Me and this pretty lady have been cooking up a storm.
As I mention in my “About Me” page, J has been making the switch to a vegan diet. He eats completely vegan except for the occasional designated “cheat day". Some hardcore vegans might scoff at the thought of him having a cheat day. I prefer to be encouraging; I think it's counter-productive to be outraged at someone for not changing on another person's timeline. I don't judge him. This is a man who held nary a vegetable to his lips for the first year we were together. He says he needs the cheat days right now to stay 100% on every other day. I trust him and his process, and it's working for him so far. His taste buds have even been changing, so some of the foods he used to crave are no longer appealing to him.
J's worked jobs in the food industry and is great at making meat dishes, but has some difficulty creating vegan dishes. Just in the last couple months, he's gotten so much better at conceptualizing vegan meals. I give him tips and ideas all the time, but what he really likes is for me to do the cooking. Sometimes we're a cooking duo, too, which is really fun. He's a creature of habit, and when he finds food he likes, he sticks to it for a long time. I've seen him eat the same rice and bean bowl with homemade salsa and guac way too many times to count. Roasted potatoes w/ onions, ketchup, and vegan sausage? Yep, he was stuck on that for months. I like a little more variation in my meals, but I do see an upside to his fixation. All he needs is a few solid vegan meals to fall back on, and he won't stray for lack of choices.
I've had really good luck with recipes in the last few weeks. I've tried so many and only had one failure. I tried vegan cheddar ice cream, but the texture was off in a big way. Not sure what went wrong with that. I've certainly found a few new gems to throw into the current rotation.
The all-star line-up was led by Elenore Earth's cheesy spaghetti. We were so not ready for this explosion of flavor. We both inhaled it before capturing the beauty in a photo. I only had one zucchini, so I added a pack of kelp noodles which lent a nice crunch to the whole thing. I chopped a bunch of tomatoes and basil and scattered them atop the spaghetti. Along with the hemp seeds, these garnishes elevated the bowl to new levels. J, who doesn't like to compare vegan or healthy foods to their meat-laden or unhealthy counterparts, couldn't stop the flood of nostalgia. He kept thinking back to fettuccini alfredo and white cheddar macaroni. J is a pasta lover and not one to eat vegetable noodles, so I was a little surprised by his enthusiasm for these zuke noodles. This one's a keeper.
Peaches are rolling in with our weekly CSA pick-ups. I was immensely pleased with both the cardamom-scented peach ice cream and the roasted peach and ginger chia pudding I made. The ice cream got rave reviews from friends and family. It was the best I've had in a long while. With my second batch, I made a gluten-free almond amaretto cake to be served alongside it. It was wonderful. The chia pudding's flavor peaked the day after making it just as Gena suggests. I've never roasted peaches before. They were so tasty! I'm reluctant to turn on the oven most days, but this was worth it.
We had some CSA beets hanging around, and I wanted to do something different with them. I made this hemp beet granola and beet sumac hummus. This was my first time using sumac and I really liked it. For anyone unfamiliar with it, it was kind of like a tangy, sweet paprika. I made a salad base of arugula and parsley and topped it with tomato, zucchini, beet hummus, lentil eggplant dip, and my leftover carrot pulp from my raw tomato soup. The colors were so vibrant!
Some other notable recipes I tried were: strawberry pumpkin waffles. (Yes, I've been on a Choosing Raw recipe kick these past few weeks.) The subtlety of the pumpkin paired well with the jam-like strawberries. This pina colada ice cream was devoured rapidly. I've never had raw plantains and wanted to try it out. I found this super easy recipe for plantain pudding and loved it. It had a delightful orange hue. It was great alone, but I also enjoyed a bowl with a whole kiwi tossed in.
When we signed up for the CSA this year, they asked if there was anything we didn't want in our box. I thought, “I'll take anything and everything!” In my zeal for all things veggie, I forgot about green peppers. Green bell peppers are immature red bell peppers. Since I'm not fond of their taste and have heard that they can be hard to digest, I don't bother with them. I get more antioxidants and vitamins from the red ones anyway. We have been accumulating a number of green bell peppers, and I decided to use them to make stuffed peppers. I haven't had them since I was little, but thought it would be fun to make. Normally, I'd love to add in fresh garlic and onion, but they have recently been bothersome to my digestion. I've made a notation in the ingredients if you want to make these additions. These made a filling meal for my dad, J, and I.
Stuffed Green Peppers serves 4
4 green peppers
1 cup water
1 package of dried mushrooms (7g), cooked and chopped
2 T tomato paste + 4 oz mushroom stock
2 t coconut oil
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
½ cup wild rice, cooked
½ cup quinoa, cooked
¼ cup zucchini, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
large handful of chard, chiffonaded
¾ t smoked paprika
¼ t cumin
½ t basil
½ t oregano
1 T gluten-free tamari
3 T nutritional yeast
black pepper to taste
½ cup chopped walnuts
vegan mozzarella shreds, opt.
tomato sauce, opt.
-Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the ribs and seeds. Place in a baking dish.
-Cook wild rice and quinoa and set aside. (I made a big batch of both and had enough use for other meals throughout the week.)
-Rinse off mushrooms. Add them to a pot with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Boil covered for a minute, then shut off the heat. Keep covered for 10 minutes. Strain mushrooms and reserve 4 oz of liquid. Mix tomato paste into liquid and set aside.
-Preheat oven to 350. In a large skillet, heat coconut oil. Add in carrots and celery. Cook 3-5 minutes on medium heat. *
-Add in quinoa, rice, remaining vegetables, and spices. Cook until warmed through or about 3 minutes. Then, stir in the walnuts.
-Fill each pepper with the grain and vegetable mixture. Top with tomato sauce if desired. Add tomato sauce or a very thin layer of water to the bottom of the pan to prevent the dish from drying out and to keep the bottom from scorching.**
-Cook 30-40 minutes, sprinkling cheese on top when the peppers are almost done.
**Alternatively, you can cover in foil and cook. In that case, you don't want water in the bottom of the pan because it won't evaporate and may leave your peppers soggy.