May 26, 2012

Plant-Based BBQ - Tips, Tricks & Recipes!

Memorial Day weekend unofficially kicks-off the summer grilling season, right?  Everyone is ready for summer, ready for cook-outs and cornhole (it's a midwest thing).  It doesn't get much better than sunshine, friends, food and a cold one.

But with everyone ready for the artery-clogging, cancer promoting burgers and hot dogs, what's a plant-based rock star to do at these cookouts!?!?

Don't worry, I'm here for you!  You can still maintain a plant-based, whole foods lifestyle while having fun at cookouts this summer - and it's really not as hard as it seems......

Here are my tips for what to do at those Summer BBQs:

  • BYOVB - Bring Your Own Vegan Burger:
    • There are several frozen store-bought vegan burgers available - GardenBurger makes a great Chipotle Black Bean Burger, and Boca has an okay one too (in my opinion).  However be careful because many of the veggie burgers have egg in them - read the label! And while you're at it, notice how many crazy ingredients are in those burgers!  So while they are vegan, yes, are the whole-foods?  No way.  In our area, EarthFare has a great line of veggie burgers with minimal ingredients - and they taste great too!  So while these are all MUCH better options than meat, they are still not ideal.  
    • Same goes for veggie hot dogs and sausages - Smart Dogs are a great option for hot dogs.  In my opinion, they are very similar in flavor and texture to real hot dogs (you know, but without the lips and @**holes).  Tofurky also makes a great Italian sausage that my husband really likes.  Again, the flavor and texture are great.  However, just as with the burgers, the ingredient list is less than desirable.
    • The very BEST option is to bring a homemade veggie burgers!  I usually make a big batch of my favorite veggie burger (you could also make this one), and freeze a bunch of the patties.  That way, I have one ready to go when I need it, and I can control the quality of ingredients.
  • Bring A Hearty Side Dish:
    • This is a great way to share your vegan awesomeness with others!  I say hearty because in case there isn't much else you can eat at the BBQ, you'll want to bring something filling.  Such as a pasta salad, potato salad, etc.  Here is the recipe for my favorite vegan potato salad (I omit most of the oil, and use pickles instead of a cucumber)!
    • Pasta Salad - can't go wrong with that!  Choose your favorite pasta, add in your favorite chopped veggies, a can of beans, some dressing (preferably oil free!), and herbs and seasonings of you choice - BAM!  A hearty "side" dish that could also serve as a main course for a plant-based rockstar. 
    • Baked Beans - Bush's baked beans are vegan and cheap - a great addition to a plant-based BBQ.  However, again, they are not whole-foods (so just a once-in-a-while thing).  
    • Corn on the Cob
    • Fruit Salad - Yummy yummy!
    • Dips, dips, dips!  Avocado White Bean, Queso, Salsa, etc.!
    • Veggies & Hummus
    • Salad (the cliche choice)
    • Veggie Skewers
  • Don't Make It A Big Deal!
    • I really don't like to make it super obvious that I'm eating something different at BBQs - if people ask, fine.  But if they don't, just eat a bunch of sides, your veggie burger, and have a GREAT time!! 
The best part about being plant-based at a BBQ?  That you can take pride in knowing that you're not sacrificing your health just for a party - and you won't be holding your stomach after you eat, feeling like total crap because you stuffed your face with horrible animal products.  You know how I feel after I stuff my face with pasta salad, hummus, fruit and corn?  Freaking awesome.  

There are so many options now - you CAN be healthy at a BBQ!  Here are some photos from the last BBQ we had - Ann made a pasta salad (just using what she had), I made some quick fries (cut some potatoes, seasoned them and baked them), roasted green beans, and veggies burgers with LOTS of toppings!!  

 

 

 



Off to one of a few BBQs this weekend - I will be bringing my Avocado White Bean Dip, and some oil-free hummus with veggies.  Oh and alcohol.  Lots of that.  

Have fun this weekend and be safe - and don't forget to remember those who served us to help make our lives better.  We are so very fortunate to have the ability to make choices in our country - and those choices are courtesy of the brave men and women that serve our country.  

Happy Plant-Based Memorial Day!

Love & Kale,
Ali

May 22, 2012

Tempeh Stir Fry with Miso-Peanut Sauce

'Sup y'all!?  How ya been??

All is well in Project Kale land, although dealing with transitions.  You see, I have a big milestone birthday nearing, and it has me freaking out a bit.  Anyone else out there ever have trouble with transitions?  Any good tips you can share (besides consuming excessive amounts of alcohol - check!)?

Well for me, a good way to heal a heavy heart is a nice, hearty, healthy home-cooked meal.  Like this one.

Tempeh Stir Fry w/ Miso-Peanut Sauce
I really love stir fry.  My mom used to make it all the time when I was young, so it's a comforting meal to me.  The combination of a protein source, rice, and veggies is a winner every time.  The only down side to stir fries are the amount of oil they usually contain.  I ended up using water, instead of oil and let me tell you - all the veggies still had a wonderful crispy crunch!  Didn't miss the oil at all!  Plus any "flavor" that some may think will be lost with the omission of the oil, is more than made up for with the sauce at the end.

The key is a VERY hot wok (or pan).  I mean, smoking hot (but don't burn your house down like I almost did). It really doesn't take much time either.  I think I had the whole meal on the table in about 15 minutes!

The Miso-Peanut Sauce is also super quick and easy - and let me tell you - it freaking ROCKS!  I had leftovers of the sauce, so I ended up eating it as a dip for my raw veggies the next day.  Amaze-balls.

Instead of yucky, disease inducing animal protein, I opted for our new favorite, tempeh!  Both my husband and I (and Ann's family) have really fallen in love with this rocking whole-food protein source.  I absolutely love the texture, and I love that it takes on the flavor of whatever you marinate it in.  It's amazing how much I love this food that I was so scared of at first!!

I guess it's just another reminder to reach outside your comfort zone and don't be afraid of change.

Just like with difficult life transitions, you might be pleasantly surprised with what you are able to overcome...

Love & Kale,
Ali

                       ____________________________________________________
Tempeh Stir Fry with Miso-Peanut Sauce
Serves: 4
This stir fry is full of awesome textures and amazing flavor.  Feel free to switch up the veggies for whatever you like or have on hand!  You could also sub tofu for the tempeh, if that floats your boat.  Or omit it altogether and add more veggies.  You'll get your protein from the peanuts in the sauce.  Oh the sauce - so, so yummy.  

Print here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice (or quinoa, etc.)
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (or almond butter - be sure to use one without added sugar, salt or oil!)
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp yellow miso
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 8-oz. package of tempeh, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or Bragg's Amino Acids)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • Few handfuls of baby carrots, halved lengthwise
  • Few handfuls of fresh baby spinach
  • Few handfuls of sugar snap peas
  • Cashews for garnish, optional
Instructions:
  1. Cook your brown rice (or grain of choice) according to package directions.
  2. Whisk together the peanut (or almond) butter, lemon juice, miso, ginger, and garlic.  Whisk in 1/3 cup water.  Set aside.
  3. Marinate your tempeh cubes in the soy sauce (or Bragg's), coating well.  Set aside.
  4. Heat a wok over high heat, until water droplets evaporate within a second.  Add some more water and the tempeh, and stir fry for about a minute, stirring frequently.  Add the carrots and broccoli and some more water as needed.  Stir frequently for about another 2 minutes.  Add the spinach and sugar snap peas (and more water if needed).  Stir fry another minute or two, stirring frequently.  Remove from heat.
  5. Toss a bit of the sauce in with the stir fry mixture (about 1/4 cup or so).  Serve the stir fry on a bed of brown rice, and top with more sauce and a handful of cashews, if you like that sort of thing.  ENJOY!

Ingredients

Marinate your tempeh in some soy sauce

Dump all the sauce ingredients together and whisk away

Yummy miso-peanut sauce!

Start with your tempeh (see the smoke?)

Then add your hard veggies - broccoli and carrots

Then add the softer ones - peas and spinach

Add a little sauce to the stir fry mixture

Toss for a light coat

Serve over your grain of choice and with extra sauce and cashews! YUM!

May 10, 2012

A Mushroom Lovers Mother's Day Risotto

Ann's Mother's Day post:

So, we've been super busy with all this wonderful weather and P90x workouts (Ali for that latter), and feeling like I've neglected the blog.
 
Honestly, I've been riding the post-lab high, and cooking up some crazy great stuff.  But have failed to document the process in all my excitement.  However I did churn out a another wonderful risotto recipe that a newly vegan friend sent me.  And of course it included mushrooms, which my family detests......but Ali and I fell in love with this one.

So this was our special treat for our own Mother's Day.   So if you're a mom, dog mom, or just a mushroom lover, treat yourself to something special with this recipe.  Not as grueling as the butternut squash risotto, but still requires that constant stirring.


Oh but it's worth it.

Love & Kale,
Ali

                                   ___________________________________________


 Mushroom & Asparagus Risotto
Original Recipe here.  I tweaked it a bit.

Print here.

Ingredients:
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, woody stalks removed and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 16 oz. mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (optional - I didn't use it)
  • 1 cup Arborio rice, uncooked
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and asparagus and heat, stirring occasionally, until softened (about 5-7 minutes). 
  2. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, and white wine (if using), and heat until mushrooms are softened, another 3-5 minutes or so. 
  3. Add rice and stir until rice is well coated and starts to make small snapping noises (like Rice Krispies). Add vegetable broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well, and allowing the rice to soak up all the liquid before adding more - this takes about 3-5 minutes or so each time.
  4. Once you've added almost all the broth, add the spinach, nutritional yeast, onion powder, lemon juice and the rest of the broth and stir until the spinach is wilted - 2-3 minutes. 
  5. Taste, and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice if needed. Serve immediately and ENJOY.
Ingredients

Chop up your asparagus

Add in your veggies

Add in spinach and remaining broth

Lovely Mushroom Asparagus Risotto, in all its glory



May 7, 2012

Home-made Take-out Night: Curry Noodles

I hope everyone had a great weekend - whether you were celebrating Cinco de Mayo, the Kentucky Derby, or just Saturday - hope it was a fun one!  It was a great weekend over at our house, having fun with lots of friends and a ruined deck from hot wax as proof.  Don't ask.....

Last week, I was in the mood for something quick and easy - and I didn't want to have to go to the store for anything.  It was like a "homemade take-out" dinner (I love a good oxymoron).

I came across an old recipe that I hadn't made in a while, and realized I could tweak it to what I had on hand.  Perfect.

It reminds me a lot of my Szechuan Noodles recipe, but the sauce is lighter, and of course there's the curry flavor in this sauce.  Plus, this one had less ingredients and was done in about 20 freaking minutes.  So easy and so, so good.



Home-made Take-out at its finest.

So what's your favorite quick and easy meal on a night where you don't feel like cooking a damn thing??

Love & Kale,
Ali

                               __________________________________________

Curry Noodles
Serves: Many, many people
Tweaked from this recipe.
The curry is pretty mild in this recipe, so even those that don't love it, still might like the deliciously light and creamy sauce.  The taste is complex, despite the ingredients being minimal.  This recipe is also super versatile - I just used the veggies I happened to have in my fridge.  Feel free to switch it up according to what you have or like.  Some suggestions?  Onions, mushrooms, bok shoy, tofu, tempeh - the possibilities are endless!

Print here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb brown rice spaghetti (or any other whole grain spaghetti - you could also use udon noodles)
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 yellow pepper (or whatever color you have), sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flake (adjust for your heat level)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Garnish options:  toasted sesame seeds, basil, scallions.
Instructions:
  1. Cook your pasta according to package directions.  When done, drain and rinse with cold water - set aside.  
  2. Combine the vegetable broth and cornstarch and set aside.
  3. Spray a large pan with a little bit of olive oil, or add some water, over medium heat.  Add the broccoli and a pinch of salt and cover.  Stir a few times and cook until broccoli is almost tender, about 5 minutes.  Add in your pepper and cook another minute or two.  Prep sauce ingredients while you cook the broccoli.
  4. When broccoli and peppers are done (tender, but still crisp!), put in a bowl and set aside.  Add a little more water to the same pan, and add garlic, ginger, red pepper flake, and a pinch of salt.  Saute for about a minute.  Add the vegetable broth/cornstarch mixture, curry powder and soy sauce.  Cover pan and bring to a boil.  Uncover pan and let thicken a bit, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Mix in coconut milk and turn off the heat.  Add the noodles, broccoli and peppers, and mix until coated.  Top with optional garnishes if you want, and serve in little chinese take-out boxes, if you want to get all cute-sy.  
Ingredients

Saute your broccoli

Add peppers for last minute or two - keep them crunchy though!

Start your sauce - saute ginger and garlic in same pan with some water

Add other ingredients and simmer until thickened

Toss everything together

Homemade take-out - YUMMY

May 3, 2012

Mexican Pizza & Save the Date!

Long time, no blog!  Everyone still with us out there!?!?  Still moving towards plant-based rock stardom???  I hope so!

As for me, I've been a busy, busy vegan bee over here.  I went down to Mississippi (yes I sang the song while I typed the state name) to surprise my cousin for her birthday.  It was really great to see family that I don't get to see that often.  And even though it was "small town America," those people can party!!  It was a great time.

Food wise, a slightly different story.  It was like my trip to Texas, except without the city hippies that offer vegetarian and vegan options.  So I was in the thick of "meat and potatoes" country, without a big city to help a vegan sista' out!  I mean, my cousin's husband even wore his T-shirt from the local BBQ restaurant that read, "We didn't climb to the top of the food chain to eat vegetables!!" - in my honor.  Thanks Brad!

I had a feeling I wouldn't be able to eat much, so I packed a crapload of Larabars, lots of fruit, and lots of energy balls.  I ended up sustaining myself on the following:  a vegetarian pizza with no cheese, sides of red potatoes and corn-on-the-cob, vegetable fried rice with no egg, chips & salsa, pasta salad, oatmeal, and fruit.  For fast food, we only stopped twice - once, at Hot Head Burritos (a plant-based rockstar's dream fast food joint) and once at Wendy's.

Yes you heard me right.  I said WENDY'S!

You're not going to believe it, but I actually got a great fast food meal there!!  I had a plain baked potato, broccoli, and a freaking sweet potato.  Yeah, I didn't know Wendy's had sweet potatoes either!!  My mom and I were in heaven.  We also felt like it was a sign that maybe fast food places will offer more and more healthy and vegetarian options.  Burger King has a vegetarian burger, McDonald's offers apple slices, and now Wendy's has sweet potatoes.

We're getting there.

So after all the craziness of the past week, I wanted to make a simple, home cooked meal.  Mexican Pizza it was.



I really love this black bean dip mixture - it's super versatile - you can use it on the pizzas, in a burrito, even as a warm dip for tortilla chips!  Plus, you can top the pizza with whatever you're feeling (or whatever you have on hand), so it's very easy.  Oh, and it freaking tastes amazing too.

SAVE THE DATE!
Along with Jackie Zofkie of Juice Plus+, we're co-sponsoring a great event:
 "Smoothies & A Movie"
Thursday, May 24th, 6:30-8:30pm
Centerville, OH  

What do garlic, flip flops and sex toys have in common?  For those of you that are in our area, come find out as we will be viewing the documentary, "Ingredients," and drinking some fabulous, healthy smoothies!  It will be informative, restorative, and a ton of fun!  There will also be healthy appetizers, door prizes and giveaways!
If you'd like to join us, please RSVP to Jackie Zofkie - or leave your RSVP in a comment below.  I'll email you with the directions.  Hope to see some of you Project Kale rockstars there!

Love & Kale,
Ali

                             ______________________________________________

Mexican Pizza
Serves:  6-8

Print here.

Ingredients:

  • 8-10 small corn tortillas
  • 2 -15oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (or half a large onion)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (less if you don't like it too spicy)
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • Salt to taste
  • Toppings of your choice: Daiya Pepperjack Cheese, avocado, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, olives, jalepeno peppers, Tofutti sour cream, cilantro, etc.
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Saute onions and garlic over medium heat, with a little water, about 5-10 minutes until onions are tender. 
  2. Add cumin, coriander and cayenne pepper and cook for another minute.  Add the beans and mash with a potato masher, or back of a large spoon.  Stir in the tomatoes and orange juice.  Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and simmer, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.  Add salt to taste.
  3. Place your tortillas onto a baking sheet and top with about 1/3 cup or so of the black bean dip.  Top with a little cheese, if using.  Bake for about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove pizzas and add your toppings of choice.  Cut into wedges and serve!  ENJOY!
Ingredients

Saute onions and garlic

Add spices, saute another minute

Add beans

Mash the crap out of them
Cut up oranges and juice them into the mixture

Add the tomatoes and orange juice


Simmer for a while until it's looking like this!

Top tortillas with a little bean mixture, and cheese, if using

After - yummy

Creamy and delicious

Hubby had jalepenos and olives on his - served with mexican rice and corn 

I had avocado on mine - so, so yum