"Reinventing Indulgence" One meal at a time!

Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

Buffalo Cauliflower bites

IMG_4502Let’s cut to the chase- you could make anything “buffalo” style, serve it with a great dip and it would taste good. Admit it! I have never seen such a reaction to my vegan food as with this picture. It’s not like my friends are about to become vegan (although a girl can wish) but moreso that they can see the connection between something not healthy to something healthier. I’m all for that! Hence, my mission and name – Reinventing Indulgence.

Perhaps others can share my early addiction to buffalo chicken wings. One thing for sure, I had the best comparison there is. The best wings I had ever indulged in were at BJ’s in Fredonia, upstate New York and they were 10 cents; sorry folks but I don’t think it’s there anymore. I have been to Anchor bar in Bufflao where they boast “Home of the Original Buffalo Wing”; they were good but I still thought BJ’s wings were better- crispy not wet. Anyone from Buffalo can tell ya.. they know wings! It’s interesting how we all get so far removed from the animal when discussing eating choices, good times and the memories associated. It’s actually so odd now even saying it.. wings. We eat (ate) the wings off a bird and deep fry them in hot sauce. It’s kinda gross and of course not to mention – cruel. So I’m glad to see the craze returning for something that does not involve an animal part. Although like I said, you can pretty much deep fry anything and throw it in hot sauce.

Cauliflower. Here we go – you don’t have to deep fry or even fry it. You can bake these. I have heard a few of my friends making these and have been excited to try it. I have had pretty good vegan wings – V Spot in Brooklyn, made from soy and Champs, also in Brooklyn, made from tempeh.

Cauliflower works for me so I made a first attempt.

IMG_4428IMG_4430Umm- not so good!
I somewhat followed a PETA recipe with my nonchalant ADD type of way.
Take (1) – it didn’t taste very well. I used whole wheat flour. I have four flours in my home at the moment – coconut, potato, whole wheat and Teff. The funny part is- I don’t even use them except to experiment. And that’s what this was. I used the whole wheat flour and soy milk. I dipped the cauliflower pieces in and baked it.

CALRVBrWgAAcqOvThey looked, felt and tasted gummy – in addition, I made a mess. The messy part was not surprising but the gummy was. Yuk. I dosed it in this amazing Brown’s Tahini Buffalo sauce that I bought at this past NYCVEGFEST. It was beginning to taste pretty good. I re-baked it like a few recipes say to do. The flavor seemed to get lost a bit. Afterwards, it was just ok. (For the record they were better on day 2.)

I had to try it again.

Take (2). This time I asked my friend Rachna and she jumped in excitement with her method which was using chick pea flour and club soda. Hmm.. now it’s getting interesting. I bought another head of cauliflower and tried it again. This time though I didn’t have that cool hot sauce. I had mexican hot sauce. I stopped by my favorite place to pay for over market-price fun niche items. I went in for E3 Live- came out spending $166 and didn’t even get the hot sauce because they didnt have Franks, which is my favorite. Funny thing, Whole Foods had a bunch of other sauces but I had to put a few down because of corn syrup (GMO) and egg whites, butter etc. It really shouldn’t be so difficult. It’s just hot sauce. It’s suppose to be vegan. IMG_4493

Back to the recipe; The buffalo sauce part called for butter – us vegans.. we got butter! No probs.. lets do this. I start mixing my hot sauce but it was super hot and not that thick so I had to add more butter. I started thinking.. this is not healthy lol But hey.. you think it is right because it’s cauliflower. I didn’t even get to the dip part. Just because it’s vegan- doesn’t mean it’s healthy. So I try to stop adding butter because I dont want a heart attack. I instead switch to tahini. Ok.. I like this. Next time though, when I’m in the mood for this, it’s Frank’s Red Hot or that cool Brown’s Tahini Buffalo sauce. Frank’s Original is definitely vegan. Surprisingly, even though the Frank’s “Wings” sauce says Natural Butter Type Flavor – it too is VEGAN! Major score!

Back to the butter ingredient in the recipe for a moment; dairy butter is fattening with a higher percentage of saturated fat than the vegan butter. It also comes from dairy cows fed a diet of GMO feed. Knock yourself out with the argument that you are using grass fed butter. Maybe one in 100k of you are. Do what you want but it’s still abuse at the animal level. As for those who want to indulge in vegan butter, it isn’t the healthiest thing either although you aren’t hurting any animals or supporting the dairy industry. There is plenty of research that saturated fats (especially from animals) and excess omega 6 fats should be minimized and I will definitely add to that and say especially when heated. That being said, remember my Mom’s favorite words.. “everything in moderation”! Food for thought: some doctors even say “no oil” at all – have you ever heard Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn MD. It’s definitely worth checking out. My favorite fats are flax, avocado, raw cacao, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil (not for heat) and extra virgin coconut oil, raw or to heat for sautés.

I know this blog is for my non-vegan friends so let me get to it:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Wash and cut the cauliflower into bite size pieces like 1 to 2 inches
  • Make a flour batter. I used Bob Mills garbanzo & Fava flour but regular garbanzo bean flour is good. I used between 1/4 to 1/3 of the bag for one head of cauliflower.
  • Mix it with some club soda– not too little, not too much. You don’t want the batter dripping thin but also not too thick and clunky. My friend said to use a cookie wire rack for the pieces of cauliflower to drip off after you dip them in the batter. I said, “do I look like a cookie maker to you?” lol. I had no idea what she was talking about! If you have it – use it!  You can put tin foil underneath so you don’t make a mess like I did. Actually, it’s called a cooling rack. I learn something new everyday! I’m not sure if they are technically made for inside the oven so please check what it’s made of. Many people do use it for that purpose but you should be careful of non stick surfaces in high oven temperatures. My friend likes it because the cauliflower can cook from underneath while dripping off excess batter. I am researching as I write; the oven friendly version is called a roasting pan if you want to get fancy.
  • Cook for 18 minutes. This is important. It’s best you don’t over cook it or they will be mushy. If you aren’t a professional baker with all sorts of equipment, then they might stick to the pan even, if you did grease it with coconut oil like I did.
  • Prepare the hot sauce mixture: approximately, 1 cup hot sauce and 1 tablespoon of vegan butter (have extra on hand of both if needed). I’d be lying if I didn’t say I used less hot sauce and more vegan butter. I added tahini as well. As previously mentioned, next time I will use Frank’s Red Hot and follow the recipe more precisely.
  • I put the baked cauliflower in a stainless steel bowl. I slowly and gently added the hot sauce mixture. You dont want the cauliflower to break apart or get mushy.
  • IMG_4495The recipes generally say to “rebake” for another 8 – 10 minutes. My friend said don’t rebake.”  I agree. I may try it again and do a taste test. Honestly, it was already great! How was i to wait another 10-15 minutes to eat it?
  • The “blue cheese”. Urgh.. you know how I feel about the overrated marketing trap of the dairy industry. Who needs blue cheese? The Buffalo Cauliflower Dip I made was so delicious. I used Hampton Creek’s JUST MAYO. Non vegans are raving about this. Weird but great! I roughly followed this recipe from 86lemons except I used more tahini and forgot about the tofu. Will try that next time.
  • So to sum up the dip part: I used approximately 3/4 cup Just Mayo, 1/4 cup tahini, fresh squeezed lemon, teaspoon apple cider vinegar, almost a tablespoon red wine vinegar and then garlic powder, give or take. I’m sorry, I need a class in recipe writing for sure!

Whatever the wing is.. soy, tempeh, cauliflower or any other vegetable, it’s still going to be all about the hot sauce, the dip and the lovely cut carrots and celery that make you feel like you didn’t just consume 500 calories. But hey.. if that helps you save the wings of one chicken then so be it. Go for it!

Visit my Pinterest to see other fun things you can do with cauliflower. Next up for me is cauliflower pizza. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

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Cheers to the sweet potato!

“I’ll start juicing as soon as I get the right juicer or blender –
which one should I get?”
How many times have you said that? Anything to procrastinate right?

I might have a Vitamix but my Mom has style and grace! I was going for a pre-Thanksgiving day visit (yes it’s time to catch up on my blog entries). I had been on a smoothie kick and wanted to try something new and see if my Mom would get into smoothie making. It’s a quick and easy way to have a nutritious meal or snack. I was tempted to bring my Vitamix but figured my Mom would for sure have a blender. She has every kitchen appliance you could imagine or so I thought. I was bummed out with my sweet potato in hand as I realized there was no blender to be found. There was just a cheap $15 shaker/ mixer from who knows where. I was determined to make this shake even if it meant whisking or beating the ingredients by hand! It was called a Thanksgiving smoothie.

Don’t worry as I catch up on blog posts; you don’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to have this. It’s super healthy and packed with nutrition. Besides, everyday should be Thanksgiving anyway!

Sweet Potato Nutrition

  • Exceptionally rich in beta-carotene which the body converts to Vitamin A
  • Vitamin A is important for eyesight, growth & tissue healing, healthy skin, antioxidant protection and our overall immune system health.
  • Not considered a “nightshade” vegetable for those interested in reducing inflammation

I was amazed that this cheap little plastic shaker not only worked but did the job quite well. You know what that means right? NO EXCUSES! Anyone can do this anytime. The only real catch here is that you have to bake a sweet potato in advance. Sweet potatoes are amazing – loaded with nutrients. You can make a few at a time, refrigerate and then throw them in this smoothie to go.

 

IMG_3021I pretty much just followed the recipe here.

Spinach
Almond milk
Sweet potato (baked)
Frozen mango
Nutmeg
Cinnamon

A bit nervous about drinking my typical Thanksgiving vegetables, I was amazed how good this tasted. Although we began with a cheap shaker, I for sure couldn’t beat my Mom’s glassware and table setting.
It turned out to be a wonderful smoothie lesson. If anyone is procrastinating, now you know just go for it!

 

Disclaimer: The information given here is for educational purposes only. You should not use this to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified health care provider.

Couscous stuffed bell peppers

IMG_2746Before the day and age of Pinterest, one would simply rip a recipe out of a magazine and go make it. My Mom still likes to do this. So there we were driving upstate and discussing the ingredients. It’s a good thing too because after the pumpkin picking, we headed into the Woodstock supermarket without, of course, the recipe and ingredient list. We lost it – for the record, this is why Pinterest is better lol. We winged it. I believe I had made them before except with wild rice. The couscous came out delicious. We stuffed them in the peppers and had a few light yet satisfying meals.

IMG_2748Couscous
Vegetable stock
Onions
Scallions
Cilantro
Grape tomatoes
Chick peas
Sea salt
Bell peppers
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

IMG_2764We cooked the couscous at about a 1.5 : 1 ratio of liquid to grain and then simply mixed in the spices, scallions, finely chopped cilantro and chick peas. It was already delicious right here. Then we stuffed it into the bell peppers and baked them. Afterwards online, I noticed that some people keep the tops to the bell peppers to put on after they are baked for a photo. I missed that photo opt. This is a great mini meal- healthy, tasty and fulfilling.

IMG_2752

Yes I confess, that is cheese on the left side. My Mom and I cooked this dish together. She supports my vegan lifestyle and helps with ideas. I can only push my values so far. I’m not going to argue with the one who brought me into this world lol. I wouldn’t win anyway. Cheese it was (on her side) and when I make it again, I will be prepared to sneak in the vegan cheese. Shhh.

Eat it RAW.. or not.

I guess you can say I have been in a spaghetti zone lately. It comes and goes but this week has been a hit with an amazing spaghetti squash recipe that I made. Those with addictive tendencies know that when we have something on our mind- it’s not over til’ it’s over. Might as well take that as an opportunity to “reinvent the indulgence”. The spaghetti squash was delicious and put me in the mood for another variety of spaghetti- this time with zucchini.

IMG_2859I began with the raw version. That’s the beauty of zucchini spaghetti- you can eat it raw, I was in the mood for a salad and of course I am far from boring in that department. I went for it. I have to say that I do love my spiralizer. It gives vegetables a twist.. literally! The zucchini spaghetti is probably the most famous of it’s uses although, I really need to experiment more with the other blades.

For now, it was about the gorgeous long strings of this spaghetti. I still had a garden fresh tomato so it was salad time.

IMG_2874
Zucchini strings

Fresh tomato
Finely chopped onion
Bell pepper chopped
Avocado
Artichokes
Olive Oil
Sea salt
Tossed and topped with a few pine nuts!

 

Some days I am in the mood for a salad and others I just need that home cooked feeling. I literally split this all in half and saved the second portion for a meal the next day – this time cooked.
IMG_2879
For the cooked version, I added some chick peas, tofu and more artichokes that I had in the refrigerator. Of course I didn’t cook the avocado! avocado never makes it past the moment in my place- it’s just too dam good! I was feeling hot and spicy today so I added some vegan hot sauce and splurged with my low calorie spaghetti indulgence.

I even made my own vegan parmesan that I saw on a vegan Facebook site. It was so simple: 1 cup un-salted cashews to 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, sea salt and pulsed in a food processor.

I heated the pan with some coconut oil and did this quick sauté. I was actually feeling guilty afterwards but really there was no need. Luckily, after an hour or so, the guilt was replaced with an avocado chocolate mousse dessert that I knew I could indulge in. This too was vegan of course- I have blogged it before. Check it out!
All is well!

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Spaghetti squash – the encore!

Overwhelmed with social media?– guilty as charged. I almost forget sometimes- did I blog it, instagram it, tweet or Facebook it. I feel I am redundant but let’s be honest- with today’s attention span, most probably don’t remember and the rest probably didn’t even see it. Whatever, I still like to be authentic and not repeat myself. I’m like that DJ who doesn’t want to play the same song twice even though no one cares. Give the people what they want lol. I posted this photo in a couple of media outlets including a vegan group. I had no intention to blog it yet again but since it received so many raves with people asking for recipes.. hey why not?

IMG_2856This was one of my best ever spaghetti squashes. I made it for my Mom who is generally the one cooking for me- even the vegan dishes. This one’s for you Mom!

1 beautiful fall yellow spaghetti squash from the local farm stand! Shout out to upstate NY!
Glass baking dish with an inch or so of water.
I put the spaghetti squash in whole with nothing covering it. The oven was on 350 degrees which is why this one probably took longer than normal. Depending on the temperature, I’d say anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Turn it a few times so both sides cook evenly.

In the meantime, I took it back to a recipe my grampa used to make:

Grampa’s string bean, potato & swiss chard stew.  I did a version similar to this.

I put on a vegan sauce with onions, garlic, olive oil, basil, sea salt, black pepper, hot peppers and crushed tomatoes. I let this cook for a while and then added a huge bunch of farm fresh swiss chard and chick peas. Chick peas have been my go-to lately for vitamins and minerals. This was cooking beautifully as the squash was almost ready.
SpaghettiSquashTacos3_horRESIZED

I pulled the squash out and let it cool for a few minutes and then sliced it in half lengthwise. I love looking at it and watching it turn from this vegetable form into the most amazing and delicious spaghetti – full of flavor on it’s own. I scooped out the seeds gently and then forked away. You got it.. FORK IT! I placed the spaghetti on a plate and then poured my grampa’s recipe right over the top.

Amazing!

Simple Vegan Summer Rolls

summerroll2Imagine a carb-less wrap that’s vegan, gluten-free and low calorie. That’s how I think of my homemade summer rolls now.

Quite often I opt to order the summer rolls on a  menu as an appetizer. I really do love them and they are usually healthy– but I do this too, more so because they are often one of the only vegan options that are not fried or super white starchy. Even at vegan restaurants I choose this — again for the simplicity and light calories. I pay anywhere from $5- $9 for one or two and never really think twice about it. UNTIL… I made them! What a mark up! I feel like just opening up a summer roll shop and becoming rich overnight! Let’s see how many items we can fit in here for under 50 cents? This is one time you can’t say eating vegan is expensive. 

Summer roll, spring rolls- I sometimes get them confused. I get so excited sometimes that something is vegan that I forget to ask if it’s healthy. Most spring rolls.. I’ll say are not. Anything wrapped in white flour and then deep fried in who knows what exactly.. is not really adding to ones health. Of course it tastes good. If that’s what you are in the mood for, go for it! However, this is a simple option that you can even prep the night before for meals on the run. They hold well!

summerroll3

mistake – try again for a smoother feel

I was so excited when I stumbled onto vietnamese rice paper. I had no clue had to use them- seriously! I think I even had to YouTube it. So silly really because it’s so easy and you can make a whole meal in less then 10 minutes. The first time I tried to soak the wrap in the water for a couple of seconds it came out “not good” at all as you can see here. Just keep trying until you get it nice and smooth.

 

The HOW TO:

*Take a medium size frying pan and heat up some water- keep it shallow (and not boiling).  Hold the paper with two hands and dip it in for a few seconds until it is about to get really soft. Lay it on the working prep space.

*Wash and dry some greens of choice. I used spinach the first time and mixed greens the second.IMG_1199

*Chop up into thin slices some cucumbers, carrots or other vegetables. I also sliced up some avocado and tofu.  Of course now it’s over 50 cents but you can just keep it to vegetables. I wouldn’t use anything too watery. If you use tofu, cut and blot the tofu dry before wrapping. I like to add a little hummus to mine but try to make that in the middle so it doesn’t moisten the outside once wrapped.

*Roll it gently and it automatically sticks.

The dipping sauce

IMG_1200I like the peanut flavorings so I use almond butter with shoyu (or coconut aminos) – if you can’t find that, tamari works too. I add a little maple syrup for taste. It’s super delicious! I was in Whole foods recently and found the brown rice version of this paper. Wonderful!

If you would like some more tips on buying, using or storing rice paper, check out this link:
http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2009/06/vietnamese-rice-paper-buying-tips.html

 

 

 

 

10 vegetable vegan soup

This is the best vegetable soup I have ever made. I quite often wondered if I could replicate that warm fuzzy feeling of chicken soup. That was always my “go to” to feel better if I was sick, hungover or just feeling the blues. Dream come true and surprisingly – without any vegetable stock or bouillon cubes. I haven’t checked in a while but those things are usually loaded with MSG which I would feel right away.  Many people probably think.. oh.. it’s just soup. I quite often wonder however, how these stores make their hot soups for the public. Do they use all wonderful ingredients fresh and healthy or do they just crack open a huge can from a restaurant depot type store and call it their own? Perhaps, even a hybrid of the two.  In most cases, it’s salt city and sure it tastes good but what’s in it? What oils are used? Are there milk products in there? How much salt is tossed in or already loaded? Is everything from a can? Is it GMO?

This time it started with my guilty trip to BagelSmith in Brooklyn. Yes, I confess that I bend to convenience occasionally when I have to get up really early to work.. I get it lol. I still swear that bagels make you fat, amongst a million other junk food quick grabs. Generally, I bring my own food but today, I ordered a pumpernickel scooped out bagel (300 -100 scooped calories) with some tofu scallion spread and yes.. what’s in that too while we are at it? Anyway.. it’s vegan lol.  The point of the story is that they had a huge soup board with a row of regular soups of the day and a row of vegan soups. For this alone, I love this place. Although many shops carry soup right now and it’s freezing out, it’s still difficult to find a good vegan one when you want it. Obviously this catering to the vegans in a busy, quick & convenient 24 hour store made my day. Today it was “10 vegetable soup”.  I grabbed it for lunch and it was delicious. It kinda got me thinking.. I have never heard it called that before.. 10 vegetable soup. On my way home later in the evening, I stopped at the 24 hour vegetable stand by my home and picked up things to make my own full on vegetable soup. Honestly, I was just in the mood to create a feel good soup packed with nutrients and lots of broth.

Basic recipe:
I started with a sauté with oil, the onions and garlic. I usually always use red onions. This is the first time I wondered off in a while. Now I know where the crying comes in. I was actually crying! I never cry with onions. I believe it was a yellow onion although it could have been white. I used a lot more onion than normal in making a vegetable soup. I definitely felt it- both in the air and from the taste. I thought it would be too much but it came out perfect.

I chopped and diced away, adding to the soup as I went. It became a meditative moment. I used water 3/4 of a big soup pot. I actually didn’t have any vegetable stock on hand and was hoping that the flavor would just come anyway. I loved the aroma and feeling of cooking up some early winter soups and staying warm. For the fun of it, I was going to call it my 8 vegetable soup but then I counted and I literally had 10. My 10 vegetable vegan soup.. healing for the mind, body  soul!

Ingredients:
Yellow onion
Red onion
Garlic
Cilantro
Sun dried tomatoes
Carrots
Celery
Mushrooms- baby bellas
Potato- 4 or 5 average size red
Plantain- one green