Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili (Crockpot)

I hope, my wonderful, tolerant readers, you do not feel used and abused.

It has, once again, been ages since my last post. So much has happened…. Work has somehow gotten busier and I began grad school. (Because I had soooo much free time to begin with…) The days when I began this blog, days when I had hours each day to spend playing in the kitchen and exploring new ingredients, are gone. Now, I am lucky if dinner involves more than steam vegetables and lentils and top them with salsa and, if I’m feeling particularly sassy, a little Daiya dairy-free cheese.

Today, however, was the day of the biggest football game in America, and I felt an overwhelming desire to prepare a football worthy feast. I made a small bowl of Guacamole, a delicious vegan crockpot chili, and a batch of gluten free corn muffins, and it was off to the races! …er…. football game.

I like my chili a bit on the soup-y side, so feel free to reduce the amount of vegetable broth to make yours thicker. Other than that, this recipe is a fairly straightforward crockpot dish that will leave your house smelling delicious!

Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tblsp Olive Oil
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs Celery, chopped
  • 1 Zucchini, chopped
  • 1 small-medium Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green Bell Peppers, cored and chopped
  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers, minced
  • Herbamare (or sea salt) and Black Pepper, to taste
  • 2.5 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 28 oz can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tblsp Agave Nectar
  • 1 Tblsp Lime Juice, about 1/2 a small lime
  • Zest of 1/2 a lime

Directions:

  1. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of your crock pot. Add garlic, onion, and spices and stir to combine.
  2. Add al remaining ingredients except the lime juice and zest and stir to combine.
  3. Place the lid on your crock pot and set to low.
  4. Cool on low for 6 hours.
  5. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, agave ratio, as needed.
  6. Garnish with lime juice and zest before serving.
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Product Review: Qrunch Burgers

You many have noticed, my faithful readers, that I have been on a blogging hiatus. Time has not been something I have had an excess of, and, as a result, my blogging time was pushed to the back burner.

It is during times like these that products that help build quick, healthy meals are the most valuable. Enter, Qrunch Burgers!

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I was given the opportunity to sample Qrunch Burgers made out of the high protein grain, quinoa, and boy was I impressed. These delicious and versatile patties are gluten free, dairy free, egg free, wheat free, corn free, nut free, low in sodium,  soy free, AND Non-GMO Project verified! Basically, they meet almost every dietary need. 20111015030444-589e94e00000a53

Qrunch Burgers come in a variety of flavors, including Sweet Curry and Spicy Italian, and I had a hard time deciding which flavor to try. Ultimately, GF Guy and I chose to start with the Original flavor in order to get the best idea of what the product was all about.

I heated the Original Qrunch Burgers in the oven, according to the package instructions, and served them along side sauteed spinach and baked sweet potato fries.

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The first bite was not what I was expecting. Qrunch Burgers are not heavily seasoned or processed tasting, like most of their vegan burger counterparts. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find I could actually taste the ingredients! The mild, nutty flavor of quinoa, lightly seasoned with spices was a perfect complement to our meal, especially once topped with Mango Salsa!

To make our experience even better, clean up was a snap! I will definitely purchase Qrunch Burgers again for a quick, week night meal. Next up will be the Curry flavor!

You can find Qrunch Burgers in your local natural food store, Whole Foods, King Soopers, and even Safeway!

Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins

GF Guy is home, and I suddenly feel like baking again!

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It has been over a year since I last made muffins. His first morning home seemed like the perfect time to pull out the old muffin tin and give it a go. I went to my favorite GF recipe blog, The Gluten Free Goddess, where I found a delicious recipe for hearty, whole grain blueberry muffins.

I made a few changes based on the ingredients I had on hand, as I do. GF Guy and I both LOVED them! My changes are highlighted in red. Feel free to follow the link to view the original recipe, and to check out the Gluten Free Goddess’s other delicious recipes!

Blueberry Corn Muffins

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

A la Karina the Gluten Free Goddess

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup certified Gluten Free Yellow Corn Meal
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sorghum Flour
  • 1/4 Tapioca Starch
  • 1/4 cup Corn Starch
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Xanthum Gum
  • 1/2 cup Turbinado Sugar
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Light Olive Oil
  • 1 Tblsp Organic Honey
  • 2 tsp Bourbon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Flax Eggs (2 Tblsp Flax Meal combined with 6 Tblsp warm Water)
  • 1 cup Warm Water (3/4 cup for low altitude cooking)
  • 1 heaping cup fresh, Organic Blueberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. (350 degrees F for low altitude)
  2. Grease a muffin tin with dairy free buttery substitute, like Earth Balance.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
  4. Add wet ingredients and stir until evenly combined. Adjust liquid ratio as needed. Batter should be thick enough to scoop, but not stiff.
  5. Fold in fresh blueberries.
  6. Scoop batter into greased muffin tin, filling each cup 3/4 of the way full.
  7. Bake in preheated oven 17-20 minutes, until done.
  8. Allow to cool 5-7 minutes in the muffin tin before turning onto a cooling rack.
  9. Enjoy warm with someone you love!

Ole’ Lentil Budget Bowl

This year is turning out to be the year of the “quinoa bowl meal”, and with good reason.

These meals are versatile, delicious, and SUPER CHEAP!!!!

We have all heard the complaint that it is simply too expensive to eat healthily and/or to eat gluten free. I would like to challenge any persons who says that to a cook off! At one point, my husband and I were both unemployed. Yet, we still managed to eat a plethora of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. I made my own almond milk, baked my own gluten free bread, and we ate like kings on less than $150 a month.  It is possible. You just have to want to do it and put forth the effort.

Okay… I will step off my soap box now.

It is currently snowing sideways, wet, and nasty outside. I knew that dinner needed to be something spicy that would warm me from the inside out. Out came the hot sauce, cumin, and salsa, and I was on my way!

PS – Guess who finally remembered to charge her camera battery? This kid!

Ole’ Lentil Budget Bowl

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 of a Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Broccoli, chopped
  • 3 Tblsp frozen Peas
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 cup Beet Greens, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Green Lentils, cooked
  • 1/4 cup Quinoa, cooked
  • 3-4 Tblsp Salsa
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • dash of Hot Sauce

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Saute’ onion until translucent. Add Broccoli and cook until tender.
  3. Next, in go the frozen peas, and cook until defrosted.
  4. Sprinkle in cumin and chili powder, and add greens, cooking until just wilted.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

Pesto Quinoa & Lentils

As a continuation of yesterday’s post, we are moving on to the delicious smorgasbord that could be seen below the steamed beets!

I know you were all waiting with baited breath….

I noticed that I rarely use a plate. Every meal seems to be some sort of a bowl meal. What does that say about me? Hmm….

Anyway…. A delicious recipe made from leftover components of meals from the last week is the star of today’s post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Pesto Quinoa & Lentils

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 of a Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 1 Carrot, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Beet Greens
  • 1-2 tsp Beet Green Pesto (recipe here)
  • 1/4 cup Green Lentils, cooked
  • 1/4 cup Qunioa, cooked
  • 2 tsp good quality Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tblsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Saute onion until translucent. Add carrot & broccoli and saute until tender.
  3. Add beet greens & pesto and cook until just wilted.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.
  5. Top with Steamed Beets (Recipe Here)

No “Beet”ing Around the Bush

Again with the beets?!

I know, I know…. But they were on sale, 2 for 1! You wouldn’t expect me to pass up a good bargain, would you? Besides, we should all eat more beets. They are excellent for the liver, boost mental health, and are even considered by some to be an aphrodisiac. (Oh yeah… I went there.) source

I made a big batch of these steamed beets to use on salads and other meals throughout the week. I will give you the recipe for what I ate my beets on tomorrow. It was delicious, filling, and vegan! I win. 😉

Steamed Beets

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch organic Beets (reserve the beets tops for another recipe)
  • 2 Tblsp Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 1 tsp dried Thyme
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a square baking pan with foil.
  3. Clean & quarter beets.
  4. Place beets in the foil lined pan, and pour vegetable stock around the beets.
  5. Sprinkle with thyme, salt, & pepper.
  6. Cover pan tightly with foil, and place in preheated oven.
  7. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until beets are fork tender.

Vegan Cheezy Quinoa

For weeks on end, I have lacked inspiration in the kitchen.

I have fallen into the dangerously boring trap of tossing random vegetables & legumes in a skillet or steamer, topping with marinara sauce or Braggs, and calling it a day. It’s partly because I have no one to cook for, and partly because I have found an inspiring career into which I now pour the energy that I used to pour into my food.

Well, these last few weeks, I began to find a balance between my work and caring for myself. I started Pure Barre classes and recommitted myself to daily workouts & HIIT. I started taking a little more time to prepare meals and listening to what my body needed.

My pictures leave something to be desired. (I kept forgetting to charge my camera battery…..) The recipes, though, are another story. Delicious, nourishing, and comforting… Enjoy!

Vegan Cheezy Quinoa

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened, Plain Almond Milk
  • 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 1.5 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 small clove Garlic, minced
  • 1.5 Tblsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • frozen Green Peas, defrosted
  • 2 Tblsp Sundried Tomatoes
  • 1 Tblsp fresh Basil, minced

Directions:

  1. Place quinoa, water, & bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Remove the bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and set aside.
  2. Make vegan cheeze sauce by placing almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic, cornstarch, salt, dry mustard, paprika, turmeric, peanut butter, & black pepper in a blender and processing until smooth.
  3. Pour cheeze sauce over the quinoa in the saucepan and return to medium-low heat. Cook until sauce has thickened to desired consistency.
  4. Stir in the peas, sundried tomatoes, & fresh basil. Cook until heated through.

Vegan, High Protein Blueberry Breakfast Mug Cake

I might be a genius. Why, you ask?

genius

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I just made a cake…. for breakfast!!!

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The photos may not be the best, but at 6am, I am NOT taking the time to stage a photo-op. Besides, it’s the taste that matters!

My tummy has been unhappy with my breakfast choices of late. For the last few days, breakfast has been certified gluten free oatmeal. The result has been days of bloating, gas, cramping, and ……… My fellow “glu-tards” out there get the picture. I’m not happy about this recent development. I used to be able to tolerate certified gluten free oats. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!!!

I needed something to cheer me up this morning. I needed cake. So I made cake, and it was good. It was also good for me, so that makes it even better!

I took my normal sugar-free mug cake recipe and replaced the cocoa powder with my favorite, vegan protein powder and VOILA! In under two minutes, you get a vegan, gluten free, sugar free, high protein cake that you can eat for breakfast! You’re welcome. I will be accepting my Nobel Prize in 2014.

High Protein Blueberry Breakfast Mug Cake

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp Brown Rice Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Vegan Protein Powder (I like Vega One Natural flavor)
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 4 Tbsp Unsweetened Plain Almond Milk
  • 1/8 tsp Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia (omit if your protein powder is already sweetened)
  • 4-5 Blueberries

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a microwave safe mug and stir until smooth.
  2. Place mug in a microwave and microwave on high for 1 minute.
  3. Top with vegan coconut milk yogurt and additional blueberries, if desired.

BBQ Baked Tofu

If you know me, you know that I am a ‘Fu Lover.

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I LOVE ME SOME TOFU!!!! (as long as it’s not fried)

Plain, straight out of the package or baked are my two favorite ways to enjoy tofu.

I know soy gets a bad rap, but here is the deal…..

I eat organic, non-gmo tofu. I don’t eat many processed foods which are often laden with genetically modified, processed forms of soy. The studies claiming soy is bad for you are inconclusive, in my opinion. Tofu is an excellent vegetarian source of complete protein. Plus, tofu tastes DELICIOUS!

Okay…. rant over. Cause ain’t nobody got time for that! *wink*

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I made a scrumptious BBQ marinade for my tofu before baking it to a “meaty” consistency in the oven. Served atop a baked sweet potato and sauteed greens, this tofu is my new favorite! I can’t wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow!

BBQ Baked Tofu

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 oz) container Firm Organic Tofu, drained
  • 1/4 cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Tbsp Gluten Free, Vegan BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Hot Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Liquid Smoke
  • pinch Sea Salt
  • pinch Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Press tofu at least 4 to 6 hours to remove excess water. I use a Tofu Xpress.
  2. Drain.
  3. Slice tofu in half, width-wise, and then cut into cubes. Place cubed tofu in a resealable container and set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour marinade over cubed tofu and toss gently to coat evenly.
  6. Marinate tofu for 45-50 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Place cubed tofu in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  9. Bake tofu for 30 minutes, flipping half way through.

Vegan BBQ Stuffed Acorn Squash

Hello strangers!

It has been over a month since I last updated this blog. I seem to have reached the point where I feel like most of my dinners are variations on already posted recipes. I suppose that is bound to happen when you have close to 600 recipes posted, but it still makes me feel utterly unimaginative.

The holidays were filled with travel and family. I was able to spend an entire week with GF Guy and Dickens! It was beyond heavenly!

Here is a little peek into the last month….

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THEN it was back to reality. Work has been wonderful and busy. I have been jetting back and forth between San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland each week and planning my travels well into March. To tell the truth, I love my busy, jet set life! I am a transient person, by nature. Traveling for work keeps my wanderlust in check. It’s hard to believe I have been living in the same city for a year and a half. My how time flies!

In other news, I have been vegan for almost an entire month. (minus 1 evening where my options were gluten or fish…. obviously, I chose the fish…) I work for a company that sells both gluten-free and vegan products. In an effort to educate everyone at the company on a vegan diet, and in an exercise to develop empathy for what those with dietary restrictions  must face on a daily basis, we have all adopted a vegan diet for the month of January. At first, I thought I would have a difficult time forgoing meat, fish, and honey. However, I am happy to report that I have had no problems! I have felt energized and focused this entire month. So much, in fact, that I am considering adopting a vegan lifestyle. I can’t promise anything. I’m already difficult to feed when I go visit friends and relatives, but we shall see….

For now, I will be vegan until February 1st. My focus during this month’s vegan challenge has been on eating whole foods. No processed meat alternatives for this girl! My diet has consisted heavily of fresh produce, beans, quinoa, and brown rice. In my humble opinion, this is the best way to approach a vegan diet. Food as nature intended is the recipe for a healthy diet. The below recipe is just that. Enjoy!

Vegan BBQ Stuffed Acorn Squash

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small-medium Acorn Squash
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Water
  • 5-6 Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups Green Kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Great Northern White Beans, cooked
  • 3 Tblsp Gluten Free, Vegan BBQ Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Daiya Vegan Cheddar Style Cheese Shreds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut Acorn Squash in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon remove and discard the seeds and strings.
  3. Place squash in a baking dish, cut side down. Pour water around the squash until about 1/4 inch deep.
  4. Place squash in the oven and cook 35-40 minutes, until soft to the touch.
  5. Remove squash from the oven, and place face up on a plate to cool slightly. Discard the cooking water.
  6. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  7. Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil until they begin to sweat. Add the onion and saute 2-3 minutes, until translucent.
  8. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  9. Deglaze the pan with 1 tsp water.
  10. Add the chopped tomatoes and kale to the pan, and saute until kale begins to wilt.
  11. Next add the cooked beans and BBQ sauce and cook until heated through.
  12. Remove the kale mixture from the heat and spoon evenly into the cooked acorn squash halves.
  13. Top each squash half with 1/8 cup of Daiya Vegan Cheddar Cheese Shreds.
  14. Place squash in the oven under the broiler and cook 3-4 minutes until the Daiya Vegan Cheese begins to melt.
  15. Enjoy!