Friday, May 31, 2013

Creamy, Dreamy Goodness! Vegan Mushroom Alfredo

I was drooling when I made this, and am drooling now just thinking about.  Don't think it is possible to make a creamy and rich dish vegan??  Think again, my friends!  It's crazy what you can do with certain ingredients

Once again, raw cashews and nutritional yeast are your best friends.  I will post a similar recipe for those raw foodies out there very soon, so sit tight!

Vegan Mushroom Alfredo Pasta

For this recipe, I just kept on playing around with my ingredients to make it tasty and unique.  My secret is to blend in some of your sauteed mushrooms and onions to give the sauce an additional burst of flavor.

 Don't feel compelled to follow recipes exactly to the T.  This is why I usually don't use measurements.  Trust your taste buds and have fun.  There's no need to stress about the numbers!

Pasta of your choice (I usually use high fiber pasta or brown rice pasta)
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 c nutritional yeast
1/2 lemon
2 garlic cloves
1/4 c veggie broth (can sub with water)
1/4 c non fat coconut milk
10 button mushrooms sliced
1/4 red onion sliced
EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
s + p
dried thyme
chopped basil for garnish

boil your pasta accordingly 
soak raw cashews for at least 2 hrs.  (remember if you don't have time to soak, microwave the cashews in water for 3 minutes) .  In a pan saute your red onions and mushrooms in EVOO until soft.  Add s + p to taste.  Take 1/4 of your mushroom/onions and place in blender.  Add your cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic cloves, veggie broth and coconut milk to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add s + p and thyme to taste.  Check the consistency and add more broth (or water) if need be.
 Transfer your sauce to a pot and heat.  Add your pasta and the left over sauteed mushrooms and onions.  Place on your favorite dish and sprinkle on some fresh basil.

So perfect for a fun dinner to impress your friends!  Enjoy

Check Out These Coconuts!! The benefits of coconut water.

Coconut water is definitely a staple in our household.  Actually both coconut water and coconut milk.  I can honestly say that I see it everywhere these days and it is no surprise why!  Coconuts are packed full of nutrients and contain a variety of health benefits.

 So not only is it deliciously refreshing during summer months, but its also great for electrolyte replenishment.  So, toss that gatorade to the side and opt for natures choice!

Looking to lose weight?  Coconut water is a isotonic beverage that help's increase the body's metabolism.  It will curb your hunger and help digestion!

Looking to maintain your youthfulness?  It has been proven that this tasty beverage can help with wrinkles, acne and age spots due to lauric acid and cytokinins that are found in the fruit.  This helps regulate cell growth and their divisions.  You can even apply coconut water directly to the skin before going to bed to help with your skin problems.

Most importantly, this stuff just tastes darn good!  One of the best things to drink on a hot summer day!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sexy Fiesta Time! Stuffed Avocado Burrito Bowl

This recipe is seriously one of my all time favorites.  It is vegan, gluten free and oil free.  And, even better the flavors are fresh, clean and just flat out yummy.  So perfect on a warm, muggy day.  You are left feeling energized and full without feeling bogged down and sluggish.  Who wouldn't want to eat this???  And, the cilantro-lime oil free salad dressing is amazing!

Stuffed Avocado Burrito Bowl

Some fun little facts that some of you did not know about one of my favorite fruits (yes technically it is a fruit):

The Aztec word for avocado is ahuactl.  This translates to "testicle tree".

Avocado has the highest protein and fiber content than any other fruit and more potassium than a banana.

It takes about 5-7 days to ripen.

To speed up the ripening process, place in a paper bag with an apple.

3.5 large, ripe avocados
1 c brown rice
2 c water
1/2 c black beans
1/2 c corn (canned)
1 diced medium tomato
1/2 diced red onion
1-2 bunches romaine lettuce
taco seasoning
2 limes
1 bunch cilantro
1 tsp sugar
jalapeno hot sauce (or your favorite mexican hot sauce)
tortilla chips (optional for garish)


The "Meat Filling":
 In a pot, add brown rice and 2 c water, bring to a boil and cook about 20-25 minutes.  Keep your taco seasoning aside until rice is cooked, then add enough to flavor.

The salad:
In the meantime, take 3 avocados, slice around length wise and twist apart.  Spoon out the seed and discard.  Be cautious not to break or tear the avocado skin, as we are using this as a "bowl" to fill.
Cut the avocado (not the shell) both length wise and width-wise to create nice little cubes, then just spoon out into a bowl.  Add in the black beans, corn, tomato and red onion.  Drizzle some fresh lime juice and toss - This will keep the avocado the nice vibrant color.  Chop up about 1 or 2 bunches of romaine and just place on each of your plates

Cilantro-Lime Oil Free dressing.
In a blender, combine the cilantro, juice from 1 lime, sugar, salt, 1/2 avocado and about 3/4 c of water.  Blend.  Alter your seasonings by taste.

Once every component is done you should have this:  Chopped Romaine on a plate, your salad mixure, taco seasoned brown rice and your dressing.

 From here, take each avocado "shell" and spoon in the taco brown rice mixture, spoon in your salad mixture and place on top of the bed of lettuce on your plate.  Sprinkle over your cilantro lime dressing and garnish with some tortilla strips. 

Sexy Fiesta Time!!!

Tip of the Week....It's Okay To Be Salty.

Himalayan Pink Salt, that is!  Of course, always eat everything in moderation, but there are quite a few health benefits to this unrefined, raw salt.

Similar to refined sugar, refined table salt contains next to non of the trace elements.  There are no key minerals and nutrients that your body needs.

An easy tip to remember when buying salt is don't be fooled by the term "sea salt".  Virtually all salts are sea salt.  To tell what a full spectrum sea salt is, just look at the color!  You want your salt to be a sandy rose color (Himalayan pink salt)  or a brownish sandy color (Celtic Sea Salt).

So, what do these full spectrum salts have?  They contain a broad range of trace minerals such as
magnesium and potassium, necessary for health and which help the body metabolize the sodium better.  Unrefined rock salt can contain more than 90 different trace elements and actually hydrates the body, unlike refined salt that dehydrates you.  And, what's cool is that the full spectrum salts require no digestion - it is ready for immediate use by the body when dissolved in water.

So, next time your at the store, put that cute little Mortan salt girl down and opt for the healthier choice!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spring Cleaning! ..... Add a little sumpin' sumpin' to your water

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian or a full on meat eater, this simple concoction appeals to everyone!  So here is the scoop on this ever so popular "detox" water:  By adding certain fruits, veggies and herbs, you are giving your body boosts of nutrients, enhancing your digestive system and flushing those nasty toxins.

We all know that drinking water is great for our bodies,  but here are the health benefits of infusing it:

Cucumber/Mint :Cucumbers are a great source of vitamins C and K, are a diuretic and a great source a fiber.  Mint leaves are a nice refreshing flavor to add to your drink. On top of that, it can help you digest more effectively, improving the flow of bile from the liver, to the gallbladder, to the small intestine, where it breaks down dietary fats. Mint also helps relax cramped up stomach muscles.

Strawberry/Basil:  Strawberries contain dietary fiber to help with digestion, lowers blood pressure, helps with overeating and serves as an anti-inflammatory.  Basil relieves stress and clears skin.  Plus, this just looks sexy and beautiful.

Lemon/Ginger:  Lemon and ginger juice helps stimulate and regulate the digestive track (which is why it’s so helpful with constipation, heartburn and gas), stimulates bile production, and thins out bile, which allows it to flow more freely.

Not only are these infused waters healthy for you, but are a perfect and refreshing non-alcoholic beverage for those hot summer days!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Baba What? Baba Who?......Roasted Red Pepper Baba Ghanoush

Not everyone knows what Baba Ghanoush is.  Or maybe you do, but I put a fun twist on this classic middle eastern dip.  The main ingredient is eggplant.  I personally have never liked this spread that much.  But, whatever I did today in my "plantry' has forever changed my mind.  That purple veggie has never tasted so delicious. 

I made a few variations to the typical baba ghanoush recipe, either because I wanted to make it my own or because I didn't have certain items in my "plantry".

Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Baba Ghanoush

I was a bit ambitious today and decided to make my own whole wheat pita triangles as well.  They are a great accompaniment to this dip along with fresh cut veggies. 

1 eggplant
1 red pepper
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp hummus (or tahini)
s + p

preheat oven 375.  Slice the eggplant lengthwise into how many slices you prefer.  Cut the red pepper in half and clean out the seeds.  Lightly oil the eggplant and red pepper and place on a baking tray with the garlic.  Bake eggplant and garlic for about 15 minutes.  Rotate the red pepper so all sides are blackened, total time in the oven being 25 minutes.  Place the red pepper in a plastic bag and let it "sweat" for about ten minutes, then peel and disregard the blackened outside layer.

In a blender, blend all of the ingredients until smooth.  Let cool in the refrigerator and enjoy at a get together, for an appetizer or for a great snack!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

You've Got the Right Stuff, Baby....I'm talking about these Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Great, now I have the New Kids' song stuck in my head and apologize if you do as well.  Portabella mushrooms are a great substitute for meat dishes and are very appealing for non-vegans as well!  This is a nice, hearty recipe, using soy chorizo to put a fun little spin on this pretty well known dish.

                     Vegan Soy Chorizo Stuffed Portabella

Trader Joe's has a very flavorful vegan soy chorizo.  Does it taste like the real stuff?  I really haven't a clue because I haven't had meat in over 20 years.

If you are soy free, you can chop up some raw walnuts or pecans and season them with Mexican spices. This will give you the same flavor profile and is a fun, unique change.

portabella mushrooms (cleaned and destemmed)  save the stems filling
3-4 button mushrooms chopped
1 garlic clove chopped
1/4 yellow onion chopped
1/2 package of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo
1/4 tomato chopped
handful of spinach
whole wheat bread crumbs
s + p

Preheat oven to 350.  Brush the portabella's with evoo, season and put in oven for 10-15 minutes.  In the meantime, sautee the rest of the ingredients, except for the bread crumbs and spinach.  Once the veggies are golden brown, add in the spinach until wilted.
Stuff the mushrooms with the filling and dust the tops with the whole wheat bread crumbs.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Now STUFF you face!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Yum Yum Dim Sum....DIY Dumplings

DIY dumplings= damn it's yummy steamed siu mai and gyoza in a savory mushroom soy broth!  Don't be intimidated, it sounds a lot more difficult than it actually is, especially if you buy the gyoza wrappers at your local market.  I made the mistake of making my own, which became a ginormous headache.

So here is the beauty of these little guys- you can literally stuff them with whatever you want.  For the open face siu mai, I just blended some edamame and garlic with a touch a sesame oil.  Very delicate, light and tasty!  As for the gyoza, I went with shitake shroomers, ginger and onions. 

 This is perfect for a dreary day when you are craving something savory and comforting!  Cuddle up with you pup and have a nice bowl of dumplings.

Keep in mind, you can form your dumplings anyway you want.  You can fork them closed or make them open-faced.

2 tsp evoo
1 small onion
1 garlic clove minced
1 carton veg. broth
8-10 dried shitake mushrooms
4 tbls soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 cup shelled edamame (cooked)
minced ginger
minced garlic
shitake or portabella mushrooms

For the broth, saute the minced garlic and onion in the evoo until golden.  Add the veggie broth, shitake mushrooms, soy sauce and sesame oil.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 15-20 min.

In the meantime, blend the edamame, garlic and a touch of sesame oil.  Take that mixture and spoon into each gyoza wrapper.  (make sure you lightly oil the wrappers)  To close, diagonally wrap the wonton and use a fork to seal.

As for the mushroom wontons, sautee ginger, garlic, onion and mushrooms.  salt to taste, and wrap the same way as above.

Place dumplings in a steamer on high for 15-20 minutes.  Combine the broth and dumplings and garnish with chopped cashews and scallions.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Roll it up, Heat it up, Inhale!..... Vegan Eggplant Rollatini

Ok, maybe don't inhale this dish.  Take your time and enjoy!  It's a pretty simple recipe using extra soft tofu and nutritional yeast for the ricotta filling.  I was weary about how this was going to taste, but it turned out to be delicious and creamy.  Low carb, low fat, high in nutrients, high in flavor.

You can absolutely play around with the filling.  I used kale and spinach, but use whatever you have in you "plantry".  Some nice sauteed mushrooms would be a great addition and would make this recipe a bit heartier.

1/2 block soft tofu
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
italian seasoning & salt
garlic powder
1/2 eggplant sliced into long strips (use mandolin if have)
1/4 diced red onion
kale and spinach
1 garlic clove
tomato sauce
vegan mozzarella

preheat oven to 375.  For the "ricotta", blend the top 5 ingredients until smooth.  Lightly brush each slice of eggplant with evoo and salt.  Sautee the garlic, red onion and your leafy greens.  Mix the "ricotta" and sauteed vegetables together.  Spoon the mixture in the center of each eggplant piece and roll 'em up.  Place in a lightly oiled baking dish, cover with tomato sauce and sprinkle with the vegan mozzarella.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

tip:  vegan cheese is hit or miss.  So far, my favorite brand is daiya. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Light Late Night Snack....Baked Eggplant "Fries"

Ummmm, yes please!  I am a sucker for snacks, especially late night ones.  Instead of running to that vending machine for some crappy, preservative filled chips, check out what you have in your "plantry".

I am not one to love eggplant, though this recipe sure does do this plant justice!  And, it sure does kill those late night munchies!  Quick, easy, pain-free!

 There are many variations of this, and I will make sure to explore more plant based ingredients similar to this one.  Play around with your favorite seasonings to make this your own.

Ingredients:  (yields 2 servings)
1/4 large eggplant (cut into rectangular slices similar to potato fries)
1 tbsp egg substitute powder mixed with the appropriate amount of water
1/4 c whole wheat bread crumbs
nutritional yeast
garlic powder
onion powder
italian seasoning

preheat oven to 450
 mix the bread crumbs, nut. yeast, salt, garlic & onion powder, and italian seasoning in a shallow bowl.  take your eggplant slices and first lightly brush with evoo, the dunk them into the egg substitute mixture, and then coat with the seasoned bread crumb mixture.

bake for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.  Serve with your favorite condiment.  I chose marinara sauce.

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding.....RAW Vegan Vanilla Pudding!

Oh wait, nobody around here eats meat!  Skip that part and go straight for the RAWmazing vanilla pudding.  I figured that yesterday's recipe was such a yummy success, why not try a vanilla pudding version?!

Once again, you are going to want to soak those nuts of yours!

 I usually soak them for at least 2-3 hours, or even overnight.  But, if you are not concerned about this recipe being raw, a way to speed up this process is to just boil your cashews until soft.  I personally have never done this method, but I don't see anything wrong with it.

RAWsome Vegan Vanilla Pudding Recipe:
blend the following until smooth:
1 c soaked cashews
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 of an avocado
1 tbsp raw agave nectar
fat free coconut milk (the amount depends on how you would like the consistency)

Fill your sexy glasses up with pudding, refrigerate for at least one hour and voila!  This is what you get:

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

RAWsome coconut/mixed berry and chocolate mousse

This mousse is just stupid good!  It's quite amazing how you can transform these simple ingredients to something so wonderfully indulgent.  And, compared to a traditional mousse, this is guilt free! 

This recipe is very versatile and easy to sub in or out some of your favorite ingredients.  It's seems like a really fun recipe to play around with!  This recipe is just for 2 servings.  Most recipes similar to this call for agave nectar or maple syrup.  I chose to try my own spin on raw vegan mousse, which made this even less expensive!

for the coconut/mixed berry mousse, blend the following:
 1/2 c raw cashews (soak cashews for at least 2 hours prior)
1/2 tbsp melted coconut
3/4 c mixed berries
ice water (play around with the amount to obtain desired consistency)
raw sugar (to your taste)

for the chocolate mousse, blend the following:
1/4 avocado
1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 cup raw carob chips
nonfat coconut milk (again, play around with the amount to obtain desired consistency)
raw sugar (to your taste)

Break out your favorite glassware and layer to your liking.  Refrigerate for at least on hour before serving.  A sexy, decadent desert to share with your loved ones!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

There's nothing wrong with being kneady.....

I wanted a challenge and have always been intimidated when it came to baking.  As you can see from previous posts, I really do not measure anything.  I leave measurements up to the taste buds.  Unfortunately you do not have much leeway with baking.  Surprisingly enough, this recipe ended up being some of the best baked bread I have ever had.   I rarely eat bread and had to stop myself from eating the entire loaf.

The great thing about baking your own bread is that you know what goes into it.  So many people do not realize how many preservatives are added in breads, along with the fact that eggs are in many breads as well.  This recipe is bursting with flavor and light and guilt free.

for the actual bread:
1 cup warm water
1 packet of yeist
2 1/2 cups of flour (add some extra for dusting)
1 tbsp EVOO

for the added pesto & olive mixture
blend the following EXCEPT kalamata olives
EVOO (the amount is to your desire.  I use less than more)
pine nuts or walnuts
1 clove garlic
tip:  if you do not have basil, replace it with kale, swiss chard, spinach or your favorite leafy green

Place warm water in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and sprinkle yeast over top.

  • Let sit 10 minutes - if the yeast doesn't get frothy or swell, toss it and go buy new yeast.
  • Add the flour, oil, and salt and turn the mixer to low.
  • Knead the dough for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic - after about 2 minutes, the dough should completely clean the bottom and sides of the bowl. If it does not, add additional flour, one spoonful at a time until it does.
  • Form the dough into a smooth ball and transfer to a lightly greased bowl  and let rise until doubled (1 hour on the countertop, quicker in a slightly warmed oven).
  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Lightly flour your work surface and work in sliced kalamata olives to dough
  • Gently stretch and elongate your dough round.
  • spread pesto mixture evenly onto dough and roll the dough into one long roll
  • slice the roll into thirds, then braid and form into a spiral
  • transfer to baking sheet and let sit for 30 min
  • bake for 25 minutes


    Faux Crab Cakes

    Holy flippin' delicious!  I was actually just playing around with some ingredients I had in my "plantry" and accidentally came up with something that resembled crab cakes.  Initially I was going to name them sweet potato cakes, but Faux Crab Cakes does this dish much more justice.

    Usually recipes like this contain real mayonnaise and high saturated fats.  By limiting the amount of oil and using some sort of vegan mayo, you cut out a great percentage of those unnecessary fats and calories, but still maintain the integrity and taste of the dish. 

    For this recipe:  play around with measurements to satisfy your taste buds.

    preheat oven 350

    1 cooked sweet potato
    1/2 cup cooked quinoa
    egg substitute powder (optional)
    red onion chopped
    1/4 c cooked black beans (optional)
    soy sauce
    1/2 tbsp garlic veganaise (if you have regular veganaise add garlic powder or fresh garlic)
    old bay
    s + p
    panko crumbs (can use regular bread crumbs as well)
    mix all of the above and form patties. add a bit more panko crumbs to the outside, just to cover the patties.
    bake 15-20 min or until lightly golden on outside

    sauce: blend the following
    garlic veganaise
    cherry tomatoes
    organic ketchup

    To be or not to be.....RAW: Raw Lasagna

    Yes, I admit I do like it raw.  I have teetered back and forth between being veggie and going raw ever since my trip to LA in 2003 when I dined at M.A.K.E.  It's pretty amazing how you can transform "live" foods into something that is typically cooked and made with completely different ingredients.  Best part is, it is freakin' delicious and extremely healthy!

    Raw mushroom lasagna 

    This raw lasagna is visually gorgeous, fresh and tasty.  If you choose to do this recipe, please note that creating it TRULY raw does take some time.  You will not be actually in the kitchen during all the time allotted, though you will need to let some items to soak or slow "cook" at very low temperatures.

    2 zucchinis
    1/2 c - 1 c cherry tomatoes
    button mushrooms
    swiss chard
    a few tablespoons of chopped walnuts
    1/2 lemon
    2 garlic clove garlic
    1 cup raw cashews
    1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    nutritional yeast
    salt, pepper, onion powder
    balsamic vinegar
    dash of soy sauce (optional)

    For the lasagna "noodles":
    slice zucchinis into long strips (best to use mandolin) and lightly salt.  cover and refrigerate for a few hours or until at desired tenderness

    soak raw cashews in water for at least 2 hours.  Drain the cashews, saving some of the water for blending.  In a blender add: soaked cashews, apple cider vinegar, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste.  Blend to desired consistency.  If it seems too thick, add some of the water used to soak the nuts

    blend: raw swiss chard, raw walnuts, lemon juice, evoo, 1 clove garlic, salt & pepper.  If too thick, add a bit of water.

    red sauce:
    blend: cherry tomatoes, evoo, 1/2 garlic glove, basil and nutritional yeast.  let sit at least 20 min to marinate flavors

    marinate mushrooms and spinach in balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and s&p.  let sit for at least 2 hours.

    to form lasagna:
    start placing the noodles down first, then alternate all the above components in whatever order you desire.  you can make one large dish of this, or create personal size pieces.


    Tip: What's in your Plantry??? Back to the Basics!

    Unfortunately it is a well known fact that eating whole foods is expensive, which explains the abundance of fast foods in less affluent areas and the rise of obesity, hypertension and strokes.  Though, there are ways to keep prices down and still keep it sexy!

    Yup, that's right!  Buy in bulk and fill those mason jars.  This can even be done relatively cheap at Whole Foods in the bulk aisle!  Plus, you can find some goodies that you never knew existed.  Some great items to bulk up on are:  nutritional yeast, ANY kind of bean, quinoa, corn kernals, sea salt, etc.

    And if you are a food dork like me, this simple jarring puts a smile on my face.  Not only are all of your items easily visible, but it looks damn sexy!

    Who is Sarah and what's the plantry?

    A plant based diet meets a foodie.  Who would have known that there are endless opportunities out there to create a delicious and balanced plant based meal?

    I for one was a believer from the start of this vegan journey.  I have been a vegetarian since age 11.  After 20 years, vegan transformation was not all too difficult.  "But what about cheese??"  Ok, fine- that part really does suck.  Adios to all those delicious cheese plates accompanied by an equally delicious bottle of wine.

    What was the hardest part, you ask?...  My husband diving in head first into veganism.  Oh no- turning vegan wasn't hard for HIM per say.  It was hard for ME having him no longer eat meat, fish, dairy, etc.

    I may be a long time vegetarian, but am a true foodie at heart and love to be in the kitchen creating new, involved recipes.  I would basically make over the top, indulgent dishes that took literally all day to make, just to watch him eat it in minutes and listen to the lip smacking "hmmmmms".  Or, it would bring me pleasure to go out to eat and choose something that sounded fantastic on the menu, even though I wouldn't eat it.

    When I heard that he wished to start a plant based diet, and eliminate all preservatives and animal based products, I must admit, I was saddened for my own selfish reasons of not being able to cook those glutenous, oooey-goooey meals for him anymore.

    And well, that brings me here.  For all of those that love to cook and are plant based, I have compiled some recipes and tips that are equally (if not more) as enjoyable and won't actually hurt your body!!
    Some are more involved, some are quite simple.  Some are elegant, some are just home-style cooking.  Love the earth and what comes from it!  Celebrate it with these delicious recipes!