegan fast-food junk-food.  Of course I indulged in all of it.  Like Portland, Austin has an abundance of food carts.  Actually, way more than Portland!  Most with vegan options and a lot with gluten-free options as well.  

This Freeto Pie came from the Vegan Yacht food cart.  I was a little bummed that this was the only menu item they offered while we were in town.  I'm guessing this was due to the truck's location in the heart of Chaos In Tejas (the music event we were in town for) and the hundreds of vegans they were serving every day.  Still, it was really good!  Hearty chili with corn chips, avocado, and daiya cheese.  Next time I'm in town I'll be trying the Garden Chalupa and Mock Chick'n Tacos, both gluten-free.

Austin has a lot of juice.  I drank green juice, sometimes twice a day, all five days I was there.  The one pictured above is from Snap Kitchen.  Snap is a take-out store.  Everything is individually packaged in coolers and labeled according to diet (vegan, gluten free, paleo, etc.).  They have breakfast, lunch, dinner, sides, juices, and snacks.  I didn't take photos, but we had quinoa-banana pudding, raw raspberry cheesecake, tabbouleh (not gluten free), and babaghanouj.  All delicious, fresh, and healthy.

Now for more vegan junk food. These are the equivalent of an avocado corn dog!  Seriously, chunks of avo deep fried in corn meal batter served with mustard for dipping.  (Sorry about the crappy late night phone pic)

This is the basket before we tore into the deep fried avo, with sweet potato fries on the side.  The avo balls were not gluten free.  I had a bite anyway.  I totally paid for it, but I really wanted to taste them, and it was worth it.  I have a serious thing for sweet potatoes, and the fries here were fantastic.  This late night snack was from the Fire and Soul food cart. 

Nomad Dosa is a vegan friendly gluten-free Indian food cart.  It was quite a ways from our hotel, but I was lucky enough to find it on one of my long-walk exploration days.  

I had a soft dosa with a spiced potato filling, cilantro and coconut sauce on the side, and coconut water.  This was one of my favorite Austin meals.  The fermented dosa was light and chewy and tangy and perfect.  I wanted to try all of the fillings and toppings and sauces.  Next time Nomad Dosa, next time.  

The filling matched my dress.  This is pretty much the only picture I have of myself from this trip.  And does it even count?  My leg just happened to be near the dosa.  Talk about forgetting to take photos.

I saved the best for last.  Sweet Ritual is a vegan ice cream parlor tucked inside Daily Juice Cafe.  I had pretty much been obsessing about visiting this place for weeks before the trip.  I started calling our Austin trip my vegan-ice-cream-vacation because all I could think about was soft serve from Sweet Ritual.  It did not disappoint.  Both Sweet Ritual and Daily Juice Cafe are amazing and ended up being my most favorite place in Austin.  If I were a local I would be a regular here.  I'm sad that I only have one picture, but I was seriously distracted by the awesome food, juice, ice cream, good company, and a sweet dog named Ash. 

The ice cream flavor of the week was earl gray.  I took mine straight up in a gluten free cake cone.  My bf had the awesomeness pictured above: chick-o-stick waffle cone, earl gray soft serve, peanut butter drizzle.  It was soooo good!  Too good for words.  Just go to Austin and go to Sweet Ritual.  Now. 

From the Daily Juice counter we had a raw taco and a juice.  The raw taco was a daily special and ended up being giant and tasty.  It was a dehydrated shell (red peppers and nuts maybe?) full of greens and taco nut-meat.  The juice was the Depth Charge: coconut juice, cucumber, celery, parsley, spinach, kale, romaine.  I went crazy over this combo and plan on recreating it at home.  I really wish we had  Daily Juice in Portland. Maybe I should quit nursing and open a franchise location?  Or just move to Austin and find a place within walking distance to Daily Juice/Sweet Ritual?  

This was the view of downtown from our hotel room.  It was hard to say goodbye to Austin.  The city is fun, the people are friendly, the sun shines, and there's vegan food galore.  We're looking forward to visiting again soon!

**Delicious foods not photographed include:  many green juices from various places, breakfast tacos and late night tacos, my first Korean meal (YUM), miso soups, sweet potato noodles with a variety of mushrooms and tofu and spicy sauce, one creamy soy latte, kombucha on tap at the bars, and a lot of coconut water!