veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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Two Hot Tamales

I was a strange kid. I guess you could say “creative” but I think I was probably just weird. One of the funniest things I remember is playing pretend. I used to keep my mom’s old school paperwork and play school with my little sister. It wasn’t just any pretend school; I took attendance, made lesson plans and even assigned homework to my 5 year old sister (who did not enjoy being my student.)

My cousin and I had a few pretend games we would play too – we made up our own TV shows. By far the best one was New York, New York; a show about two teenage twins growing up in New York City. Again, not just any kind of pretend play, we had a theme song. We would come out of the bathroom in my room the exact same way every time and sing the exact same theme song dancing around like we were being filmed. And, just to make sure I embarrass myself entirely, we had a progressive plot and story line. Ya, that’s right…

From Little Kid’s Bedroom Studios, in association with

What a Weirdo Productions…

New York, New York

Starring: two very odd little girls

Guest starring: the annoying little sister

This wasn’t our only TV show though; my mom’s favorite was probably Two Hot Tamales, our cooking show. Unfortunately, we never got too creative with the meals… it was always the same ‘ole dinner side salad with romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onions, cheese and croutons. But boy did we do an excellent job of chopping those veggies and entertaining our studio audience! We’d set up the entire kitchen table with all the ingredients and tools. Then it was lights, camera, action

“Welcome to Two Hot Tamales! Today we’re going to show you how to make… you guessed it, another delicious side salad.”

There’s a reason for all the reminiscing and self-embarrassment. From a very young age, I have LOVED to cook! I loved to cook with my mom, cook with my dad, cook on my own (when I was old enough). I just really loved creating “masterpieces” in the kitchen. It was a place for me to experiment, sometimes they it horrible and sometimes it was just pure culinary genius.

Here’s my latest creation. It all started with a pre-made can of chili and two poblano peppers. I was doing quick grocery shopping on a late Sunday afternoon after our trip to Colorado. I saw a can of Amy’s Organic Mild Vegetable chili. I was intrigued and still in a “tex-mex” mood. “Hmm, let me inspect that label… vegan, all whole ingredients, low-ish sodium… looks good to me!” Then as I was perusing the produce department I saw some beautiful looking poblanos… “I can definitely do something with those!” It hadn’t clicked just yet… it would still be a few hours before the idea for my masterpiece formed in my mind, most likely in the middle of the night when I’m tossing, turning and desperately trying to sleep.

So I’ve built it up enough… *drum roll please*….

Chili and Quinoa Poblano Stacks

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Disclaimer: There are no specific measurements for this recipe. It’s an easy one, but maybe best attempted by a somewhat more “experienced” cook – someone who can guestimate and taste test through to a finished product. I’ll try and make it again in the near future to put together a more traditional recipe.

Serving Size: 2 people (add 1 poblano per person – or more if you eat a lot)

Ingredients:

  • 2 poblano peppers
  • Red quinoa (1 cup dry)
  • Vegetable broth (read quinoa directions)
  • Non GMO frozen corn (about 1 cup)
  • 1 can of Amy’s Organic Medium Vegetable Chili
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 Haas avocado
  • 1 lime

Directions: 

Cook the quinoa according to direction (I made one cup dry quinoa – and cooked it in vegetable broth).

While the quinoa is cooking (usually takes about 20 minutes), I sliced the poblanos in half, seeded and cut the onions into large slices. Then put on a Cuisinart Griddler (so grill however you can).

As everything is cooking, heat up the Amy’s Organic Chili in a pot. Also, in the last 3 or 4 minutes that the quinoa is cooking throw the frozen corn in with the quinoa to cook.

Once everything is ready (onion and peppers will be somewhat soft and have grill marks), begin your stack…

Place the peppers on the plate first, then a little bit of quinoa/corn mixture, then the chili, then grilled onions. Garnish with diced avocado and a squeeze of lime.

Voila! Gourmet meal in 20 minutes!

Hope you enjoy! If you try the recipe, post a picture on instagram and #veggiefueled! And feel free to get creative with it… just make sure to let me know so I can try it too!


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Work Late. Eat Great.

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It’s all in the planning. Taking a little extra time to plan and prep one day a week will help save time later and ensure that you still eat delicious healthy meals for lunch and dinner. Time and convenience may be one of our biggest enemies when it comes to eating well.

Trust me, I completely understand what it feels like to get home from work late and be completely unmotivated to cook (or do anything you need to do). I’ve been known to chow down on bowls of cereal (notice I said bowls not bowl) instead of nutritious meals because I simply can’t bear the idea of having to cook and clean after a meal! Not to mention that I’m usually famished when I walk in the door.

So, I’ve come up with a few ideas that seem to help keep me on track and have provided for about of month so far of home-cooked meals.

Menu Planning – Think of your kitchen as your family Café. Plan a menu for the week and try your best to stick to it. Make sure to be realistic with the amount of time you want to spend prepping and cooking for the week. Also, we like to include a date night (or night eating out) so that we can have a break from the cooking and dishes.

Menu planning also helps with staying creative and finding new recipes. If you don’t know what to make each night and you simply go by the ingredients on-hand, you’re likely to fall into making the same old thing, week after week.

Strategic Recipes – When making your weekly menu, try and keep prep and cook time in mind. Save the extravagant gourmet meals for the weekend and look for quick, easy and healthy meals for during the week. Found a recipe that requires rice? Make the rice the night before you plan on eating that meal. Then you can prepare the rest of it right when you get home from work instead of having to wait on the rice for 40 minutes.

Leftovers – I’m not a huge fan of leftovers, but I’m willing to make enough for leftovers if its a meal that I really enjoy.  During my husband’s busy season (he’s an accountant) I would usually cook one night that way he could bring dinner with him instead of ordering food every night. The important thing with this tip is to find recipes that keep well – rice w/ beans, baked potato w/ grilled veggies or one pot pasta dishes. The simpler the better. You definitely don’t want a meal that makes a point of it to “serve immediately.” It’ll probably lose its luster if reheated the next day, yuck! Also, avoid things that should be crispy, as they will likely be soggy leftovers.

Afternoon Snacking -This is a big one for both my husband and me… and I’m assuming lots of other people. When I walk through the door with a growling stomach I’m very short sited and can’t envision how great it will be to eat a healthy home cooked meal. Instead I have the “I want it and I want it now” mentality. That’s when take out, cereal, or binge snacking occurs.

The way to combat this issue is to either eat a small snack (apple, small handful of nuts, larabar, etc) on your way home from work or to have “appetizers” planned to munch on while you cook. Having Mexican? Make some quick and easy guacamole (see our recipe at the bottom). Asian? How about defrosting some frozen edamame?

The trick is to make sure your snacks or appetizers are healthy nutritious options. That way if you do accidentally fill up on snacks and appetizers at least it was still nutritious.

Walk in and start – The number one trick I can think of is to start right away. Don’t change, don’t sit down. Walk in and turn on the oven (if it needs to preheat), or pick out all the ingredients that you need from the fridge and pantry. Then change into comfy clothes and continue cooking. Too many times I’ve become a prisoner of my couch; it usually goes hand-in-hand with my bowls of cereal. As exhausted as I am when I walk in, I’m always happy and proud of myself when I stay strong and cook anyways.

Unfortunately these tricks may only be useful if you enjoy cooking in the first place. If you despise cooking, you may require a little more motivation. It might be helpful to buy portions of your meal pre-prepared and cook part of the meal at home. Whole Foods has all their hot bar foods available in large or small portions in the refrigerators. You could always pick up some rice and beans and roast some veggies at home or make yourself a green salad. Start small and hopefully when you see the benefits of eating home cooked meals you’ll start to change your mind about cooking!

If you’re not quite as organized or a planner like myself, then maybe you’d be interested in having someone else plan your meals each week. So I figure, why don’t I share? I’m going to plan my meals each week anyways, how hard would it be to send you my file with the recipes, menu and grocery shopping list!

So here’s my offer: Send me an email at veggiefueledblog@gmail.com with your name and email address and I’ll send you my file each week. Feel free to rearrange when you cook particular meals, how many days you choose to cook, the serving size of the meal and when/whether you have a date night or family night out – but it should be helpful to have a general guideline of dinner ideas. I’ll try and have the list out by Friday night for you Saturday morning grocery shoppers.

What’s that? You think that’s such a nice offer that you’d like to do something for me in return? Aww shucks, you don’t have to do anyth… ok well since you offered. In return for those weekly menus I would love a follow on instragram and twitter @veggiefueled, on my blog http://www.veggiefueled.wordpress.com and to share my blog with friends who might be interested! Thanks!

Have any ideas that would help you stay motivated to make home cooked meals? Let us know!

Dylan’s Quick and Easy Guacamole

Serving size: 2 people (as a snack or appetizer for dinner) You may want to double, triple or quadruple for a party sized portion!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe haas avocado
  • 1 large spoonful of Green Mountain Gringo salsa
  • Green Mountain Gringo Sesame Blues Tortilla Chips

Directions:

Mash avocado. Mix in salsa. Enjoy!

*Note: Dylan wanted me to add that I was in fact very against the creation of this recipe. I had always made my own guacamole, with lime juice, spices, etc… and didn’t think there was any way mixing some salsa in with avocado would be any good. So here, on this day, I will put in writing… He was right. IT’S AMAZING!

Cauliflower: The Ninja Food

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I can honestly say that before becoming a vegetarian the only time I really ever saw cauliflower was on those vegetable party platters, the ones that no one ever likes but for some reason someone always brings… Not sure if I actually ever tried it before deeming it broccoli’s albino cousin and deciding that I didn’t like it?

But now this veggie holds a special place in my heart; oftentimes the MVP of my weekly grocery lists. When I first cut meat of out of my diet I thought I was doomed to a life of texture-less vegan “mush-mush.” My first homemade vegan burrito made me feel like I was eating baby food wrapped in a tortilla. Meat seemed to offer some texture, something I was desperately missing as a new veggie.  I mean sure, you could add other veggies but none of them really stood up to my expectations.

That is… until I discovered cauliflower. When roasted it has a nice sturdy texture and mild flavor. It seems to absorb seasonings and flavor, matching well with any cuisine. I started experimenting and came up with a few different recipes for my beloved cauliflower: Cauliflower Stir-fry, Buffalo Cauliflower Poppers, Cauliflower Picadillo and my favorite, Cauliflower Tacos.

Here’s the recipe for my yummy Cauliflower Tacos:

Cauliflower Tacos with Grilled Veggies and Black Bean Corn Salsa

Serves: 4 people

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head Cauliflower (see directions for prep)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (sliced in thin strips)
  • 1 bell pepper any color (sliced in thin strips)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (cut in quarters)
  • 1 cup non-GMO frozen corn (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro (minced)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 avocado
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • 2-3 tbsp Taco Seasoning (see homemade recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 corn/flour tortillas or taco shells

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees, cut cauliflower into large pieces separating the top pieces from the stalk. Roast cauliflower for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut and prepare onion and peppers for grilling. If you don’t have a grill or don’t want to make a mess grilling just a few veggies, you can sauté the peppers and onions in a small pan with a little oil (you can start grilling/sautéing when the cauliflower is almost done in the oven).

Prepare the black bean corn salsa by mixing the beans, tomatoes, corn, cilantro and juice from 1 lime. Set aside to marinade.

When the cauliflower is done, remove from oven and let sit to cool for 5 minutes. Leave the oven on to heat the tortillas.

While cauliflower is cooling, heat oil in a large pan over medium-high, mince the garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until light brown and fragrant. Crumble (for “ground beef” texture) or chop (for “chicken” texture) the cauliflower into small pieces and toss in with the garlic. Cook the cauliflower and garlic for a minute, stirring to prevent sticking. Stir in taco seasoning and water to coat (adding more water if necessary). Bring mixture to a simmer and then turn the heat to low and cover pan. Let sit covered for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the toppings.

Warm tortillas in oven. Mash avocado, leaving some chunks in a medium sized bowl.

For the perfect taco construction:

  1. Put avocado mash on tortilla
  2. Load up with cauliflower mixture
  3. Top with onions and peppers
  4. Don’t be shy with the black bean corn salsa

Taco Seasoning

Serves: who knows? Makes enough for a couple times of taco cooking

Prep Time: 5 minutes, if that

Cook Time: NONE!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Store leftover seasoning in an airtight container in the pantry.

IngredientsChopping onions and orange bell pepper Squeezing Lime Chopping Cauliflower IMG_1269 IMG_1273 IMG_1287

Get creative with your cauliflower mixture – burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, nachos… the sky’s the limit! Bon Appétit!

Oh and I can’t leave you without this… If you’re in the South Florida area, you have to check out Sublime’s Frito Misto (fried breaded cauliflower with a asian orange sauce). Uh-may-zing! Not necessarily healthy, but it’s good vegan cheat food. http://www.sublimerestaurant.com

Let me know what you think of the tacos! Do you have any suggestions? Questions? Ideas? Let me have it… I’m here to learn while sharing what I know…

 

*Update*

Check out my recipe on the veggie nook’s Healthy Vegan Friday post.

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