Lentils and Rice

This box of spanish rice has been my nemesis forever. I bought it at least a year ago when we were still living in Noe Valley. I have no idea why I bought it. Maybe for burritos or taco salads? Whatever it was for, it wasn’t used. We gave away almost all our food before the move and yet, it somehow found its way into the moving boxes, all the way across the country and back into our new kitchen just to stare me down for another 6 months. Resilient little bugger.

spanish rice

Yesterday it finally met it’s fate!

lentils and rice

Work is crazy for Michael right now as he prepares for a big meeting at the end of the month. Knowing he would be working late again last night I thought I’d make him something that would only get better with a little time in the fridge. Plus, he’d asked for a veggie stew this weekend and I didn’t make it for him so I used this to make it up to him.

I love the combo of rice and lentils and it was also the easiest recipe I’ve made in a long time. Saute veggies with spices, add lentils and rice, add liquid, done. I actually made and photographed a smoothie for a WalkJogRun article while this was cooking.

Feel free to add whatever rice you have on hand you absolutely do not need this specific box of rice but if you’re like me and have one hanging around, it might be a great time to finally use it.

Lentils and Rice (vegan, gluten-free)

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

1 broccoli stalk, diced

1/2 jalapeño with seeds, diced

2 tbsp minced garlic

1 tsp salt

1/2 tbsp turmeric

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp chili powder

1 box spanish rice and half flavor packet

1 can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cup green lentils

2 cups veggie broth

3 cups water

————

Heat olive oil over high heat and saute vegetables until soft. Add garlic, salt, turmeric, cumin and chili powder, saute another minute.

veggies and spices

sauteed veggies

Add rice, flavor packet, diced tomatoes, lentils, veggie broth and water to the vegetable mixture.

rice and lentils

Cook over medium high heat for 20-25 minutes or until all liquid has evaporated.

lentils and rice

I ate my plain. Michael told me this morning that he made sandwiches out of his and topped the mixture with cheese. He also brought it to my attention that I made A LOT of it, which is very true. If you’d like to make a smaller portion, cut the lentils and rice in half. You’ll also want to reduce the water to 1 cup.

lentils and rice

lentils and rice

Enjoy and Exhale!

Asparagus with Maple Tahini Dressing

Weekend post! So rare for me but I wanted to share.

Last week I created a veggie side dish featuring asparagus for WalkJogRun. I roasted the asparagus because it is still winter after all, then paired it with a lightly sweet, incredibly lovely maple tahini dressing that had me licking the bowl clean.

If you’re interested, you can find the recipe here or click on the first photo I’ve ever taken that I’m actually proud of! Progress is progress, no matter how small.

Vegetable Spotlight: Asparagus

Hope you’re having a relaxing St. Patty’s Day.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Two for the Price of One

I didn’t mean for a whole week to disappear without a recipe. This post was actually written yesterday but just as I was going to upload the pictures our wireless router crapped out.  After chatting with Comcast and buying a new router we weren’t back online until late last night. Oh well, today you get two recipes for the price of one!

Just kidding, everything’s free here. But you still get two recipes.

While out on a walk yesterday morning I stopped in at Starbucks. The line was really long so I turned back around after only a few seconds of waiting. However, as I was leaving the barista yelled “blueberry muffin” to someone and that got my empty stomach growling. I walked the rest of the way home mentally checking off the ingredients for my blueberry muffins, check, check, check, eh, wait, no gf flour or blueberries. Sort of key ingredients.

Plan B, improvise. I swapped the blueberries for strawberries which was easy enough as I have a huge bag of frozen ones in my freezer. But, finding a gf flour sub seemed unlikely, until I remembered a bag of Bob’s Red Mill GF Pancake mix that’s been hanging around for a while. Perfect! I think?

Turns out, yes, perfect, better than actually. I prefer these muffins to the original version although I would probably swap the blueberries back in or add them in addition to the strawberries. I also just noticed that I forgot the flaxseed to this version. To be honest, it doesn’t seem to have mattered in the least so we’ll keep it out.

strawberry gluten free muffins

Apologies for the lack of pictures. I was rather absent-minded about it until the batter was already mixed.

Strawberry Muffins (vegan, gluten-free)

1/2 cup gf oat flour

1/4 cup gf oats, whole

1/4 cup almond meal

1 cup gluten-free pancake mix (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup strawberries, cut into bite size pieces

————

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oat flour, oats, almond meal, gluten-free pancake mix, baking powder and salt.

Next add brown sugar, melted coconut oil, mashed bananas, vanilla, milk and apple cider vinegar to the dry ingredients.

Stir until well incorporated.

gluten free strawberry muffin batter

Lastly, fold in chopped strawberries.

Grease a muffin tin. Fill each cupcake hole about 3/4 of the way up.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

strawberry muffins

Yields 8 muffins.

vegan strawberry muffins vegan strawberry muffins

Okay, that’s one but I promised you two. This recipe is for all you runners. With spring springing and longer runs on the horizon I put together an all-natural, preservative and dye-free energy gel over at WalkJogRun. I used chia seeds as the base and offer a couple of suggestions for mix-ins. Check it out if you’re looking for an alternative to those neon colored gums and goos.

chia seed energy gel

Alright, that’s it for me today. More articles to write, a house to clean and a gym to get to.

Have a wonderful weekend.

As always, Enjoy and Exhale!

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream with Vegan Hot Chocolate

This morning Michael and I were talking about what I should write about today. He was rather unhelpful, although very cute, with his only suggestion being that it wasn’t a Things I’m Loving kind of day. I agreed mostly because I currently have just three things on my newest list. One of which is this book that I really want to talk about. Have you read it? It’s crazy messed up.

Gone Girl

Without being any closer to deciding what to post today, Michael heads off the work and I watch him clean off the car…

cleaning off the car

…for a really long time. Then I start to feel cold just watching him and decide it’s time for some hot chocolate.

Now, in a normal world the recipe title would be the other way around. This would be a post about hot chocolate and the whipped cream would be the icing on the cake, haha. But the hot chocolate part is neither here nor there, to be honest I’m still perfecting the recipe. It’s really the whipped cream that steals this show. But I can’t do write a post all about whipped cream, can I?

Maybe I can, but you’ll get the hot chocolate recipe as a bonus. If you’re a lover of whipped cream, make this! It’s like a natural, tastier, more delicious version of cool whip. Put it on cake, on ice cream, eat it straight from the bowl she says, while taking a big spoonful between typing these words. Whatever which way, it’s worth trying soon.

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream with Vegan Hot Chocolate (vegan, gluten-free)

For the whipped cream:

1 can full fat coconut milk, make sure it’s full fat, no light stuff here

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

splash of vanilla extract

For the hot chocolate:

1 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup, depending on your preferred sweetness level

splash of vanilla extract

pinch of salt

———–

First things first, place a can of full fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight upside. Don’t skip this step.

The next morning open the can (right side up). Drain liquid into a separate container for another time. You’ll be left with the coconut milk solids.

coconut milk solids

Spoon the solid coconut milk into a mixing bowl.

coconut milk solids

Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until it resembles whipped cream, about 1 minute.

coconut whipped cream coconut whipped cream

Once whipped cream is done, warm milk, cocoa, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan. Whisk, bring to a low boil and remove from heat.

vegan chocolate milk

Pour into a mug and top with whipped cream.

vegan hot chocolate coconut milk whipped cream and vegan hot chocolate

Enjoy while staring out at the snow or your boyfriend cleaning off the car.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Quinoa

Looks like winter is planning to stick around a bit longer. Everyone keeps saying March is the worst month in New England. It sounds like it should be a spring month and we’re all so ready, but Mother Nature keeps us waiting.

Oh well, at least there are cute pictures of puppy paw prints in the snow…

paw prints in the snow

and lattes…

coffee

and peanut butter and jelly quinoa…

peanut butter and jelly quinoa

but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Yesterday’s attempt at a quinoa casserole turned out to be a semi-flop. The flavors were good but overall it was way too dry. I ended up eating it with salsa on top but it still didn’t do it for me. I have some ideas on how to fix it and will keep tweaking until it’s sharable.

quinoa casserole

I also made a basil, pear, pineapple smoothie yesterday. I’d never made a smoothie with basil but I had some wilting in the fridge (like always) and thought I’d try. I don’t know what to make of it. At first sip it was not good, then I had another, the pear was making it gritty, still not good. Then I had another sip and another until the whole thing was gone. Hmm, couldn’t have been that bad. 🙂 It definitely wasn’t ready to share, but with the right fruit pairing I’m sure it can be a refreshing drink.

Okay, where was I? Ah, peanut butter and jelly quinoa, yes.

I love pb&j’s. I ate them almost everyday when I was growing up, except on the days I’d switch it up to have a delectable ketchup sandwich. Yup, I just said ketchup sandwich! I bet my mom is wondering why she ever let us make our own lunches.

This quinoa has the same flavorings as a traditional pb&j but is made with healthy quinoa instead of white or wheat bread, plus, no crusts to cut off! Also, if your quinoa is already cooked it takes less than 3 minutes to put together. Perfect for a quick breakfast or kid’s lunch.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Quinoa (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

pinch of salt

1/2 cup milk of choice, I’ve been loving rice milk instead of almond lately

1 tablespoon of your favorite jam

————

Cook quinoa according to these directions.

While quinoa is cooking mix peanut butter, milk and salt together. If the mixture is to thick add a little bit more milk.

peanut butter and milk

Place quinoa in a bowl.

quinoa

Top with peanut butter mixture.

peanut butter and jelly quinoa

Then some jelly.

peanut butter and jelly quinoa

Mix. Eat. Gobble the whole thing up like a kid.

peanut butter and jelly quinoa

Enjoy and Exhale!

Kale, Potato and White Bean Soup

Last night I had a dream that I looked out the window to see the trees blooming with a million pink buds. Then I woke up and all the branches were still bare and surrounded by piles of gray snow.

I’m pretty sure I’m making it up but I feel an almost imperceivable shift toward spring. It’s coming, oh please oh please let it be coming.

I was telling my sister yesterday that I’m feeling uninspired in the kitchen lately. This is likely because I’m sick of winter vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet potatoes and carrots and parsnips but what I’d really like to eat are some lovely green asparagus stalks that don’t cost $5.99 a bunch! Or some sweet, red tomatoes that haven’t been imported from Brazil.

Guess we’ll have to make do with what we have right now. And what we have are white beans and kale! The pairing of white beans and kale seems almost as natural as peanut butter and jelly.

Actually it doesn’t at all but it does sound good together. So we’ll make another soup with hopes that it’s one of the last of the season and that soon we’ll be turning our attention to fresh salads and fruit.

Until then…

kale and white bean soup

Kale, Potato and White Bean End of Winter Soup (vegan, gluten-free)

2 tbsp garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil)

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, sliced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 tbsp minced garlic

1/2 cup of loosely packed basil, cut into ribbons (optional)

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2-1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1 bay leaf

8 cups of water and two no salt bouillon cubes (or 8 cups of no salt veggie stock)

6 red potatoes, diced

2 cans of white beans with juices (I used a combo of great northern and white kidney beans)

3 cups chopped kale (I used curly but lacinato would work well here too)

————

White Bean and Kale Soup Ingredients

Slice onion, carrot, celery and potatoes.

vegetable assembly line

Heat olive oil and saute onion, carrot and celery until lightly soft. Add garlic and basil. Saute for another minute.

sauteed veggies

Add thyme, salt, cayenne pepper and bay leaf. Mix with veggies.

Next add water and bouillon cubes. I always use no salt bouillon cubes but it’s especially important here because I’m not draining the beans and the juice of the beans adds extra salt.

Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.

Add beans and potatoes cook for 25 minutes.

Lastly, add kale. Cook until wilted.

Adjust salt to taste and remove bay leaf before serving.

I turned the burner off and left the soup covered on the stove while I taught my noon class and went to the gym. When I ate it a couple of hours later it reminded me very much of the soups my dad used to make, which made it taste that much better.

kale and white bean soup kale and white bean soup

If we have to eat more soup, might as well be good soup right?

Enjoy and Exhale!

Cilantro Stem Dressing…say what?

Sometimes my own nerdiness takes me by surprise. I’ve never claimed to be cool but I never thought myself to be someone who would dance around the kitchen after tasting a salad dressing. Eli cocked his head to one side perplexed as he watched the scene take place.

I just couldn’t help it. After years of project managing creatives and allowing myself to believe that I personally was not “creative” it still amazes me that I can concept and actualize ideas of my own. It’s a lovely feeling that the swirling and pondering of a thought can become a tangible recipe I get to share with others. Another benefit the world of blogging has allowed me.

Anyway, on to the recipe.

Being in New York last weekend and not having a chance to get to the grocery store this week we’ve been eating what we have. We, of course, have more than enough food to pick from but our veggie supply is getting low. Our vegetable drawer currently consists of brussels sprouts, a 5lb bag of carrots, spinach and the ends of a bunch of cilantro.Cilantro

I eat a lot of cilantro, usually a bunch a week. I will greedily eat up all the leaves, pushing the stems to the back of the crisper to wither and die until I buy the next bunch.

A few days ago I had what is now annoying referred to as an Aha moment. I ran across this Veggie Belly post that used the cilantro stems in a soup and it suddenly hit me that I was wasting a flavorful part of the cilantro.

I quickly dug out those stems and got to work on a what I hoped would be a delicious salad dressing. It was honestly better than I could have imagined and avoids wasted food and money. Win win.

Cilantro Stem Salad Dressing (vegan, gluten-free)

1 bunch of cilantro stems, chopped finely

2 tbsp hulled hemp seeds

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

————

Wash cilantro stems thoroughly, the stems tend to hold a lot of dirt, don’t skip this step.

Chop stems finely and place in a food processor with remaining ingredients.

Blend until well combined. I ran my processor for over a minute.

Adjust seasonings to taste.

cilantro salad dressing

Makes 1-2 serving depending on salad size.

I massaged the dressing into 3 cups of spinach and topped with slivered almonds. I think it would be wonderful with avocado and baby tomatoes as well.

spinach salad with cilantro dressingspinach salad with cilantro dressingspinach salad with cilantro dressing

Happy Friday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Triple Ginger Smoothie

It’s been a while since I shared a recipe. Sorry about that. This one was worth the wait!

ginger smoothie

A few weeks ago my aunt and uncle requested a smoothie recipe made with the candied ginger I used in these.

My first thought was a cherry ginger combo but I only had dried cherries and that didn’t sound particularly appealing. I may revisit this when fresh cherries are in season or if I think to pick some frozen ones up.

Then I played around with the idea of a chocolate ginger smoothie but I just made this Chocolate Peanut Butter version and they seemed to similar.

Finally I spotted a bag of dates and figured, why not? I’ve never used dates in a smoothie before but I’d seen it done on other blogs. All I can say is, wow! You’ll be seeing a whole lot more dates around here. They added the perfect amount of sweetness and a creamy texture that blew me away.

I couldn’t take the pictures fast enough and quickly gobbled up the entire thing before the photos had even finished downloading to my computer.

I’m not one to toot my own horn but if you like ginger…Make. This. Smoothie. The fresh, powdered and candied ginger all add a different kind of kick. It was so delicious and refreshing. I’m seriously contemplating making a second one.

Triple Ginger Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 frozen banana

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 dates, pitted

1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely minced

2 tablespoons candied ginger, finely minced

4 ice cubes

————

Cut the skin from the fresh ginger. Chop fresh and candied ginger into small pieces.

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.

Top with more candied and powdered ginger if desired.

ginger smoothie ingredientsminced ginger DSC_0184triple ginger smoothie

Enjoy and Exhale!

Tofu Vegetable Stir Fry

First let me say that I wish these photos had turned out better. This was such a tasty meal but I was hasty with the photography. What can I say, it was late, there was good TV on and I was hungry!

These photos really don’t do this meal justice. It was so good that it was actually meant to be yesterday’s post but the blueberry muffins stole the show (or post). It will have to settle for second in the posting schedule but not in flavor.

vegetable tofu stir fry

To be honest, l’m actually not a huge fan of stir fries but they are one of Michael’s favorites and I owe it to him to make it from time to time. This recipe was so simple and tasty that it may just have changed my opinion on the lowly stir fry.

I love how incredibly versatile this recipe is, consider this the jumping off point. How you mix and match is totally up to you. I already have a dozen new sauce and veggie combos in my head, one of which will likely become dinner tonight. Lucky Michael!

Tofu Vegetable Stir Fry (vegan, gluten-free)

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 onion, sliced

1 bell pepper, sliced

1 carrot

2 tbsp garlic, minced

pinch of salt

1 package of firm tofu, pressed and sliced into cubes

1 tbsp tamari

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp brown sugar, vegans can omit

dash of cayenne pepper

1/2 tbsp paprika

Toppings:

1 tsp sriracha

2 tbsp slivered almonds

1 tbsp cilantro

———–

Slice onion, pepper and carrot.

onions and peppers

Heat oil in a large wok. Make sure the wok is really hot. Peanut oil is best for stir frying because it has a high smoke point, meaning it can be heated very high before it starts to break down and taste bitter. The hotter the oil and the pan, the better tasting the stir fry.

Once oil is hot, throw in the sliced veggies. Stir fry for about 5 minutes or until veggies start to get soft but still have some crunch to them. Add garlic, cook for another minute.

healthy stir fry

Next add the tofu. I put my tofu in and then immediately added my liquids but next time I’ll give the tofu a few minutes to brown.

Add tamari, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and paprika. I used regular paprika but I think smoked paprika would add an excellent flavor to this.

Stir fry for a few more minutes until veggies and tofu are coated.

tofu stir fry

Serve with sriracha, slivered almonds and cilantro on top.

Michael would have preferred this over brown rice. I’m not the biggest rice fan so I liked it as it was but could also imagine it being tasty over rice noodles.

The perfect, fast, easy weeknight meal.

tofu vegetable stir fry tofu vegetable stir fry

Enjoy and Exhale!

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins

I was going through old bookmarked recipes yesterday morning and stumbled on one for blueberry muffins that used all-purpose flour. I’m actually not even sure why it was bookmarked considering I rarely bake non gluten-free baked goods but it must have been meant for inspiration because it got me craving blueberry muffins and I knew I had to give a gluten-free version a shot.

However, after my series of unsuccessful gluten-free baking endeavors over the last few months I had really low expectations for these muffins. Hence why there aren’t a lot of step-by-step pictures; I was feeling doubtful about the outcome and half heartedly took a few photos as I went, just in case.

So glad I did!

vegan gluten-free muffins

These muffins were so tasty. They are not overly sweet, which I really liked. I ended up eating three of them for breakfast and didn’t have that heavy feeling afterward that you often get when you eat butter laden pastries. Of course, you can always add more sugar to the batter if you prefer a sweeter muffin or use sweetened almond milk but I thought they were perfect just the way they came out. I did add a little earth balance to the last muffin I ate just to see how it would taste. Turns out, the earth balance makes it even better. I’m sure that’s a shock. Ha.

For strict vegans you can sub maple syrup for the brown sugar. I haven’t personally tried it but I’m guessing it will turn out well.

Blueberry Muffins (gluten-free, vegan)

2 tbsp flaxseed meal, mixed with 4 tbsp water

3/4 cup gf oat flour

1/4 cup almond meal

1 cup gluten-free AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup brown sugar (or maple syrup)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 bananas, mashed

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup non-dairy milk, I used unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 cup blueberries, I used frozen

————

Preheat the oven to 375.

In a small bowl add water to flaxseed meal. Let sit for a few minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oat flour, almond meal, gluten-free AP flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Once the flaxseed has formed a gel, add brown sugar, melted coconut oil, mashed bananas, vanilla, milk and apple cider vinegar to it. Stir until well incorporated.

dry and wet ingredients

Combine wet and dry ingredients. Mix in blueberries.

muffin batter

Once well mixed, grease a cupcake tin with cooking spray. Fill each cupcake hole about 3/4 of the way up.

blueberry muffins

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out cleanly.

Yields 12 muffins.

gluten free vegan blueberry muffins DSC_0053

Eat with a piping hot cup of coffee or tea for the perfect breakfast.

Enjoy and Exhale!