veggiefueled.

adventures of a plant-based athlete


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So we meet again, Cauliflower.

Ok, so I know it’s been a while… I’ve really been a slacker when it comes to my veggiefueled obligations. I know I shouldn’t make excuses, but I’m going to anyways:

  1. We’re in the process of packing up our apartment
  2. We have some big life plans in the making (no, I’m not pregnant)
  3. I was employing the quality over quantity method…
  4. …Because I had writer’s block

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Proof of the craziness in my life, extra stressful because I thrive on neatness and order and shrivel up into a stressball in chaos

But enough with the excuses! Hopefully you can forgive me and we can reignite the flames of our reader/writer relationship.

For my “comeback” post I’m going to bring back an old favorite: Cauliflower! In my first recipe post, Cauliflower: The Ninja Food, I explained how cauliflower was the answer to my texture prayers. How it was the perfect “ground beef” alternative, providing great texture and flavor versatility.

Here is another Latin dish recipe, but this time a Cuban (rather than Mexican) favorite! I present to you… Cauliflower Picadillo. I came up with this one a while back (after I figured out that Cauliflower makes great taco filling). I wanted to figure out ways to incorporate the traditional Cuban dishes my mother made growing up into my new plant-based diet – and the result was a great success!

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Ingredients, missing the cauliflower because I had already started cooking before I remembered to take pictures.

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Yummy roasted cauliflower!

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Looks just like the real deal! But veggiefueled…

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Look at the crispiness on that thing… oh ya!

Cauliflower Picadillo

Preparation & Cook time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Serving Size: 4-6 people

Ingredients*:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 large potato (diced)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped fine)
  • 1 small green pepper (chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ cup tomato sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Oil for roasting & sautéing

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut cauliflower into small pieces and coat LIGHTLY with olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until tender.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting, prepare vegetables (potato, onion, green pepper and garlic).
  4. When the cauliflower is done, crumble into smaller (ground beef size) pieces, place in bowl and combine with the oregano, cumin, salt and pepper.
  5. In a large pan sauté the onion, green pepper and garlic in olive oil until soft (about 5-7 min)
  6. Add the cauliflower mixture, vegetable broth, and tomato sauce. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes.
  7. Add the diced potato. Cover and cook another 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are done.
  8. Remove the cover. Cook uncovered around 15 minutes or until the liquid is fully evaporated but the mixture is still moist.

*Note: I do not like olives AT ALL; however they are a big part of the traditional recipe. Feel free to add green olives during step 7.

This last time I actually ended up making empanadas after letting the mixture cool. I just used store-bought (vegan-friendly) pastry dough, but will make my own dough next time. Unfortunately, while the dough was “vegan-friendly,” the ingredients listed looked more like a science experiment rather than something I should be eating. Definitely not something I would want to eat all the time. BUT to make things a little better, I did bake the empanadas instead of fry and they came out super crispy and delicious.

But honestly, the best way to serve picadilllo is over some freshly made rice (brown is healthier, but white tastes so much better), with a side of sliced bananas. I like to pair it with a delicious Haas Avocado & Heirloom Tomato salad. Super simple recipe, and so delicious!

Avocado & Heirloom Tomato Salad

 Preparation time: 5 minutes

Serves: 2 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 Haas avocado
  • 1 medium / large heirloom tomato (or regular tomato)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop tomatoes into bite size pieces
  2. Chop avocado into bite size pieces
  3. Combine tomatoes, avocado, olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper in a bowl
  4. Let sit to marinade while the rest of dinner is being prepared

Hopefully this really simple and delicious recipe makes up for me being M.I.A. for the last couple months. There are some big events coming up that will provide for some awesome blog posts… but until then I’ll have to settle for boring ‘ole recipes. 😉

Enjoy.


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That’s entirely too much produce.

Forgive my reference to Comedy Central’s Kroll Show. Really not all that funny, but for some reason the “Oh, Hello – Too Much Tuna” prank show sketch just cracks me up.

photoHere’s a link for a snippet of the sketch: http://www.comedycentral.com/video-clips/0hxb8c/kroll-show-oh–hello—too-much-tuna

Now we can get to the real point of my post… Too much produce. We’ve all done it, gone grocery shopping (with or without a set list in mind) and have gotten mesmerized with the beautiful greens, yellows, oranges, and reds of the produce department. “Ohh look ______ are in season, I’m sure I can find something to do with them!”

Well I’m a sucker… every damn time. I always buy too much produce. Some weeks I’ll intentionally buy less because I bought too much and wasted the week before, but I always end up running out too soon and fall into the same trap the following week. 

So here are some tricks I’ve learned when you’ve bought entirely too much produce: 

Drink It

Whether you juice or make smoothies (or make hybrids like me), drinking your produce is a great way to use too much produce. The last day before grocery shopping day I take inventory – whatever produce is still good, but at the end of its life will go into either the juicer or the blender. Dylan and I make an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink smoothie once a week. Usually it will substitute one of our meals on the weekend and surprisingly it has led to some of our most tasty concoctions.

Hybrid Recipe: Juice your produce (ex: carrots, cucumbers, lemons, apples, peppers, etc) and then put the juice in the blender with your greens (ex: Kale, Spinach, Chard) and fruit or unjuice-able produce (ex: bananas, pineapple, mango). Add ice and blend!

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Roast It

Have cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, peppers, etc etc etc? Throw it on a roasting pan, drizzle with a little oil, salt, pepper and spices (or leftover herbs you haven’t used up) and stick in a 500 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Look at that, another quick, easy and money/produce saving meal.

You could also toss the roasted veggies into a blender and make a vegetable soup puree. Leave some bigger pieces for more texture.

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Freeze It

So you don’t want to use it all right now? That’s fine, let’s freeze it! Got ripe bananas, make ice cream? Or freeze the peeled bananas whole to make into ice cream or banana bread later. Herbs or greens that are about to go bad? Blend or juice them and then freeze in ice cube trays for later use. Love making tomato sauces? Boil, peel and puree your ripe tomatoes and then freeze in tupperware. The possibilities are endless!

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Chop It

This one may be a better tip for when you first purchase the produce to prevent from wasting – take the time to prepare it for the week. I’ve found that if I have a date with my mandolin (food slicer) once a week and slice up radishes, peppers, onions, and other delicious veggies that I’m much more likely to throw together a healthy, nutritious and exciting side salad. Have a salad bar in your fridge, it’s much easier than preparing the vegetables every day.

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Unfortunately the stuff that’s good for you has an expiration date and doesn’t last forever *cough cough*, twinkies. But that doesn’t mean you should be scared away from making the healthy decisions at the grocery store. You just have to make an effort to do more planning (coming soon in a new post: how to plan your grocery list) and get more creative (another soon to come post: breaking the recipe mold).

Do you have any tips on how to use up too much produce? I’d love to know!