Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

This morning my husband accidentally woke the baby up early. And guess who had to get up with him? Anyways, I got to watch my favorite cooking show of all time, Good Eats. And the episode featured my favorite vegetable, Brussels Sprouts. I’ve seen the episode before, but kind of ignored it since I loved my sprout cut in half and pan fried. But today I paid attention and saw him make the most delicious looking dish ever. Shredded Brussels sprouts with dried cranberries and pecans. I had all those ingredients in my fridge and couldn’t decide what to make, this recipe was just what I needed! I made it vegan and added a few ingredients too. This dish would make a fantastic healthy side dish for the Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels Sprouts
3 ounce raw pecans, chopped
1 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 ounces dried cranberries
1/2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the brussel sprouts and remove any brown leafs. Cut off the tip of the steam. Cut the brussel sprouts into shreds (or use a food processor like Alton did).

In a skillet over medium-high heat, lightly toast the chopped pecans. It will only take a minute or two. The color won’t change much but you will be able to smell the aroma. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the butter and brussels sprout shreds. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, until the sprouts soften.

Next add the cranberries and cook for one minute longer.

Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the olive oil and bread crumbs. Mix well.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Now dig into this delicious dish! Michael and I devoured the bowl. I even hoped Jack wouldn’t eat his  portion (I gave him just the sprouts, never give a baby nuts as they are a choking risk).  But he devoured his too! I will need to make this again soon, it was just so good!

Red Beans and Rice

One pot meals are genius invention. Whether you be busy with work, a fussy 3 month-old or both,  it’s nice to still have a home-cooked meal. And even better when there is only one dish to clean!

I  came up with this one day while Jack was napping and I had a few spare moments to think about dinner. It’s pretty much your standard red beans and rice dish, just with frozen kale instead of bell peppers.

Red Beans and Rice
1 lb bag of Kidney Beans, soaked overnight and rinsed
5 oz frozen kale (about half a bag)
2 cups uncooked brown rice
10 cups water or vegetable broth
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 large white onion, chopped
1 tbs chili powder
1/2 tbs smoked paprika
1 tps thyme
1 tps oregano
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Tabasco, to taste

Combine all ingredients–except the salt, pepper, and Tabasco– into a large pot.

Bring to boil then reduce to a simmer and cover.

Cook for an hour. The beans will be soft enough to eat but still a little firm. The rice should be fully cooked. There will be a little bit of liquid left, similar to a light sauce.

Season with the salt, pepper, and Tabasco as desired!

There is something so satisfying in a classic simple meal like red beans and rice 🙂

Creamy Spinach Dip

Michael and I got were invited to a co-worker’s house to watch the NFL playoff games last Sunday. Michael asked me to make something to bring along. I knew they would BBQ tons of meat, so I decided to make a vegan dish that I wanted to eat. I suddenly thought of creamy, gooey spinach dip with big pieces of sourdough.

This recipe is similar to traditional creamy dip recipes, just no dairy cheese and all the extra protein of tofu. It is a bit sweeter, so you can add more garlic if you want it more savory. I liked it though, went nicely with the sourness of the sourdough.

This recipe will serve 8-10 people easily.

Spinach Dip
1 block of silken tofu, drained
Small amount of vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 a medium white onion, minced
1/4 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/4 flour
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp garlic powder (more if desired)
6 cups baby spinach, wash and dried well
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup vegan mozzarella cheese (I used Daiya)

Pre-heat the Oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a small baking pan (I used a disposable one) with cooking spray.

Put your drained tofu into a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside for now.

In a medium pot over medium heat, belt a tiny bit of butter. Saute the minced garlic and onion until golden. Set aside.

In the same pot, add the 1/4 cup butter and the flour. Mix together well and cook the paste for just a minute.

Whisk in the soy milk and smooth out any lumps.

Add the processed tofu and mix together well.

Add the garlic and onions back in. Add the garlic powder too.

Slowly mix in the spinach a handful at a time. Let it wilt down a bit before you add more.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the dip into the baking pan.

Cover the top with the mozzarella cheese.

Bake uncover for 20 minutes, until the top is bubbly and very lightly golden.

I served this with sourdough bread pieces but any bread, chips or cracker would be great too. Even some carrots and celery would be lovely.

Sorry I forgot to take a picture of it before everyone dived in, people wanted to try it right away. And I was starving and no one can blame a pregnant mama for wanting to eat!

Potato and Leek Hash

I wanted a hot and tasty breakfast when I woke up this morning. Something filling, but not heavy. I had a few potatoes that needed to be eaten so I thought a hash was in order.

I got another organic vegetable box delivered the other day so I decided to add some veggies for more nutrition. The box came with two giant leeks. I think leeks are a seriously underrated food. They have the texture of a very soft celery mixed with a shallot. The flavor is like a mid onion and garlic. They are high in vitamin K and vitamin A. Like their cousin garlic, it also helps support the cardiovascular system. I love leeks because they provide that garlic/onion flavor, but with a bit more crunch.

This recipe makes one large serving (that is surprising low in calories!).

Potato and Leek Hash
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup water
1/2 of a leek stalk (the lower, whiter part—I have a recipe for the leafy part coming up), sliced thin
1 small carrot, diced
1/2 of a broccoli stalk, peeled and diced
Salt and pepper, to taste.

Heat a skillet with a little oil (I used coconut) over medium heat.

Add the potatoes and cook until slightly golden on the outside.

Add water and cover. The steam will cook the inside of the potatoes. Stir occasionally so they do no burn.

Once the water is evaporated, remove the lid. Add all remaining veggies. Cook until the carrots and broccoli are soft, and the leeks are slightly golden.

Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

I served mine over some basic scrambled tofu with some hot sauce on top.

A healthy and easy breakfast, great way to start off my day of cleaning and laundry :-/

Haluski: Polish Noodles And Cabbage

Today would have been my Grandmother’s 83rd birthday. She passed away in February (see my Polish Barley Soup post) and I miss her everyday.  I am sad that my baby will never get to know what beautiful and loving person his Great Grandma was, but I am happy her bloodline gets to live on through him. I promise to make him (healthier versions of) Pierogi and kapusta while telling him the stories about her life on the farm in upstate New York and how our family came over from Poland. That is the best way I can honor her memory. I will make sure he is proud little Polish boy, just like she taught me be a proud little Polish girl.

I decided to make a healthier version of a traditional Polish dish, Haluski. It is a simple pan-fried noodle and cabbage dish common in most Slavic countries. I do remember my grandma making this for me once, but she never mentioned it was Polish. The dish varies a bit between the Slavic countries, but most call for a lot of butter and a giant glob of sour cream. Not vegan or healthy. So I cut out the sour cream, and used far less vegan butter. Also, I used a cabbage/kale mix and added some carrots for extra nutrition.  To be very traditional, you should make your own noodles, called Kulski. I have tried a few times to make them, but have yet to master a vegan version yet, so look out for that recipe at a later date. If you aren’t making your own noodles, normally you use egg noodles, which are not vegan. So I used normal pasta (well actually broken up lasagna noodles because that is what I had on hand).

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Haluski
3 cups dry noodles or pasta (used a smaller, ribbon pasta)
2 tbs vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups cabbage/kale mix (I used Costco’s Sweet Kale Mix)
1/2 large carrots, shredded or peeled into ribbons with a peeler
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the noodles according the directions.  Drain and set aside

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter.

Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent.

Add the cabbage/kale mix and the carrots ribbons. Cook until slightly softened.

Reduce the heat to low.

Add the cooked noodles and caraway seeds.

Stir everything together well. Cook until it is all heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can enjoy this a light main dish, or pair it with some Tofurky Kielbasa to make it complete Polish meal.

I couldn’t help but smile as I ate this, makes me happy to honor my grandma.

Apple Walnut Salad with Tofu

Part of my prenatal care includes a nutritionist, which I think all prenatal programs should have. An expert separate from your OB/GYN that just focuses on how you are eating and proper weight gain. As knowledgeable and beneficial my nutritionist is, I am kind of annoyed with her. I told her I was vegan—no animal products, honey, or eggs. Then we went over my diet. She said it was one of the healthiest she has seen in awhile. Then she went over my blood work. Again, is was amazing. And she had no complaints about my weight gain so far. Then she hits me, “I am sorry, but legally I need to classify you as nutritionally high risk.”

WHAT? High risk nutritionally? Because I chose to break from the standard American diet and not to eat meat loaded with fat and antibiotics? Or dairy loaded with hormones?

Then she reassured me that I am healthy and the baby is healthy, so all that matters. It’s just a legal term. Her only suggestion was I eat one more serving of leafy greens every day. So I have made this giant, veggie-packed salad for lunch most days now.

And yes, this salad has plain tofu. If you do not like the taste of plain tofu (I actually do), you can marinade and cooked it first. But honestly, with all the dressing and veggies, you don’t even notice the tofu.

Apple Walnut Salad with Tofu
3 cups leafy greens (any combination of dark lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, etc.), washed and dried
1/4 cup carrots, chopped or shredded
1 Fuji apple, chopped
1/4 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped
3 oz extra firm tofu,  drained and cubed
2 tbs Annie’s Lite Goddess Dressing
Cracked black pepper, to taste

In a big bowl, mix together all the ingredients. It’s that easy!

You can use any dressing you like, but Lite Goddess is amazing! This is just not for pregnancy, but make a great lunch for everybody. The nutrients of the dark green vegetables, vitamin C from the apples, vitamin A in the carrots, and healthy fat from the walnuts. I even suggest throwing in some avocado chunks too. High risk pregnancy my ass…

Creamy Spinach Pasta

I posted a recipe awhile ago for Cheesy Rice where you cook the rice/pasta in milk to make it creamier. That got me to thinking…if the noodles come out creamier, then you do not need all the (vegan) butter and cheese right? You still get a bowl of creamy goodness but cut out a lot of calories. Thus, I came up with this recipe. I added in spinach for some extra nutrition.  And before you start saying “But the butter gives it more flavor,” just relax. Yes, it is true this dish is not a rich as it could be, but it does not lack any flavor. And I ask you this: Is it that big of a deal to have a slightly less rich bowl of pasta? Will your life come to end because you did not indulge? Do you have to cut out butter and cheese for the rest of your life? No. Nothing will happen if you eat healthy food (that still tastes great) and you can always have the richer stuff on occasion too. I believe this is that magically thing called moderation 🙂

This recipes makes 4 servings.

Creamy Spinach Pasta
4 cups plain soy milk
2 cups water
2 and 1/3 cup of Gemelli pasta
1 tbs cornstrach (optional)
4 cups fresh spinach
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp soy sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper

In a large pot, bring the soy milk and water to a boil.

Add the pasta and cook according to the directions.

When the pasta has about 5 minutes left, add the spinach and garlic. Mix together well.

Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, if there is still liquid in the pot you can add the cornstarch to thicken the sauce and cook for a bit longer. The first time I made it I needed it. The second time I did not. It just depends.

If you want a more “salty/meaty” flavor, you can add the soy sauce.

Season with salt and pepper.

I sprinkled on a little dried parsley as well.

Easy and delicious. This way can you enjoy a bowl of pasta with less guilt!

Lasagna Rolls Up

I kept seeing several versions of lasagna rolls ups on Pintrest so I thought I would give them a try. I like the portion control and that they not as messy as traditional lasagna. I decided to make a very simple version with just vegan cheese, kale, and spinach. I made my own pasta sauce, but jarred is just fine.

This recipe makes 6 servings.

Lasagna Roll Ups
1 box of lasagna noodles (oven-ready is fine)
4 cups pasta sauce  (Try my Mushroom Sauce)
1.5 cup vegan mozzarella cheese, divided into 1 cup and half a cup.  (I used Trader Joe’s Vegan Mozzarella Style Shreds)
1 cup kale (I put it in fresh but sauté would be fine too)
1 cup fresh basil

If you noodles have cooking directions, follow them. If you have no-boil kinda, just bring a large pot of water to boil and cook until al dente. Drain and let cool slightly—but do not leave in the colander too long, they will stick together.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on a baking sheet or baking pan.

On a clean surface, separate the noodles and lie them down flat.

Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons on mozzarella evenly over the upside of each noodle.

Next lay a few kale leaves down in an even thing layer over the noodle.

Next lay a few basil leaves down in an even thing layer on top of the kale.

Starting at one end of the noodle, tightly roll the noodle up. It should hold its rolled shape, if not squish it a bit until it stays.

Repeat the previous 4 steps with all the noodles.

Place the roll ups on the baking sheet. Space a bit apart from each other.

Cover the rolls ups with the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle the remaining half cup of mozzarella over the top.

Bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and slightly golden.

Michael loved these—though I made his with dairy cheese. I think next time I will load them up more, maybe some crumbled tofu and roasted peppers.

Soy Cheese Quesadilla

I have some very exciting news: I have a real job! I now work for Greenpeace doing frontline canvassing. I am so happy to work for an organization that shares my same morals and ethics. I love the environment and know that if people just understood what is truly going on in the world, they would want to be more accountable. I am happy with job and my semi-adult life so far. And, hopefully soon I will have my own place so I can start cooking more again.

I thought I would post a recipe for a healthy version of a college staple: quesadillas. Of course I don’t use real queso, I use Daiya Cheddar Shreds. Using soy cheese alone makes it healthier because it cuts out all the cholesterol. Daiya hands down make the best nondairy cheeses (you can read my review in my Mac and Cheese post), but I don’t care what it claims, soy cheese never melt under basic heat like dairy cheese. But, there is a secret to making it melt—steam. 
For some added nutrients (I mean come on, you can’t just eat a cheap pile of cheese and tortillas), I always add some greens into my quesadillas.  Any fresh greens will do—kale, spinach, swiss chard, lettuce & etc. I used some left over mixed salad that from dinner a few nights ago so I had a bit of each. I also whole wheat tortillas. They have more fiber, which is always good. 
This makes one quesadillas, but just multiply to make as any as you like.
Soy Cheese Quesadillas 
2 small whole wheat tortillas
Handful of Greens (spinach, kale, chard, lettuce…)
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2-3 tablespoons of water, just enough to barely cover the bottom of the skillet 
Spray a large skillet with some cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.

Place one tortilla down into the pan.

Pile the cheese on top of the tortilla. 
Pile the greens on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes.
Top with the other tortilla. 
Pour in the water. I suggest pouring it rounding the tortillas, not directly on, so they do not get too soggy. Add it slowly and stop once it barely cover the whole bottom.
Next cover the skillet, I used a large plate but a lid works fine too. 
Let it steam until the water is all evaporated. You can peak under the cover if you need to, but I just listen until I hear the tortilla start to sizzle.
Remove the cover, and adjust the heat as needed. Let it brown lightly. 
Flip gently and let the other side brown.
Remove from the pan and cut into desired pieces. 
I topped mine with some salsa and hot sauce. It’s easy and pack with protein, vitamins, and fiber. 

Kabocha Squash Soup

I love when good things are cheap. My local health food store had variety of locally grown squash on sale. The minute I saw them, I thought of hot bowl of creamy soup. I first picked-up a butternut squash but then a lovely little green one caught my eye. I didn’t know what kind it was but it wad lighter (hence cheaper) so I bought it. After a bit of Google and asking my mom, I learned it was a kabocha.

Kabocha is a Japanese winter squash. It looks like a squat green pumpkin. It has the texture of pumpkin but tastes more like a sweeter butternut squash. It is high in iron, vitamin C, and potassium. It’s meat is bright orange and it’s packed full of seeds too (I roasted them, a bit chewier than pumpkin seeds but still good). 
I came up with this recipe on my own, but it’s pretty much like any basic squash soup. This would also be wonderful with most other squash varieties as well. 

Kabocha Squash Soup

1 kabocha squash
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cup vegetable broth 
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 cups of kale, chopped
3 cups water
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. 
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. 

Spray a baking sheet or pan with cooking spray and lay the squash cut side down.

Bake for about an hour, until totally soft. 
While that roasts, chop up the veggies. 

In a large pot, heat a some oil and sauté the onions until translucent. 

Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. 

Add the kale and cook until tender. Add the 3 cups water. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Once the squash is done and cooled, scoop out the meat into a blender. 

Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Blend until smooth. You may need to add a bit of water if it’s too thick.  ( I don’t know what happened to the picture of this step, sorry!)

Add the squash puree to the pot and turn the burner on to medium-low heat. 

Add the spices and salt and pepper to taste. Bring up to desired temperature and serve hot. 
I have a bit of a cold again so I had my with a lovely glass of Theraflu. Hopefully the vitamin C in the squash will do me some good.