Tag Archives: Vegan food

Healthy Recipes to Celebrate Your Labor Day Weekend

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Summer’s almost over, so enjoy this weekend with lots of colorful veggies.

Appetizers

Salads

Burgers/Sandwich/Sides

Desserts

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20 Vegan Recipes for Your Memorial Day Barbecue or Plant-Powered Get Together

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Appetizers

Salads

Burgers/Sandwich/Sides

Desserts

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Quick and Easy Vegan African Peanut Stew

Vegan-African-Chickpea-Stew

Peanut butter and warming spices make this Vegan African Peanut Stew with Chickpeas a cozy and delicious treat.

Generally speaking, I like to eat light, cool food during warmer months and heavier, hot food during the colder ones. So, even though it’s spring, when yesterday the weather turned a bit chilly, I realized I was craving something heartier than the things I’ve been eating lately (for example, Socca with nut cheeses and vegetables). In addition, for weeks now, I’ve had this really strong craving for peanut butter, but it’s generally not something I like to have around since it’s a definite weakness of mine. But when I had a lightbulb moment that crashed those two cravings together, I remembered the convenient excuse for peanut butter in a bowl, err, I mean, my love for African Peanut Stew, and realized I would just have to indulge myself. (It’s all about balance, right?)

My introduction to African Peanut Stew/Soup was at a Christmas celebration a few years ago. The idea of both peanut butter and coconut milk as star ingredients of a dish was truly scary (read: calories, fat), but I couldn’t exactly say no since the hostess had made a special batch vegan just for me by replacing the chicken with chickpeas. The first taste and the ones that followed were so sumptuous, I couldn’t help but relax and savor every bite. So, not surprisingly I associate that dish with happy times and cozy gatherings, not to mention special occasions. The warming aromas of ginger, cinnamon, and curry, not to mention peanut butter, makes for a decadent and soothing homey feel that is all about the pleasure food was meant to be.

Last night was just a Wednesday, but with the aromas of all that in the air, it felt like a special occasion, and the actual eating of the stew was a definite treat. And as my boyfriend eats very little of the kinds of food I eat (though he has become more adventurous and healthy over the years), I got it all to myself. Again. Even cold it’s awesome. (I checked before I had some for lunch today!)  The best part is it’s actually really easy to make. You could also do in the crock pot if you wanted to go the longer and slower cooking route.

Many versions call for coconut milk and most have chicken, but I don’t eat the latter and since the soup is not the lowest-calorie soup a person could have, I figured I would leave the coconut milk out as well. In addition, just about every recipe you will see is slightly different and may include, for example, celery, red bell pepper, and other ingredients not in this one. But the stew is like a chili in the sense that you can customize it for your taste. Regardless of the way you choose to customize it for your taste, I hope you enjoy it!

(Note: You know how sometimes you meet a person in real life after seeing their photo, and you’re like, ‘holy heck, this person is beautiful and photos don’t do him/her any justice!’ Well, that stew photo up there is like that. Partly because the beauty is in the flavors and the aroma, and partly because, clearly, I need to do some food photography study. It’s on the list, I promise! But all that’s to say, don’t hold that photo against my poor little stew.)

Ingredients

  • Olive oil for cooking
  • One onion (I used Vidalia to add more sweetness)
  • One sweet potato
  • 3 or 4 cups vegetable broth or water (more or less depending on the thickness you want)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Approximately ¼ cup chopped ginger root (or if eyeballing amount, it’s about three thumb-sized roots, or equivalent)
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1T curry powder
  • Kosher, sea, or pink salt to taste
  • Fresh pepper to taste
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1T tumeric
  • A few shakes of cayenne (about a teaspoon or so)
  • 4T chunky natural peanut butter
  • One small bunch of kale (lacinto, if possible)
  • One bunch of cilantro (it might look like a lot, but it cooks way down, but if you’re not a cilantro lover, do use less)
  • 2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, aka, garbanzo beans (or one large one)
  • Approximately ¼ small jalapeño or Serrano chili (optional, and to taste)

Top with:

  • Sriracha to taste (by which I mean lots and lots!!)
  • Crushed peanuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash all your veggies and drain and rinse your chickpeas. (Or work these steps in as you do other steps.)
  2. Coat soup pot with a little olive oil, then add finely chopped onion and sweet potato. Heat on low until softened. (It helps to add a splash of water after about five minutes. Also, watch closely and stir often to prevent burning.)
  3. Chop garlic and ginger. Add some of your water or broth to a blender, then add garlic and ginger, and blend on high until fully blended.
  4. Add tomatoes to blender and more of the water or broth and all spices except for the jalapeño or Serrano. Blend until smooth.
  5. Finely chop kale and cilantro in between other tasks.
  6. At this point, add to the blender the full amount of liquid you will be working with and to that add the sweet potatoes and onion. Blend until smooth and pour back into soup pan.
  7. Finely chop desired amount of jalapeño or Serrano. Be careful not to touch the chili—I used a knife and fork—and also be careful washing the utensils and cutting board. The juice can burn your skin, and the fumes can be hot.
  8. Add peanut butter, then taste and add more if desired. Add rinsed garbanzo beans, kale, and cilantro. Heat on very low for desired amount of time. This is a dish you can keep closer to raw or not, depending on how you like it. I heated mine just until veggies had softened.
  9. Serve hot (though it tastes delicious cold too), and top with a sprinkle of crushed peanuts if desired and lots of sriracha (which, on the other hand, is mandatory).

 

Serve over couscous or rice, or with toasted scali bread topped with Earth Balance.

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Vegan Lunch in New York: Peacefood Cafe

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I love going to New York for many reasons, but one is that the city offers lots of healthy and vegan options. On a visit recently, I happened on vegan restaurant Peacefood Cafe (Downtown) while I was out exploring around lunchtime. I’m thrilled I did. The restaurant and bakery I went to is located near Union Square; the original is on the Upper West Side. I did a quick scan of reviews, and it even seems to get raves from non-vegetarian types, which is always a good sign. In particular, people rave about their chickpea fries, but as just one person I could only eat so much.

I chose the Roasted Japanese Pumpkin Sandwich, which is seasoned and mashed pumpkin spread, topped with caramelized onions, ground walnuts, cashew cheese and greens. It was seriously delicious. (For starters, anything with cashew cheese gets my vote!) I’ve done a similar thing with butternut squash spread on a black bean, broccoli and roasted garlic burrito, but for some reason I’ve never thought to do that kind of thing on a sandwich.

peacefood-longshot_188x250As it was a bit carb-heavy, I also ordered a side of tofu. It was seriously the best “plain” tofu I’ve ever had. I asked the waitress how they made it and she said the tofu is simply sautéed and seasoned with salt and pepper. I’m not sure what their secret is to making such simple tofu taste so delicious but I do know I ate every bite. Besides sandwiches, they also offer paninis, pizzas, salads, soups, raw dishes, and fresh juices and smoothies. I’m not big on sweets but their baked goods get raves, and I may have to make an exception next time (raw cashew cream cheesecake anyone?).

It’s not a bargain spot (especially because there are so many enticing offerings), and some of the dishes are quite pricey, but that’s quite common in New York. On the other hand, I loved the airy bright feeling of the restaurant, although I read the Upper West Side is a bit more casual (though I’m not exactly sure what that means).

Here are a few other dishes that are giving me food for thought:

For a side: chickpea fries $7.95 an award winning recipe with a hint of Indian spices, served with the house dipping sauce

For a sandwich: tempeh avocado $9.75 baked marinated tempeh, creamy avocado, pickled radishes, shredded carrots and cilantro

For a calorie splurge: fried seitan medallion panini $12.95 with cashew cheese, arugula, tomatoes and pesto

For dinner: (raw) lasagna $17 zucchini, mushrooms, walnut cheese, spinach basil mix & tomato sauce with choice of 1/2 salad

Related:

Healthy Recipe Ideas from Organic Avenue, Juice Cleanse Comparisons

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Valentine’s Day Vegan Chocolates for the Veg in Your Life

Rose City Chocolatier Assorted Vegan Chocolates

Rose City Chocolatier Assorted Vegan Chocolates

Last Valentine’s Day my guy surprised me with a box of some seriously yummy chocolates. I didn’t even know fine vegan chocolates existed, and it felt awesome to have that traditional gift on the day o’ Hallmark love. The company is called Rose City Chocolatier, and my guy chose a box of assorted chocolates (there are different options), which was a great way to sample all the creamy decadence. I’m generally not a sweet person, err, I mean I’m not usually into sweets (I tend to like foods at the savory end of the spectrum), but I must say, I ate every single bite of heaven in that box.

VegNews, the magazine/website devoted to all things vegan, has a list of additional vegan chocolate companies, though I can only vouch for Rose City. In addition, VegNews has partnered with Rose City to create “the most perfect box of vegan chocolates imaginable” (though it’s hard to imagine anything better than what I had last year), and you can still enter to win a box on Valentine’s Day.

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Healthy Recipe Ideas from Organic Avenue, Juice Cleanse Comparisons

Organic Avenue, Chelsea Location

Organic Avenue, Chelsea Location

Health Inspiration in NYC

The week before last we went to New York City, which I always love. I can definitely see why people (such as my boyfriend) don’t love it—all the noise, crowds, etc., and I see those things. But for me the negatives are greatly diffused by the positives, such as cool restaurants, vibrancy, and diversity (in all ways). I especially envy the array of choices when it comes to plant-based foods, cool juice places, and yoga studios. One company I made sure to fit into our very short trip was Organic Avenue, which provides organic cold pressed juices, raw food cleansing programs, snacks, and other happy-making green foods. Just checking out their stores or their website inspires me to be healthier (as is true for a lot of healthy living companies) and makes me feel a little happier—all that green food/juice and vibrant color.

Though I realize companies like Organic Avenue are definitely in existence to make a profit, I also think the images and ethos put out by such companies (think also Nike, Lululemon, Athleta and the growing crop of healthy food brands) can be inspirational. And on that note, I recommend checking out the Organic Avenue website for healthy food ideas and for juice ideas. You may not go raw or sprout your quinoa, but I find the food combinations and photos of are extremely enticing (collard green wraps!) and good for some recipe inspiration. For those who are interested in doing a juice cleanse, see below for some articles/posts on Organic Avenue’s and others (I focused on comparisons), though be forewarned: You’ll pay a lot not to eat.

Juice Cleanse Comparison

Two Organic Avenue Recipes

On the homefront, here’s an easy raw carrot ginger soup recipe, in which Organic Avenue founder Denise Mari walks you through step-by-step. (Just substitute real ginger and a local carrot juice if you’re not near a Organic Avenue.)

And here’s a recipe for Organic Avenue Nori Wraps.

What about you: Have you ever done a juice cleanse or are thinking about one in the future? Do you find some companies inspirational?

[Note: This post is in no way sponsored but merely reflects my enthusiasm for all things veggie+healthy.]

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Meatless Monday Idea: Kitchen Sink Salad

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One of the easiest ways to participate in Meatless Monday is by having a big salad for one of your meals. Of course, I’m not talking a colorless ol’ iceberg lettuce salad with a few croutons. That won’t do much to fill you up—or make you feel like you actually ate. I’m talking a big and hearty salad that looks colorful, is rich in protein, is big enough to count as a meal (if that’s all you’re having), and is also is low-fat and low-cal. Think the Whole Foods salad bar, minus the Whole Paycheck price.

Of course, as with the salad bar, it’s all-too-easy to create a kitchen sink salad that’s fatty instead of healthy, so here are a few tips to keep it on the diet-friendly side.

  • Prepare ahead of time. Prepare for your homestyle salad bar by chopping tons of your favorite vegetables the day before so they’re on hand and easy to use.
  • Pay attention. Ballpark the amount of calories you’d like your salad to be and keep a general running count as you make it (especially for the fattier items).
  • Make it easy on yourself. Buy ready-to-use greens and other vegetables. In the Northeast, Olivia’s has ready-to-eat baby kale, which I use for salads, green smoothies, and sautés.
  • Be generous with greens. Load up on leafy greens and low-fat veggies.
  • Remember a little fat goes a long way. Be more mindful with your nuts, fattier vegetables (like avocado), cheeses, and creamy dressings.
  • Think of only low-cal veggies are “free” food. Also, be mindful with items that are healthy, but that add up more quickly calorie-wise (full fat tofu, many of the substitute meat products, anything fried, creamy salads, grains, beans).
  • Explore the rainbow. For visual allure, choose veggies from across the rainbow and arrange in a pleasing manner.
  • Experiment with tanginess. Try making your own tangy dressing with a squeeze of lemon or a bit of vinegar and only the merest drizzle of olive oil or mixing down full-fat dressing with the aforementioned. (Full fat dressing easily add 100+ calories, and the low-cal versions often have tons of sugar to make up for the lack of fat.

Here’s my lunch salad today:

  • Huge bowl filled with baby kale and spinach, about 5 cups (both ready-to-eat)
  • Red bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Cucumber (drizzled with balsamic)
  • Chick peas
  • A bit of leftover baked tofu from last night (lowfat tofu baked with tamari, thin film of olive oil, chopped garlic, nutritional yeast, oregano, pepper)
  • Tiny sprinkling of pine nuts
  • A squeeze of lemon
  • Cayenne pepper, black pepper

On the subject of my Whole Foods mention above, and in case you haven’t seen it, I close with the spot-on video “It’s Getting Real in the Whole Foods Parking Lot”

Happy Monday! (You can find out more about Meatless Monday here.)

What are your favorite salad secrets?

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