Favorite Vegetarian Chili

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This easy chili can be thrown together in a few minutes and makes for a hearty weeknight meal.  It is a forgiving recipe so feel free to adjust based on the ingredients you have on hand.  The tempeh–a fermented soy product similar to tofu, but less processed–adds extra protein and heartiness.  Inspired by The Simple Veganista.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 carrots, diced

1 can (4 oz.) diced mild green chilies and/or 1 bell pepper (any color), diced

8 oz tempeh, cubed

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2-1 teaspoon chipotle powder, (depending on how spicy you like things)

1 can (15 oz.) red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cans (15 oz. or 1 28 oz.) diced fire roasted tomatoes

Salt to taste

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

Optional: sour cream, scallions, cilantro, avocado for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven.  Add onion and cook until beginning to caramelize, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, carrots, and bell pepper (if using).  Add tempeh and spices, cook for 5 minutes, or until veggies start to soften.  Add green chilis (if using), canned tomatoes, beans, broth and water.  Cook on low for 20 minutes or until flavors are melded and carrots are soft.  Top with desired garnish and dig in!

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Banh Mi Bowls

img_4318When I was doing my CNA training through the Red Cross I met a girl named Tam Tam who was Vietnamese.  She grew up there and moved to Philadelphia in her teens.  I asked her about my beloved banh mi and once she figured out what I was talking about because my inflection, or lack there of, made what I was trying to say incomprehensible, she laughed.  Apparently, in Vietnamese “banh mi” means nothing more than “bread.”  In the US, however, banh mi has come to mean much more than bread.  It is a delicious savory sandwich with pork, fresh cilantro, pickled radish, and cucumber and mayonnaise based spread.  My first taste of banh mi came when I was working at Whole Foods and our Prepared Foods Department had a special pop-up sale.  These flavorful sandwiches became a favorite! This recipe is inspired by on of my favorite bloggers.  Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

Lemongrass meatballs:

1lb ground pork

2 Tbsp. fresh or frozen lemongrass (or paste if you can find it)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. Siracha chili paste, or similar

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. coconut sugar (any kind will do, really)

2 tsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 tsp. salt

Quick-pickled radish and carrots:

2-3 carrots, cut into matchsticks

1 daikon radish, cut into matchsticks

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/4 cup coconut sugar (granulated will work too!)

1 tsp. salt

Cooked quinoa

Cilantro, be generous

Cucumber, sliced

Red cabbage, sliced

Green onion, sliced

Jalapeno, sliced

Sriracha mayo (mix a generous squirt of Sriracha with a spoonful of mayo + a spoonful of greek yogurt)

Directions:

Meatballs:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Roll into meatballs of desired size, I got 14 using 1lb of pork.  Heat a skillet with oil and add meatballs, browning on outside until cooked through.

Pickled veggies:

Combine all ingredients and let sit for 1 hr or longer.

Bowls: Assemble all ingredients on a plate and top with spicy mayo.  Enjoy!

Coconut Lime Banana Muffins

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I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot recently, not because I’m dying to publish to thousands of readers, but because I want to use it as a way to catalogue some of my favorite recipes and the tweaks I make to them.  I’m in full-on night shift mode and never really sure of the date or time so I’m escaping to the kitchen and trying not worry about which way is up.  I’m committing to updating this blog more regularly.  I’ll start with a favorite recipe I picked up from Cooking Light many years ago.  It’s a tropical twist on a traditional favorite–banana bread.  I like Cooking Light’s recipes for inspiration, but often they replace fat with excess sugar and the true health of the recipe seems unbalanced.  I’ve eliminated some of the sugar and added back a little fat, but you can easily keep it low fat if that’s your prerogative.  I will say, the lime glaze is the icing on the cake (pun intended) so don’t skip it!

Ingredients:

2 cups white whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed banana (about 3)

1/4 cup yogurt (whole fat, low fat, greek, plain, pick your poison)

3 Tbsp. dark rum

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

zest of 1 lime

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes + a sprinkle for the top of the muffins

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 Tbsp. lime juice (juice of 1 lime)

Directions:

Combine flour, baking soda, salt in a bowl and set aside.  With an electric mixer, cream sugar and butter.  Add eggs, mashed banana, yogurt, rum, vanilla extract and lime zest.  Add in dry ingredients blending until mixed and no clumps remain.  Stir in coconut flakes.  Pour into greased muffin tins.  I made 8 large muffins, but you can also make 16 small muffins or 1 loaf.  Bake at 350° until a wooden pick comes out clean.  About 22 minutes for large muffins, 18 minutes for small muffins, or 1 hour for a loaf.  Combine powdered sugar and lime juice and drizzle over warm bread.  Eat within a few days or store in freezer for more leisurely enjoyment.  The glaze makes this bread very moist so don’t let it spoil sitting out on the counter for too many days.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Patties

We have had a lot to celebrate this week! Most of our family was lucky enough to get together for a vacation for the week. Ann’s boyfriend, Dan, and his parents were able to join us as well, so our dinner tonight was a group effort. Our guests brought corn on the cob, which turned out perfectly sweet. It was my first corn on the cob of the season. Usually, it doesn’t quite feel like summer to me until I’ve had corn on the cob, but somehow I hadn’t gotten around to it until today!

Ann’s contribution to dinner was rainbow carrots, which came all the way with her from the CSA she is a part of. We roasted them in the oven with olive oil and salt and pepper. Simple, but delish. While they do not taste very different from regular carrots, but they made dinner look so much prettier than regular carrots!

To accommodate the various different diets present (pescetarian, vegan, omnivore…), I whipped up my favorite veggie burger recipe – sweet potato black bean patties. I love this recipe because it is so hard to mess up! And it proved to be a crowd pleaser this time too. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato

15 oz can black beans

2/3 cup quinoa, dry

½ onion, diced

1 lime, juiced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water)

2 Tbs wheat flour

pinch of salt and pepper

2 Tbsp olive oil, for cooking

Instructions:

  1. Wash sweet potato and pierce with a fork several times. Microwave for 3-5 minutes, or until soft. Another option is to roast the sweet potato in the oven for 40 minutes or until tender. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, cut in half and scrape out insides with a spoon.
  2. To prepare quinoa, rinse thoroughly in a strainer. Place in a pot on the stove with 1 1/3 cup water and bring mixture to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.
  3. To prepare a flax egg, mix the flaxseed and 3 Tbsp water and allow it to sit for 5 minutes in order to thicken.
  4. Drain and rinse black beans. In a bowl, mash them with the backside of the fork until they are mostly mashed. To the black bean mixture, add cooked quinoa, sweet potato, diced onion, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, flax egg, and flour. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Using a ½ cup measuring spoon, scoop out mixture and shape into patties. This recipe makes 6-8 burgers, depending on how generous you want to be. Let them sit for 15 minutes to come together more.
  6. Heat a skillet on medium heat with olive oil. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve with your favorite burger toppings – I suggest avocado and pico de gallo!

Coconut Pecan Granola

I’d like to say I’m a granola aficionado.  I’ve tried out many different combinations and this one will always be a favorite.  I’d urge you to make your own granola, because it is amazing how much sugar can be packed into the store-bought stuff.  Cascadian Farms Oats and Honey Granola used to be my favorite, before I considered that 14 grams of sugar in just 2/3 of a cup hardly constitutes anything more than a dessert.  I think the key to a good granola is using the right type of oatmeal.  Quick oats are already cut up, meaning they make a flaky, powdery granola.  Regular oats are a safe choice, but I have found that thick-cut oats (available in bulk at Whole Foods Market) make the best crunchy granola.  I’d highly recommend using them for your homemade granola endeavors.

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Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups thick cut oats

1/2 cup wheat bran or oat bran

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

1/2 cup pecans

2 Tbsp. coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup dried cherries

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.  Combine oats, bran, coconut, and pecans in a large bowl.  Melt the coconut oil and mix together with maple syrup and vanilla.  Spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Stir mixture and add dried cherries.  Bake for 15 more minutes, or until granola is browning and house smells fragrant.

This granola is delicious on its own, or in a bowl with milk or yogurt.

Why “More Than Kale”?

The title for this blog is based on the fact that there is more to healthy eating than gorging yourself in a bowl full of kale. Working in a health foods grocery store, as a healthy eating specialist, I was exposed to lots of customers looking to get healthy with one or two foods. One day it was white mulberries, the next it was dark cherry juice concentrate, and there was a distinct correlation between what Dr. Oz was touting as the new fat-blaster and what customers came in looking for. Some thought they’d overhaul their life by detoxing on concoctions of maple syrup and lemon juice. In the end, my best advice for healthy eating is what we’ve been hearing all along… eat fruits and vegetables! There is no magic potion to run out and buy for your fridge or pantry, but commit to spending most of your grocery budget on fresh produce and learn to enjoy it!  It is my hope that these recipes will help spark some appreciation for all the fresh goodness out there.

This veggie plate features a sweet potato with a pat of Earth Balance butter, tomato, mozzarella and basil salad, roasted beets with an orange vinaigrette, and sautéed kale with a bit of garlic salt.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

It’s summer and nothing tastes better than a red, ripe strawberry that sends juice dripping down your chin.  Okay, so I can’t recall ever having juice from a strawberry dripping down my face, but the image is so classically summer. I always freeze any fruit that looks like it might be going overripe.  It happens a lot with bananas and berries.  I also discovered that fresh rhubarb freezes quite well when cut in little chunks and can be used just like the fresh stuff.  For this recipe, we used frozen rhubarb and strawberries and it made it so easy!  Anyone out there looking for a recipe that is gluten-free and vegan, this is your dessert… but don’t fear butter lovers, this recipe will not disappoint.

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Ingredients:

1 cup rhubarb

1 cup strawberries

Zest and juice from half a lemon

2 Tbsp honey (more if you prefer a sweeter crisp)

1 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup chopped cashews

2/3 cup almond flour

1 Tbsp coconut flour

1 tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp honey

2 Tbsp coconut oil

 

Instructions:

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl (rhubarb through cornstarch) until well blended.  In a separate bowl combine next 5 ingredients (cashews through salt) and blend completely.  Combine honey and coconut oil until mixed.  Add honey and oil to dry ingredients and mix until well combined.  In a small baking dish or ramekin add the fruit mixture and top with crumble.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until fruit mixture just begins to bubble.  Top with vanilla ice cream for a perfect summer dessert!