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!

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

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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!

Winter Running and Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothies

I haven’t talked much about running in the last few weeks but I’m still at it. I try to get out 2-3 times a week regardless of the snow, wind and extreme cold; although I do pay a lot of attention to the weather and try my best to run on warmer days when there won’t be ice on the ground. I’ve found the trick to surviving the cold has been to get a good running hat and layering up on top. Personally, too many layers on my legs is more annoying than helpful.

I can’t say my times have been particularly good but my main goal these days is just to get out there and not worry too much about the pace. Here are some of my latest stats. For some reason I can only get the time on my latest workout to show but I’ve put the pace below the other two.

This was the first run I’ve done without Eli in a long time. I thought I would be faster without him but it seems his excitement fuels us along.

IMG_3747

Run 2. Pace 8.28.

IMG_3748

Run 3. Pace 8.09.

IMG_3750

As you can see, I’m holding steady, not really improving my pace right now. But my hope is that all this winter running will make my summer running faster when the weather improves. We’ll see.

From my love of running to my love of smoothies.

Even with the cold weather I’ve been making a ton of smoothies. They make meeting my daily calcium quota so much easier and the flavors are endless.

The smoothie below has quickly become my new favorite. I’ve made it two days in a row and it was just as good today as it was yesterday.

It tastes a lot like a chocolate milkshake with much healthier ingredients. I’m sure you could add a handful of kale to it as well without affecting the flavor too much if you’re looking for some added nutrients.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 banana

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tbsp natural peanut butter

1 cup unsweetened or vanilla flavored almond milk

3-4 ice cubes, depending on how icy you want it (see note)

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smoothie ingredients

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until combined.

Note: I often have almond milk that is about to expire. When I have extra I freeze the milk in ice-cube trays then store in Ziplocs. I often use a couple of almond milk cubes in place of the ice cubes. If I use almond milk cubes, I cut back the fresh almond milk to half a cup.

Also,the glasses pictured below are teeny tiny, this recipe yields enough for one smoothie.

Chocolate Peanut Butter SmoothieChocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie DSC_0127

 

Dessert for breakfast.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Quinoa Cookie Remix

By far the most popular recipe on my blog is these Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies. It is the number one search term that drives people to my site and the most clicked on post of all time, by far.

Yesterday I was emailing with my friend Nicole and I mentioned that I wanted to try another version of the quinoa cookie. She’s in the process of writing a flourless baking cookbook so she is naturally interested in uninteresting topics like recipe development. Anyway, I like the original recipe, especially the dough before baking but I thought a mix of gluten-free oats, almond meal and quinoa might make for a tastier cookie.

Problem was, no quinoa! I know, how is that possible? What’s a blogger to do but strap on my Uggs, leash up the dog and walk down to Whole Foods. On our way, we took a little detour through the park where Eli ran around like crazy in the snow. This is when I realized I’d made my first, and likely not last, dumb California girl mistake. Uggs are not meant for snow! They are wonderful for cold, dry weather but once wet they absorb EVERYTHING. I literally felt like I was walking around in cold, wet sponges! So gross. It’s time to invest in a pair of waterproof boots.

Wet Uggs

And, yes I’m wearing leg warmers circa 1985 and yes that Whole Foods bag was about to rip into a pile of soggy paper. Love. Boston. Winter.

Once home and sufficiently dry I set about making the quinoa cookies when I realized I had no bananas! I was just at the store and didn’t think to pick them up, errr. Frustrated but not deterred I spotted some dates and thought I’d experiment. One experiment led to another and I now have four different flavors of quinoa cookies to share that are all banana free. Happy accident, but I know some people (like my sister) don’t like bananas. This cookie is for you.

Assorted Quinoa Cookies (vegan, gluten-free)

3/4 cup cooked quinoa (using this cooking method)

3/4 cup almond meal

1 cup gluten-free oats (1/2 cup processed into flour, 1/2 cup left whole)

2 tablespoon hulled hemp seed, optional

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal mixed with 2.5 tablespoons water

3/4 cup pitted dates (~12 dates)

3/4 cup almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon salt

For Ginger Lemon Quinoa Cookies: 

Add 1.5 tsp ginger powder and 2 tbsp lemon zest

For Spicy Chocolate Chip Quinoa Cookies:

Add 2 tbsp chocolate chips and 1 tsp cayenne pepper

For Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Quinoa Cookies:

Add 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cayenne pepper and 2 tbsp raisins

For Coconut Macadamia Nut Quinoa Cookies:

Add 1/4 cup shredded coconut and 2 tbsp crushed macadamia nuts

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Preheat oven to 350.

Process oats in a food processor until fine flour forms.

Add processed oats, quinoa, almond meal, hemp seed and remaining unprocessed oats to a bowl.

quinoa cookie dry ingredients

In food processor place dates and almond milk. Process until smooth. Add to dry ingredients.

dry ingredients and date paste

Next add flaxseed meal, vanilla, maple syrup, salt and additional mix-ins. Stir until well combined. Dough will be a bit sticky.quinoa cookie dough

Create balls and drop onto a sprayed cookie sheet. I used a little more than a tablespoon for each cookie.

oatmeal raisin and ginger lemon quinoa cookies oatmeal raisin quinoa cookies quinoa cookies

Bake for 20 minutes. The pictures above are all of the Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Quinoa Cookies but I particularly liked to Ginger Lemon flavor.

Warning: these can be very addicting.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Blueberry, Banana Grapefruit Breakfast Smoothie

There hasn’t been much cooking going on here this week besides Monday’s soup. As soon as Michael started to get over his cold, I got it!  I’ve been sniffling and sleeping my way through the week but think I’m finally turning the corner. After my first restful night’s sleep all week I woke up to sunshine and motivation to have more than just tea.

I wanted something filled with nutrients and flavor that could cut through a stuffy nose while also keeping the Calcium Challenge in mind. This smoothie packs a whopping 46% of your daily calcium needs: 30% coming from the almond milk, 6% from the chia seeds and 10% from the kale. Plus it tastes great. Although it definitely needed to be followed by a hot cup of tea to warm me back up!

The week is finally starting to look up…just in time for the weekend and the playoff games.

Blueberry, Banana, Grapefruit Breakfast Smoothie (vegan, gluten-free)

1 frozen banana, thawed

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

Juice of 1 grapefruit

1 cup kale

1 cup vanilla or regular almond milk

1 tablespoon chia seeds

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Thaw frozen banana in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Place banana, frozen blueberries, grapefruit juice, kale, milk and chia seeds in a blender or use your immersion stick. Blend for 1 minute until everything is well incorporated.

blueberry, banana, grapefruit smoothie blueberry, banana, grapefruit smoothie blueberry, banana, grapefruit smoothie

Serve in a pretty mason jar, optional, but makes it more fun to eat.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Banana Raisin Oatmeal Bars

Thank you for all the kind comments from yesterday’s Virtual Vegan Potluck. If you didn’t get a chance to see my recipe click here.

Now on to something sweet.

I love when first time recipes turn out. It makes the cooking process so much more enjoyable.

I’ve been craving oatmeal cookies for a couple of days now. I have all the ingredients but am never in the mood to bake at night when I really want one. This morning, in a baking mood, I started concepting (ah, an old advertising word, haha) how to justify a way to have oatmeal cookies for breakfast.

This recipe combines all the things I love about cookies without all the butter and flour and sugar. You can eat one of these bars every morning and not feel the least bit bad. Plus, they are really quick and easy to make, which seems to be my theme these days.

Banana Raisin Oatmeal Bars (vegan, gluten-free)

2 cups gluten-free oats

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 tablespoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup (agave would probably work well here too)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup unflavored almond milk (or whatever type of milk you prefer)

2 frozen bananas, thawed (you can also use very ripe bananas if you have some you need to use up)

1/4 cup raisins

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Preheat oven to 375.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.

Add all wet ingredients to dry. If using frozen bananas microwave for 30-45 seconds then mash into the mixture with a fork.

Add raisins last.

Grease a glass baking dish, I used cooking spray. Dump mixture into baking dish.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bars become firm.

Serve once cooled with a big glass of black tea or coffee.

Enjoy!