Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Springtime Medley Risotto

I realize the irony of posting "Springtime Medley Risotto" smack in the middle of winter when it's 7 degrees outside, but sometimes you just need to see the light at the end of the tunnel and in this instance I'm experiencing that through fresh asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon zest. I figure if I can't step outside and experience spring, I can whip up a batch of it in my kitchen.

When many people think of risotto they picture themselves tied to their stove for hours on end stirring and stirring and stirring... But, have no fear! It's not as difficult as they make you think it is. Sure, you need to stir when you add liquid, but it really isn't as time consuming as you may think.

When you order risotto in restaurants it usually comes smothered in Parmesan, which I never quite understood. The natural creaminess of the rice makes this dish stand on it's own, without the use of gratuitous cheese. The lemon zest adds tang and the sun-dried tomatoes an earthy taste and texture that will bring you back for more.

So, get out of your winter funk, crank your furnace up to 75, throw on your flip-flops, and experience a taste of spring!

Springtime Medley Risotto
Recipe from Jesse Miner for VegNews Magazine

6 cups vegetable stock
1 bunch asparagus, ends removed and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons extra virgin oil
3 spring onions, greens removed and diced
5 green-garlic stacks, dark green removed, and thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, and then diced
1 meyer lemon, zested, plus 1 tablespoon juice
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to boil. Add asparagus and blanch for 2 to 3 minutes, until tender and bright green. Removewith strainer, run under cold water to halt cooking, drain, and set aside. Reserve stock in pan and reduce heat to simmer.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add onions, garlic, and salt and sauté for about 5 minutes,or until onions are translucent. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to lightly toast grains. Add white wine and stir every 1 to 2 minutes until wine is completely absorbed.

Pour 1/2 cup of hot stock over rice. Stir rice every 1 to 2 minutes until stock is completely absorbed. Repeat until rice is “al dente”with a thickened sauce. This should take approximately 30 to 35 minutes.

Turn off heat and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, cooked asparagus pieces, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and juice,and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Healing Thoughts

This morning while I was climbing up a hill during my 60 minute spin class I had a revelation...And I use that word loosely, "revelation" that is. There were no angels that descended from the heavens, no bright light, and certainly no dramatic interludes that one associates with them. Okay, maybe it was more of a "lightbulb" moment.

My spin instructor asked us if we knew what our purpose in life was. Actually, she more or less demanded that we think about it for four days and then during Saturday's class she wants us to write it down while she reads them aloud.

My purpose in life? In four days? You'd think that was asking a lot, I mean in the grad scheme of things, but really, it isn't. I think we all know deep inside why we're here. What makes us tick, the things that inspire, persuade and motivate us to get out of bed each and every day.

The thing about this instructor is she always manages to say the right things to get you to think...I mean really think. She constantly reminds us that we are in charge, we have the ability to make the necessary changes in life that will inevitably point us in the right direction. She's right.

She tells us that we are in exactly the right place in our lives and that when we acknowledge it, a door will open, and opportunities will arise. She's right.

In her class we're instructed to leave all negativity at the door and surround ourselves with positive affirmations. This is something I practice daily. I didn't get where I am today with my RA by being negative. I didn't give up on myself...Never give up on yourself.

Surround yourself with positive people, those that inspire, and those whom you can inspire.

Inspire others.

That was it, "inspire others." That was my "a ha moment." I realized that sharing my experience with others not only gives inspiration, it is also a form of personal therapy. It motivates me, it inspires me, and it makes me realize my potential and how much I have to give...It heals me.

Healing others helps you heal yourself.

It doesn't have to be complicated. It can be something as simple as a smile, or a "Thank You" or holding the door for someone.

Move forward in life and be the light you need to see, be your own inspiration and the rest will fall into place.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Black Rice, Roasted Carrots, and Dried Cherries

With Thanksgiving quickly knocking at our door, it's important to maintain balance in our lives. We need to remember that "The Holiday's" are not an excuse to treat our bodies any different than we would on any given day throughout the year. With that being said, there are plenty of delicious recipes available to showcase a vegan diet, without giving up the seasonal flavors.

I wanted to post a recipe that I made last year, and plan on making again this year to bring to my parent's house. Stuffed acorn squash, a staple on an autumn dinner table, filled with hearty black rice, earthy carrots, sweet dried cherries, ginger, maple syrup and cinnamon will bring warmth and comfort to your holiday meal.

A nice accompaniment would be the "Autumn Mushroom Stew with Rosemary Mashed Potatoes" along with some Corn Bread Muffins and Miso -Glazed Green Beans and Mushrooms (which I also made last year) And for a vegan pumpkin pie recipe that is absolutely delish, go here.

Yummy food aside, and more importantly, take the time to count your blessings and spend it with the people you love. It's easy to get lost in what the season has become, but remember that these times are not about acquiring "things" but more about helping others, and being grateful for what you already have. There's a lot to say about living simply, because the greatest things in life are in fact, free.

Stuffed Acorn Squash with Black Rice, Roasted Carrots, and Dried Cherries.
Serves 8
These can be made one day ahead; cover (so the rice doesn't dry out) and reheat in a 350 degree oven.

Prep tip: If you'd like additional protein, add 8 oz extra-firm tofu, drained, dried, and cubed, on top of the carrot mixture before roasting (don't stir as it will stick to the pan)

4 acorn squashes
8 tsp canola oil, divided
1 tsp sea salt, divided
2 tsp ground coriander, divided
1/2 scant tsp ground nutmeg, divided
1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
10 large sage leaves, chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp canola oil
3/4 cup finely diced onion
1 cup Chinese black rice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cut squashes in half, lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Brush interiors with 4 tsp oil, then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, black pepper to taste, 1/2 tsp coriander, and scant 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Arrange halves on a baking sheet, cut-side down. Roast 40-50 minutes on the upper middle rack, until tender when pierced.
2. Combine remaining 4 tsps oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 1/2 tsps coriander, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg with carrots, pecans and ginger in an 8-inch baking dish; toss to combine. Roast at 375 for 30-40 minutes on the bottom middle rack, stirring every 10 minutes. When carrots are tender, stir in chopped sage, dried cherries, and maple syrup. Roast for an additional 10 minutes, then remove from oven.
3. While veggies are roasting, place a medium saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add 1 Tbsp canola oil. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, until onion begins to soften. Stir in rice and cinnamon, then add broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil. reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
4. Combine rice with carrot mixture. Arrange squash halves, cut side up, on a serving platter; fill with rice mixture, pressing gently to secure.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons

Yeah, I know..."Again with the Soup?"

This time of year, I just can't help myself. There's nothing better than curling up with a nice bowl of soup on a cold autumn evening. Especially one that has comforting ingredients like wild rice, sweet potatoes, coconut milk all mixed in with a nice smooth sweet curry flavor. Yum.

This recipe came from Heidi Swanson's "Super Natural Cooking." If you click on the link, you'll notice that it will take you to "Google Books" where you can view the entire book online. Huh! Who woulda' thought?

I love this book because the photography is beautiful, the recipes are simple, and it is chalk full of information on superfoods and recipes for vegan substitutions like "Egg Free Mayonaise" and "Cashew Cream." With that being said, if you can add this one to your library, you won't regret the purchase.

Creamy Wild Rice Soup with Sweet Potato Croutons
Serves 4 to 6

2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp red curry paste (I use 1 tsp green curry and 1/2 tsp red chili paste)
1 large glove garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup wild rice, rinsed
4 cups water
1 orange-fleshed sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
Fine grain sea salt
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 Tbsp natural cane sugar
1 Tbsp shoyu sauce (or gluten-free soy sauce, tamari)
1 (14-oz) can coconut milk
Squeeze of lime juice

Heat 1 Tbsp of the coconut oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat, then add the curry paste (and chili paste if using), garlic, shallot, and onion and saute for 3 or 4 minutes, until the onion begins to soften. Make sure the curry paste is evenly distributed before moving on the the next step.

Stir in the wild rice and 3 sups of the water. Bring to a simmer, lower the heat a bit, and cook, covered, for about 40 mintues, or until the rice starts to soften, split and show it's fluffy insides. That being said, a surefire way to know when the rice is tender is to taste it.

Meanwhile, prepare the sweet potato croutons. Warm the remaining 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the cubed potatoes and a few pinches of salt. Toss to coat the potatoes, then cook a few minutes longer, until they start to get some color on the bottom. Give them another toss to brown the other side, and continue tossing every few minutes to get more color and crispiness. If the pan dries out, add a bit more oil. When the sweet potatoes are cooked throug and pleasantly crunchy, season to taste with salt, then scoop them out onto a paper towel.

When the rice is tender, stir in the turmeric, sugar, shoyu, coconut milk, the remaining 1 cup water, and 1 tsp salt. Stir, return to a simmer, and cool for another 5 minutes to meld the flavors. Remove from the heat and finish with a generous squeeze of lime juice. Season to taste.

When serving, ladle form the bottom of the pot to make sure each person gets plenty of rice, and top with a generous sprinkling of sweet potato croutons.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I am frequently asked questions by people regarding my diet, how I decided to make those changes, and how I stick with them so religiously. Interestingly enough, many of those questions come from people who although don't have RA, but have other issues that can be brought under control by a diet similar to my own.

What amazes me about this whole thing is how your body has the ability to heal itself when given the proper nutrition and care.

I received this question from a woman who was recently diagnosed with RA.

Hi Jenni,
Congrats on your success at changing your diet and getting your RA under control.
I got diagnosed this past summer so i haven't decided what to do with my diet. I am very interested in trying to make changes though. I was thinking of starting with going gluten free.
I would love to hear more about how you decided what foods to eliminate and how you've managed to stick with it. After all, the comfort foods are soooo easy to grab on days when ya feel bad.

Hi Laura!
It's kind of a long story, I have a blog centered around my story and the changes I have made, here is the link to "My Story" began.html

As far as starting to experiment with your own dietary changes, I suggest keeping a food journal. First, eliminate the most common "allergens" wheat, yeast, dairy, soy, eggs, as well as ALL processed foods and red meats (as they produce inflammation) and stay away from refined sugar.

Eat a completely whole foods diet including lots of [fresh] fruits, veggies, leafy greens, whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa (which is very high in protien) as well as beans, nuts (almonds and walnuts are great) and seeds. If you choose to continue to eat meat, eat lean meats such as fish and organic free-range chicken. You want to continue on this diet for at least a few weeks to get some effect of the changes.

Make sure to write down how you feel everyday and then if you want to start reintroducing some of these eliminated foods in your diet, introduce them one at a time (at least five or more days apart) and again write down how you feel on a daily basis.

The good thing about going gluten free these days is that there are OODLES of options available, much more so than when I started out 5 years ago. Also, reading your food labels is VERY important. Thankfully, over the past few years legislation has been passed requiring food companies to list these common allergens on their packaging, so you don't have to carry around a list of undecipherable words for "wheat."

Shop the periphery of the grocery store, that's where all the whole foods hang out. Avoid buying food that have more than five ingredients and make sure that those ingredients could be recognized by your great grandmother as actually being food. Stay far far away from diet soda or foods containing aspartame, that suff will kill ya!

Honestly, one of the most detrimental foods is dairy. There are a whole host of reasons why we shouldn't be eating (or drinking) the stuff, many of which goes way back to ancient chinese research. Simply put, we can't digest it and we're not meant to. Our society puts far too much emphasis on it's consumption and interestingly enough, not only are we the largest consumers of dairy, we also have the highest instance of osteoperosis. Coincidence?

Also, so you know, if you're thinking of getting tested to see if you are "allergic" to any of these foods, those tests are not always accurate. Just because you test out of an allergy doesn't mean you're not intolerant to it. Makes sense?

I know this all may seem a bit daunting at first, but for me it was worth every single bit of it. If you think about it, it's simply going back to the way we should be eating, and once you're on track you won't even think twice about any of it! In order to stay healthy you need to invest the time in yourself, and once you start doing so you will realize that it's time well spent.

One of my favorite books that I recommend reading is "Skinny Bitch" it's an easy read and it also answers some of the questions you may be having regarding why you shouldn't eat certain foods. I read it in one night, it's light, informative and entertaining. For a heavier read, check out The Blue Zone. The author travels the world to explore groups of people who live the longest and are the healthiest, his findings are interesting and support this very diet.

Please feel free to let me know if you have any more questions...I'd be happy to help!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Vita Mix; A Love Story About A Woman And Her Blender.

I never thought a blender could bring this much joy to my life. That is, until, about three years ago when my husband bought me a Vita-Mix for my birthday. Some of you may be thinking, a BLENDER? For you BIRTHDAY?

Yes. A blender for my birthday.

I use it pretty much every single day to make my morning smoothie, to puree soups, make sauces, cashew cream ...The list is endless (If you really want a longer list, go here.)

I strongly believe that having nice appliances in your kitchen makes for a much more enjoyable cooking experience. The same goes for a nice set of sharp knives. Have you ever tried to dice an onion with a dull knife? Not fun.

Anyway, back to the blender. It's easy to clean, is dishwasher safe and most importantly, it has enough horsepower to effectively grind avocado pits...At 250mph. Now that's a serious blender.

Does anyone else have any kitchen appliances that they can't live without? Share them in the comments!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Healing Thoughts

You can find inspiration in others, but the motivation to make that change can come only from within.

An important thought, especially when you're at a point in your life where change needs to be made, but taking that first step seems especially daunting.

I've been there. I remember sitting on the sofa, trying to figure out how I was going to get up . The joints in me knees were painful and swollen to the size of large grapefruits, my wrists and my hands were throbbing, my shoulders were not functioning, and I was stuck. At that moment I thought; "How am I going to live the rest of my life like this?"

And that was it, that was the breaking point. My inability to get off the sofa was the spark that motivated the change.

I wasn't about to give up on myself, and I didn't.

An important lesson learned: You have the power to take your life back. You have the ability to make the necessary changes in your life to live it how you want it to be lived. For me, rheumatoid arthritis was a bump in the road, but I didn't let it throw me off course. I acknowledged it, and through changes in my diet and exercise I was able to overcome it.

Ultimately what I want from this blog is to take my experience and help others find the positive inspiration that can motivate their change, provide some tried and true recipes, and hopefully get a few laughs. Remember: Laughter is a healer and we could all use a little more of it in our lives!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Say Hello to the Soup Floozie!

I'm a self-proclaimed soup floozie, and I'll say it proudly because...Well...I love soup. I walk the streets searching for the next great soup and once I find it, I tell it how much I love it, how nothing compares to it, and how it's the only soup for me...Until the next soup comes along, then I say how it's not the soup, it's me, things get awkward, we see each other every once in a while, but it's not the same, not like it was in the beginning...

I don't discriminate when it come to soup, I love creamy soups, broths, chilis, stews, chowders, bisques, hot, cold, lukewarm...I'm a equal opportunity soup lover.

The thing about soup is that it's easy to make, isn't fussy, and requires very little measuring. Plus, you can add pretty much anything to soup and it's going to taste good. It's also easy to get that down-home creamy taste and texture without adding the ingredients that clog your arteries, cause inflammation, and make you fat.

You may be asking yourself, how do you make creamy soup without cream? Well, sit back and let me tell you about the cashew, or more importantly, cashew cream because a) It's easy to make and b) acts as a healthy replacement for cream in your soups.

Cashews provide essential fatty acids, B vitamins, fiber, protein, potassium, iron, and zinc...That's right, they're good for you, and although they do contain a small percentage of saturated fat, it's a healthy fat. So, just don't go scarfing down an entire bowl of the little guys on your own and you'll be fine.

Here is a simple recipe for cashew cream that I snagged out of "Super Natural Cooking" by Heidi Swanson (GREAT book)

Cashew Cream
Makes about 2 cups.

1 1/2 cups raw cashews
1 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed
2 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp fine-grain sea salt
Squeeze of lemon juice

Soak the cashews in a small bowl of warm water for 20 or 30 minutes to soften them up, making a smoother, silkier cream. Drain and add the water, nutritional yeast and salt. Puree with a blender or food processor until smooth and of a cream-like consistency. (You may need to add additional water to achieve the right consistency.) Season with a squeeze of lemon juice, stir, taste, and add a bit of additional salt if needed.

If you don't believe me and want to see the awesomeness of the cashew for yourself, try this recipe from the February 2009 issue of VegNews Magazine...It'll make your toes curl.

Clam-free Chowdah!
Serves 4

2 Tbsp Earth Balance Vegan margarine
1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 1/2 cups cauliflower, cut into large pieces
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp thyme, dried
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 tsp natural smoke flavor
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

In a skillet over medium-low heat, saute 1 Tbsp margarine and oyster mushrooms for 7 mintues, set aside.

In a blender, grind the cashews to a fine powder then add 1 cup veggie broth. Blend until completely smooth.

In a large stock pot over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbsp margarine, onion, cauliflower, and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, then add bay leaves, thyme, white pepper, remaining veggie broth, cashew mixture and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat and cook for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves.

Using either an immersion blender or regular blender, blend until completely smooth. Add potatoes and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Stir in the smoke flavor and add the mushrooms. Serve hot, garnished with sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and fresh parsley.

Stay tuned for more ways to get your soup fix!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Big Bite of Nostalgia: Vegan Tater Tot Hotdish

WARNING: THIS RECIPE (as it is written, substitutions given) IS NOT GLUTEN FREE!

First of all, you may be asking yourself, why is she posting a non-gluten free recipe on a gluten free blog ? My answer is simply that sometimes I throw caution to the wind and have a little gluten, but it has to be for the right recipe (See UPDATE at the bottom). Incidentally, it would be gluten free if I could find an acceptable substitution for ground beef that doesn't contain TVP (textured vegetable protien.) With that being said it was either the cow or the TVP, and when it comes down to that, the TVP wins...Hands down.

(I suppose if you had the time you could take a few thawed gluten free veggie burgers, run them through the food processor and cross your fingers that the end result resembles ground beef...I'll give that a try next time and let you all know how that goes. Or, you could always substitute pinto beans as well.)

On to the recipe at hand. Being from the midwest, the "Land of the Hotdish" I grew up on this stuff. LOVED, L-O-V-E-D it. There's something comforting about hotdish, something indescribable. Sure, many mock the hotdish, but you know they're all closet caserole lovers deep inside.

The classic makings of a hotdish are simple; Just throw together whatever is in a can in your cupboard at the time, mix it with ground beef or turkey and top with something crunchy and then bake it in the oven for about an hour, and *Voila!

I came up with this vegan recipe for Tater Tot Hotdish on my own, with a little consultation from my mom (the hotdish queen) on the key ingredients. The sauce that replaces the cream of mushroom soup may look familiar. It's actually the "cheese sauce" from the infamous Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Interestingly enough, it tastes completely different in this recipe, very authentic, and very creamy.

So call your Grandma, have her bring over the lime green jello with the shreded carrots (you know, the kind that looks like your fish tank froze over?) and have your mom bring a pan of "bars" (pronounced "bahrs") and enjoy this recipe the way it was meant to be enjoyed...With family and friends!

Vegan Tater Tot Hotdish

1package Boca meatless crumbles (thawed) (NOT gluten free, but dairy free)
1 package baby bella's, sliced
1/2 red onion chopped
1 package frozen mixed veggies (thawed) (I used frozen peas, carrots, and corn)
1 package frozen tater tots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute the onions for a few minutes until nearly translucent, then add the mushrooms and cook for an additional few minutes. Combine the mushrooms, onions, Boca crumbles, and mixed veggies in a large bowl and pour in the sauce from the following recipe. Combine well. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish and season with salt and pepper. Add the tater tots to the top until it is mostly covered. Bake for one hour or until the tots are crispy and the sauce begins to bubble.

2 Tbsp + 1/3 cup Earth Balance non-hydrogenated vegan margarine
2 Tbsp shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water reserved from the cooked vegetables
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne

To make the sauce:
In a saucepan add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water. Bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the veggies are very soft.

3. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened veggies and 1 cup cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.

*Fancy French words not necessary when preparing, serving or eating hotdish.

I made this hotdish again and instead substituted pinto beans for the Boca crumbles, which in my opinion is just as good, and I didn't have to spend a week dealing with troublesome joints. Sometimes throwing caution to the wind just isn't worth it!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Truffled Wild Mushrooms Over Whipped White Beans

Sometimes some of the best recipes can be found in those free fliers at your local grocery store. This dish is a perfect example.

I found this in the March/April 2009 Whole Foods flier and immediately thought "DAMN! That looks good..." And, as usual, I was right.

The beans are an excellent source of protein, and unless you've been living in some sort of cave, you know that mushrooms are a great immune booster, which at this time of the year, we could all use a little help in that department.

I, of course had to make a change. Instead of the fresh thyme I used fresh rosemary because I'm more of a rosemary fan, but also because I like to be difficult. There, I said it Josh. You win.

Anyway, what makes this so unique is the truffle oil. Here's your opportunity to get the truffle flavor without paying the truffle price. So, call your agent, put on your sunglasses, and enjoy this dish like the true movie star you really are!

Truffled Wild Mushrooms Over Whipped White Beans
Serves 4

2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts chopped (1/2 cup)
2 15-oz cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp)
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or rosemary. There I go...Being difficult again)
1 lb wild mushrooms, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp truffle oil

Heat 1 tsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add leek, and saute 2 minutes. Stir in beans, broth,garlic and thyme (or rosemary...Ahem). Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to food processor; blend until smooth. Return to skillet, cover, and keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in medium skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms, and saute 8 minutes, or until soft and brown. Season with salt and pepper and stir in parsley.

Spoon whipped bean mixture into shallow bowls, Top with equal portions of mushrooms. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 tsp. truffle oil, and serve.

(Gratuitous Nutritional Chart: per serving: 299 calories; 15g protein; 7g total fat (1g sat fat); 46g carb; 0mg chol; 691mg sodium; 17g fiber; 2g sugars)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Roasted Root Vegetable Enchiladas with Chipotle Cashew Cream

That's right ladies and gentlemen, ENCHILADAS.

You may have been asking yourself how you could create delicious, flavorful enchiladas without the cheese, and I assure you, I had the exact same concerns before I tried this dish for myself. The sweetness of the yams, along with the spiciness of the parsnips and earthiness of the beets topped with the smoky chipotle sauce gives flavor and depth far above and beyond and traditional enchilada I've ever had.

The only problem I have with this recipe is that whenever I prepare beets for roasting, my kitchen is instantaneously transformed into what appears to be a gruesome crime scene. Therefore, if you want to minimize the mess, you can replace the beets with a can of black beans, which, in my opinion, is just as good.

Now, let' talk about this cheese sauce. Awesome. The nutritional yeast, which will add a "cheesy" flavor to the sauce is an excellent source of B vitamins and is also a complete protein, so you can feel good about eating it! This sauce is so versatile that you will find yourself making it for other dishes as well...It's just that good.

As an added bonus you can make the Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice that was featured with this recipe. Honestly, the enchiladas are usually enough for me, but if you want to impress your friends and your family, I'd throw it in. Ole!

Roasted Root Vegetable Enchiladas
Makes 10 Enchiladas
From VegNews Nov/Dec 2008 issue

2 1/2 pounds yams, parsnips, and beets, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups Chipotle Cashew Cream (see recipe below)
10 corn tortillas
14 ounces mild green or red enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss vegetables, onion, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper.

Spread veggies evenly on prepared sheet pan. Roast for 50 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned, flipping mixture after 25 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes and in a large bowl toss roasted veggies with 1 cup of cashew cream. (It is here I add the black beans if I am using them). Turn oven down to 350.

In a shallow plate, pour roughly half the enchilada sauce. Dip a tortilla into sauce to coat each side, spread 1/4 cup of roasted veggies into the tortilla, roll up tightly, and place into a 9x13-inch glass baking dish, seam side down. Continue with remaining tortillas, fitting two rows of five enchiladas each.

Pour remaining enchilada sauce over rolled enchiladas, and drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup cashew cream. Bake uncovered for 10 minutes to heat and lightly brown the cashew cream.

Chipotle Cashew Cream
Makes 1 1/2 Cups
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
1 canned chipotle pepper
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a blender puree all ingredients until smooth

Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice
Makes 5 cups

1 medium white onion, chopped
1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems, rinsed and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Zest and juice of two limes
3 cups water
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups long-grain brown rice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a blender puree onion, cilantro, garlic, salt, pepper, lime zest and juice, and water.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil and rice, and lightly toast for 3-5 minutes. Stir in cilantro mixture. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

Once the rice boils, place saucepan into oven and bake for 50 minutes. Remove and let sit covered for 10 minutes. Remove cover and fluff rice with fork before serving.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Portobello Mushroom Benedict

Brunch. For those of us that are gluten-free and vegan the word “brunch” in the conventional sense can be equated to “there’s nothing here I can eat.”

I remember most recently meeting my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law at the local Original Pancake House for a Sunday afternoon brunch. After examining the menu and asking a few questions I discovered the only thing I could eat was a grapefruit and a cup of hot tea. Not exactly what I had in mind. I had inquired about the hash browns and after some checking the manager came over to tell me that they used “clarified butter” and that should be O.K. for people with dairy allergies. Obviously the man had no idea what he was talking about so instead of arguing with him, I opted for the grapefruit . Yay.

Thankfully, I’ve found a wonderful little location for a weekend brunch that caters to vegans and gluten free folk like me. It’s a little restaurant called Pizza Luce located on Selby Ave in St. Paul. Not only do they have delicious dishes like tofu scramble, jalapeno hash browns, and vegan sausage patties, they also have $1 mimosas and a Portobello Mushroom Benedict that I have come to absolutely love and have made myself at home.

The only thing I do differently is I leave out the English muffin. The Portobello mushroom and hash browns are more than enough to fill you up, and if you’re really hungry you can substitute a veggie patty for the muffin, placing it under the mushroom. (Excuse me while I wipe the drool off my keyboard.)

I searched for a recipe for the vegan hollandaise sauce and all I could find where recipes that used silken tofu as a base. They didn’t taste very authentic, so instead I created my own using raw cashews and it turned out fantastic.

So, here’s to brunch the way it’s supposed to be eaten! Enjoy!

Portobello Mushroom Benedict
(Serves 4)

4 large Portobello mushrooms
1 bag raw spinach
2 green onions, sliced
4 veggie gluten free veggie burgers (if desired)
1 large bag frozen hash browns
Vegan Hollandaise Sauce (recipe to follow)

Begin preparing hash browns according to the instructions on the bag.

Remove stem and gills from mushrooms, wash thoroughly. Place veggie burgers on a heated grill pan and begin to cook. This will take about 8-10 minutes if they are frozen. Meanwhile, drizzle the mushrooms with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and place on heated grill pan cooking about 5-6 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
Place the hot mushroom on a handful of spinach leaves and cover with the veggie patty. Drizzle with hollandaise sauce and top with sliced green onion. Add hash browns to the dish, season to taste and serve!

Jenni’s Vegan Hollandaise Sauce

½ cup raw cashews
½ cup water
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp canola oil or grapeseed oil

Place all ingredients into the blender except the oil. Blend until smooth. Slowly add the oil while mixing on low for about 1-2 minutes to combine thoroughly.

You may want to heat the sauce in the microwave for a short time before serving, but be careful, it will burn easily!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Spicy Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Although I am not one for "New Years Resolutions" (mainly because I do not enjoy setting myself up for failure), I will support those who make them and want to try to stick with them.

With that being said, if you're one of the many people that has decided to take advantage of a new year, a fresh slate, a point for new beginnings, and made that oath to "eat healthy" have I got the recipe for you!

It's simple, fast, yummy, and most importantly; It's healthy.

Before you start, I suggest you try to drain as much water out of your tofu as possible. To do so, I cut it in slices and put the slices between a few sheets of paper towel, then I set a heavy cast iron pot on top of the tofu to press the water out. This makes it so the end product isn't watered down.

Spicy Tofu Lettuce Wraps
Makes 16 wraps
Recipe from Vegetarian Times Magazine


2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbs. minced lemongrass
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. extra firm tofu, crumbled
1 8oz. can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
4 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
4Tbs. hoisin sauce
1 to 2 tsp vegetarian chile sauce, such as vegetarian sriracha
16 butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce leaves

1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts
Hoisin and chile sauces

1. To make Filling: Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, lemongrass, and garlic, and cook 7 to 10 minutes, or until onions are soft and beginning to brown. Add tofu and water chestnuts, breaking tofu into small crumbles; cook 4 minutes, or until heated through. Stir in soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and chile sauce. Transfer to serving bowl.

2. Place lettuce leaves on platter, and set out garnishes in small serving bowls. Let guests wrap tofu mixture in lettuce leaves, and top with their choice of garnishes.