Recipes

Sweet Potato & Apple Pancakes

Fall has arrived once again in the Pacific Northwest. Due to our unusually hot and long summer (RIP), the fall colors are in full force. I almost feel like I’m back east. This means that, in addition to cooking up some delectable fall-inspired recipes, I don’t feel too embarrassed about getting my foo-foo lattes every once in a while (I’m usually a plain Americano type-person, for all of you who may want to bring me coffee in the future).

We have an abundance of pumpkins, squash, apples, and sweet potatoes at the local markets, and I was remembering my good friend and former roommate who used to cook some potato latkes to die for. And with that, I give you these pancakes.

 

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Make sure you don’t skimp on the (vegan) butter when you’re frying up these guys — you’ll need the savory notes to balance out the sweetness of the apple. If you don’t have a huge sweet tooth, I’d recommend going for a 2:1 ratio of potato to apple. I didn’t even put any syrup on these because they were flavorful enough on their own.

And don’t worry about peeling the potato or apple before you grate them. Keeping the skins on will preserve the rich fiber and you won’t even notice it once it’s all cooked.

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Combined with the flour, the pancakes formed patties well and stuck together without a problem. Easy for flipping!

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Best of all, a small potato and apple made three pancakes! Talk about an economical breakfast — invite your friends and make it into brunch! Did someone order a pumpkin spice latte?

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Zucchini Tian with Vegan Parmesan Cheese

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I recently acquired a humongous zucchini. This zucchini could not be controlled.

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(Side note: apparently huge zucchinis aren’t all that uncommon, at least according to my gardening friends. But this east coast girl still hasn’t got a handle on how most foods grow, so bear with me.)

I made it into tian, at the advice of my regular chef of a mom. Tian is French dish made by chopping various vegetables and cooking them au gratin in an oven. By using breadcrumbs, butter, cheese, or eggs (nearly all of which can be plant-based!), you can achieve a nicely browned effect when all is said and done.

Behold.

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This dish is fun because you can arrange the vegetables in any way you choose. I like the spiral look, so that’s what I did. It took a lot time because I’m not very creative. But here’s what it looked like before I popped it in the oven.

 

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Remember to be creative and make this dish your own — if you don’t love zucchini, how about summer squash or sweet potato?

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I didn’t make a recipe card for the vegan parmesan because it’s so easy: simply take about a cup of raw cashews and mix in with 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. Put this in a food proccesser/blender and give it a few pulses. It won’t take long at all to blend up. You can sprinkle this on nearly everything, because cheese.

 

And in case you were wondering…I still have about half of that zucchini left.

 

 

Watermelon Agua Fresca

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As a dietitian, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I sometimes have a hard time staying hydrated. In fact, some days I drink more coffee than water! I know I’m not the only one, and that’s why I’m excited about this ridiculously easy way to boost your hydration status during the hot summer months.

An agua fresca is a refreshing drink made by blending a fruit or any edible flower or seed with fresh water, sugar, and ice to make a thirst-quenching summer beverage. I didn’t think the watermelon needed any added sugar, so I simply blended one mini seedless watermelon with about 12 ice cubes, and served it immediately. I also added about a tablespoon of lime juice for some extra kick.  It’s so easy, I can barely call it a recipe.

You can do this with almost any fruit — melons and strawberries would  be easily blended. But I was excited to use watermelon: in addition to being 90% water and rich in potassium and vitamins A and C, it has some surprising benefits. It is rich in lycopene, which is a potent antioxidant. Watermelon is also a fantastic source of L-citrulline, an amino acid that aids in improving circulation and reducing muscle soreness. I drank some of this juice before working out yesterday, and I can (anecdotally) agree with that research today! I felt more energized during my work out, and today have minimal muscle soreness. L-citrulline supplements are sold over the counter, but research indicates that cells absorb it better from its natural source.

So there you have it — in addition to being a tasty way to hydrate and a fantastic source of nutrition, watermelon is of particular benefit to athletes. Give it a try!

Mighty Vegan Salad

Long time, no post! I hope you all didn’t miss me too much. I’ve been having a fantastic summer traveling the US and enjoying all the fun Portland activities. Seriously, I can’t keep up with all the events going on in town! We do make the most of our sunny summers here.

Tonight, I’ve got something that everyone can enjoy — a Mighty Vegan Salad! I’m not posting a “recipe” for it since this is more of an intuitive nightly ritual for me. I hope this gives you a little inspiration to make a mighty salad of your own!

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Tonight, I had:

Spinach (2 cups)

Chives, chopped (2 tbsp)

A handful of raw, whole almonds

A handful of cilantro

Some fresh mango chunks

1/3 cup cooked wheat berries

1/4 cup of lemon hummus (store-bought)

1 small avocado

About 8 cherry tomatoes

Marinated and sautéed tempeh strips (olive oil, soy sauce, pepper, coriander, chipotle)

…all drizzled with a dash of balsamic and some grape seed oil.

 

 

You can see the ingredients a little better here:

 

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I was curious myself, so I calculated the nutrition information for this salad (just the protein, fiber, and vitamin/mineral content, as I’m not concerned about calories or natural fats).

You might be surprised what this lil ol’ vegan salad brings to the table!

 

  • 28 grams of plant-based protein!
  • 1237 mg of potassium! (if you are trying to decrease high blood pressure, try for more potassium and LESS sodium)
  • 8 grams of fiber!
  • 38% daily value for iron! (with plenty of vitamin C — 83% daily value — to help it to be absorbed)
  • 23 % daily value for calcium!
  • 54% daily value for magnesium!

And who says vegans are undernourished?

That’s it for tonight, folks. Hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Make a mighty salad for me!

 

 

Sautéed Avocado & Nectarine Salsa

Sweet, savory, which to choose? With this salsa, you don’t have to. It’s got the tangy sweetness of the nectarines, coupled with a healthy dose of garlic and the incomparable mouth feel of the avocado. Throw it all together with a little salt and pepper and sauté in vegan butter, and you’ve got yourself a sweet and savory flavor bomb that goes well on a variety of dishes. I roasted a sweet potato for this salsa’s accompaniment, but it would go well on a rice pilaf or over tofu.

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If you need some spice in your life, how about adding some cayenne pepper to the mix?

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I love this salsa because sautéeing it allows for crunchy texture to form on the nectarines and avocado. Don’t be afraid to turn the heat up under the saucepan to allow that texture to form. (But don’t, you know, burn the butter.)

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Serve immediately! 🙂

 

“Summer is Coming” Salad Medley

Don’t be discouraged by Game of Thrones. Summer is coming, folks. And I have a feeling it’s going to be a good one.

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What’s better for a summer lunch than a hearty and protein-packed salad full of fruits, veggies, and the most underestimated nutritional powerhouse combo, rice and beans? The citrus in this dish keeps it light and fresh, and the rainbow of colors means you’re reaping the benefits of vitamins and minerals across the board. Baking the asparagus and beets beforehand means you’ll get a nice crunch in there, too.

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This is great dish to prepare ahead of time if you like to pack your lunch, or if you plan to delight your friends at a potluck. It’s also completely flexible. Don’t like kidney beans? That’s fine, you’re dead to me. I mean, *cough* throw in chickpeas or fava beans! And for the citrus addicts here, you can add some pineapple or strawberry to boost that flavor profile. Mmm, vitamin C!

Fair warning, though: your hands will look like Carrie when you’re done with the beets.

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Rice and beans are one of nature’s best combination foods, and serve as a complete protein source — that is, the two of them together provide all the essential amino acids your body needs to survive. And because it’s rice and beans, your stomach won’t be growling for afternoon munchies.

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Garnish with your choice: cilantro was a no-brainer for me. And summer…come quickly!

Cashew Cream: Never miss a parfait again

I enjoyed a truly delectable vegan parfait the other morning, and I went home to replicate it right afterwards so I could  share it here! The life of a dietitian, folks. Now, there’s an ever-growing number of vegan yogurts on the market, including Nancy’s, So Delicious, Almond Dream, and the Trader Joe’s brand (ps, check out their list of vegan foods from the link!). I’ve tried a few, liked a few, and found some that have left a pretty icky taste in my mouth. So if you’re looking for a simple creamy yogurt substitute that you can make in minutes to go with granola or fruit (or both!) look no further than a simple cashew cream.

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Nuts are finally getting their due recognition for protecting heart health, brain health, and staving off weight gain and even cancer. Yes, nuts are largely composed of fats, but the kind of fats found in nuts like walnuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, etc. are not something I would ever counsel someone to avoid. Nuts are high in fiber, which promotes gut health and lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. Choose nuts that are unsalted, though, to avoid excess sodium consumption.

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Nuts are a super filling snack, which makes a cashew cream parfait likely to stick with you up until lunch (or even past it). When I get hungry at work, I always reach for almonds or mixed nuts, because I know just a handful will do the trick.

You can use a couple dollops of this delicious treat, or mix it with a non-dairy milk for a thinner consistency to make it more of a “yogurt.” I made a simple parfait consisting of low-fat/low-sugar granola found at Whole Paycheck (the berry kind in the bulk section), cashew cream, frozen pineapple and raspberries, cinnamon, and some chia seeds, and then poured unsweetened soy milk over it all. What a light and refreshing way to start the day.

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What’s your favorite parfait combination?

Mini Breakfast Tofu Frittatas

“Frittata” is a very strange word to both spell and say, as I’ve learned from writing this post. Nevertheless, I give you the breakfast tofu frittata (bonus: they’re mini).

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A traditional frittata is an egg-based dish of Italian heritage, similar to a crust-less quiche. But you can enjoy this savory meal sans egg, and start your day off with a hearty dose of protein to boot. What can I say? Some of us are just savory breakfast people.

tofufrittatarecipecardYou can eat these bad boys on their own or make a breakfast sandwich. These frittatas go just right with some salsa and spinach on top an English muffin. And remember, make it yours! If you don’t like broccoli, how about some red pepper, or zucchini?

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You may have noticed that I like to cook with tofu quite a bit. Aside from being a neutral-tasting and versatile meat substitute that goes well in breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert dishes, tofu serves as a functional food in many ways.

The isoflavones found in soy products are well-known antioxidants that absorb free radicals within our bodies to prevent premature cell aging and cell death. Soy isoflavones improve blood vessel linings, and may contribute to bone health. In general, replacing meat with soy products reduces overall fat and cholesterol intake, therefore improving heart health. Some soy products are fortified with calcium and vitamin D, as well.

Unfortunately, many people believe that eating soy products increases the risk of breast cancer. While it is true that isoflavones can act like estrogens, which influence our hormone production over time and may contribute to cancer risk, soy isoflavones can also hinder the effect of actual estrogens on our tissue, thus decreasing this risk (whew, that was a mouthful!). There’s been quite a lot of research on this subject since it’s so controversial. But just recently, The American Cancer Society’s Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Survivors , released in 2012, notes that soy consumption offers “no harmful effects to breast cancer survivors.” 

If you’d like more information, peruse this comprehensive analysis of research pertaining to soy foods. Additionally, Ginny Messina (TheVeganRD) notes that soybean isoflavones “are different from estrogen” and  may reduce breast cancer risk if consumed early in life, and may reduce recurrence of breast cancer

Soy offers a host of health benefits that outweigh its reputation. Overall, “The vast majority of the evidence is that soy is either neutral or protective against breast cancer, including for women previously diagnosed with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer (tumors stimulated by estrogen contact).” So go ahead and enjoy the benefits of soy foods!

You choose: for the road, or here at home. I myself chose one for a late night snack. 😀

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Vegan Brownie in a Mug. You’re welcome.

It’s late at night. You’re watching Lord of the Rings. Things are getting emotional. You need chocolate.

Enter…the mug brownie.

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Now, I know this recipe is nothing new. But I had no idea what I was missing until, by some stroke of genius the other night, I remembered that I had all the ingredients necessary to make myself a brownie in a mug in under five minutes. That’s right — there’s no waiting around for the oven to preheat with this recipe. You don’t even need measuring cups! With some basic ingredients and a microwave, you can get back to your movie in no time.

Short and sweet, just like this post.

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So go ahead and treat yourself tonight. And stay tuned for my next post; a spotlight on Portland’s own Nike Run Club!  I’m really excited to get the word out about this fantastic group.

Melt in Your Mouth Broccoli & Cheese Soup

“I just couldn’t live without cheese.”

This sentence needs to be obliterated from existence, because this recipe for broccoli and cheese soup (and tons of other vegan “cheezy” goodies out there) will make you a believer. I am nomming on it right now and it is fulfilling every dream I’ve ever had.

Side note: In one of my first posts, I wrote about the effect of opioid-like substances in dairy that cause withdrawals and cravings. I find that I simply do not have cravings for cheese. But I enjoy vegan versions very much and like to incorporate them into my meals sometimes 🙂

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There’s nothing better than a savory soup on a frosty night. Toss some toasted baguette in there and you’ve got yourself an evening fit for a queen.

So what’s the secret to vegan cheese? It’s all about the nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast — or “nooch,” as it’s affectionately termed — can be found at most grocery stores, is inexpensive (get it in bulk), and is a viable source of B12 for plant-based humans. Its cheesy flavor and cooking adaptability make it a surefire way to add umami flavor to your meals. It’s also full of folic acid, selenium, zinc, and other members of the B vitamin family. Nutritional yeast is also a complete protein, and contains a whopping 6 grams of protein in just a 1/4 cup, in addition to 3 grams of fiber, and NO sodium or saturated fat (Bob’s Red Mill).

Make sure the brand you get DOES have B12 added (some don’t) and does not contain whey.

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How cute is this nooch scooped into my hedgehog 1/4 cup?! My dear friend got me a hedgehog measuring cup set for my birthday that I couldn’t wait to photograph for this blog 🙂

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This is what the cheese sauce looks like. You can add more flour if that sauce is all “get me bodied.” I’m obsessed with Beyoncé.

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Best eaten with friends 🙂