Monday, January 25, 2010

Black Bean Burgers

I have some of the greatest friends in the world. Seriously. And they're spread out around the world. America, Canada, Japan, Puerto Rico...this blog is for my beautiful Tina in Puerto Rico.

I met Tina in Japan. We worked together and instantly became likethis. One of the things I loved about her was that she knew all these crazy places to go off base. She had the best little shopping spots and knew all the best eats! One of my favorites that she brought me to was Seaside Jet City Burgers. It was literally on the beach, in a hut, playing nothing but Jack Johnson. :) Yeah, I know. Perfect.

Anyway, my favorite burger (yes, hamburger) was one covered in grilled pineapple and avocado. I couldn't get anything else when we went because this combination was just amazing. Here are a few pictures of my adventures with Tina:

Eating tantan noodles....our favorite!

At the seawall after an amazing day of laying in the sun!

Chula-U...a pool spa she introduced me to. I don't know if we went enough!!!

After a night of Y50 beer. Boy...vegan did my body good!

We have been through so much together, Tina & I, and I love her more than she could ever know. It's been almost a year since we spent time together in Florida and I really hope I get to see her face soon.

On to the food!

I mentioned my favorite SSJCB burger and I decided to recreate it. Duh. That's what I do. :) Here is my black bean burger, which I topped with grilled pineapple and avocado.

Yes, those are kale chips. I was skeptical at first, but kale was on sale at Whole Foods and I made them. Holy crap, so good. Even Cody loved them!

Black Bean Burgers
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup black beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 400° F degrees.

2. Pulse all the oats in food processor until coarsely chopped. Place in mixing bowl.

3. Place medium chopped onion, 1/4 cup of the black beans and 1/4 cup of the corn and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add to the oats.

4. Add remaining black beans, corn and remaining ingredients to the oats and mixed beans. Mix together well.

5. Form into 4 patties. Place on oiled cookie sheet and cover with foil. Place in oven for 5 minutes, flip and cook 5 more minutes.

So easy, so delicious, so good for you! I toasted some buns, put a little veganiase on the bottom, iceburg lettuce, avocado slices, then I grilled up some pineapple that I put on top. Honestly, the spice of the black bean burger is cooled by the avocado then sweetened by the pineapple. It might just be this summer's perfect dish. And the kale chips....stay tuned for the kale chips!!!

Tina, if you read this, I hope you know how much I love you & miss you & how grateful I am to have such a wonderful woman in my life to call my friend! I LOVE YOU!!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Got Chocolate?

This is not a fancy post, nor is this a post that needs any explanation. I'm a girl who loves chocolate. Dark chocolate, to be exact. I guess that's a good thing, too, since I can't really eat milk chocolate. :)

At the beginning of the month (not the year, because it wasn't a resolution), I started cutting back calories. I see so many people cut out carbs or start taking pills or eat nothing but bananas and grapefruit for a month. Really?? Losing weight is hard no matter which way you cut it. But when you're cutting it from weird places, it's going to be even harder to keep it off. Cutting calories not only works, it's logical and doesn't need to be FDA approved!

Picture this: 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat. If you burn 3500 calories from your normal intake a week, you'll lose a pound. If you have an extra 3500 calories floating around, you're going to gain a pound. My daily intake looks something like this:

1 cup of coffee with raw sugar & Mocha Mix = 42 cal
1 cup of Chex Mix with 1/2 cup of Light Soy Milk = 140 cal
Smart Deli sandwich on wheat bread, Vegan cheese, lettuce, Dijon mustard = 232 cal
Carrot strips = 20 cal
Cutie (or some other piece of fruit...but right now, these are my favorites!) = 35 cal
Something fabulous for dinner as seen on this blog :) = 200-500 cal
A cookie, some So Delicious Ice Cream, or hot chocolate = 100-200 cal

Add this all up and include the 400-700 calories I burn on a given day (depending on whether I run or just run my butt off at work!), I manage to eat under 1100 calories a day. If you were to tally up all of your calories for one day, what do you think they'd amount to?

I love hot chocolate.
Not the powdery stuff in the bag, good, warm, homemade hot chocolate. It warms up the hands and belly on cold days but also hits the spot when it comes to chocolate cravings without adding too many calories to your day! This is my favorite recipe for hot chocolate...

Dark Hot Chocolate
Prep time: 3 minutes
Cook time 2-3 minutes

1 heaping tsp Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa
2 tsp raw sugar
Pinch salt
1 - 1 1/2 cups light soy milk

1. In a large mug, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, salt, and a few tablespoons of the soy milk. Whisk until it is smooth and no longer powdery or lumpy. This is very important!!!

2. Add the rest of the milk to the mug, stir, and cook in a microwave for 1 minute. Take out and stir, then cook for another minute or two. Voila!

I hope you try this delicious hot chocolate, especially if you're somewhere cold like me!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pad Thai & Lettuce Wraps

My husband has been gone for the entire weekend, so I've been doing nothing but cleaning and cooking. When he's gone, I barely know what to do with myself! So I do what I do best. Cook & clean. :) I made some delicious gluten free AND vegan mac & cheese ala Erin...tasty gluten free chocolate chip cookies (yes, they were tasty...)...and yesterday I made some Pad Thai & Lettuce Wraps. Now, the lettuce wraps weren't really wrapped, I just needed a name. I made this gyoza "meat" but couldn't find vegan wrappers, so I just placed the "meat" in a piece of lettuce. Worked perfectly!

**My pictures usually aren't great. This one is even worse because I had to take it with my phone as the husband has our camera. Oh well.

Pad Thai
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

From Skinny Bitch in the Kitch

6 oz rice stick noodles
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup mirin (Japanese rice wine)
3 tbsp ketchup (yes, ketchup!)
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp sriracha or other chili sauce
2 tbsp refined coconut oil
14 to 16 oz extra-firm tofu, cubed
1/2 red onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I love onion so I used the whole thing!)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 scallions, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups bean sprouts
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, mint, or a combination
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
4 to 8 lime wedges

1. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the agave, mirin, ketchup, tamari or soy sauce, lime juice, and sriracha; set aside.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a 12-inch wok or skillet over high. Add the tofu and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add the red onion and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the noodles and agave nectar mixture and stir-fry until the noodles are softened and evenly coated with sauce. Add the scallions, bean sprouts, and carrot and stir-fry until all the ingredients are well combined and heated through.

4. Transfer the pad thai to plates or platter, garnish with cilantro or mint, peanuts and lime wedges, and serve.

It was really good! I love the spice and the sweet and the citrus. I will definitely be making more of this! Now for the Lettuce Wraps. I am so fond of these because they're so easy & I was able to do my own thang!

Lettuce Wraps
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

8 large pieces of lettuce, preferably the outside pieces that are stiff and curved
1 cup dry TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein granules! You can buy these in a bag or in the bulk section.)
2 cups boiling water
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 cup mushrooms, minced
1 small onion, minced
1 carrot, finely grated
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1. Place the TVP in a bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Stir, and let sit for a few minutes until softened.

2. In a skillet, heat the sesame oil and add the vegetables, sautéing until the onions are translucent. Add the softened TVP, soy sauce and vinegar, and cook several minutes on high heat until all the liquid has boiled off. Stir frequently during this, to keep the mixture from burning or sticking to the pan.

3. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

4. Spoon about 1/2 cup into each piece of lettuce. Serve as is or add a touch of chili sauce for garnish and added heat.

These two items on one plate was choice! It was such a light dish, and as you can tell, pretty low in calories! I've been calorie counting since the new year (it wasn't a New Year's Resolution, it was just a change!) and I am so glad this meal is tasty and low-cal. I hope you get the chance to try it!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eh, what's up, doc?

I don't have many followers. Do not feel sorry for me; I'm fine with it. For the moment. :) My main goal is to be able to use this blogspot as a reference when I get questions like, "What do you eat?" and "I could never NOT eat meat..." or the classic "Tofu is disgusting!". They can see firsthand that healthy, homemade, nothing-over-the-top type meals can be made...and can be made vegan.

I do have some followers, though, and the ones I have are amazing. One of my favorites being Living and Loving In L.A.. She has put up some great recipes (and DIY creative projects) that make me love her even more! She introduced me to Chia Seeds when I won a giveaway she posted. Well, it's time for another, and I'm shameless!

Living and Loving in L.A. is having another giveaway! She was able to convince 18 Rabbits to give two lucky readers a chance to win all 18 flavors of their tasty bars. Just go HERE to read more about it! You should be following her anyways, so there ya have it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

BBQ Chicken Pizza!

Ever since my beautiful friend, Living and Loving In L.A., posted a recipe for BBQ Chicken Pizza, I've had a craving for it. I would shamelessly plug her recipe here like I'm known to do, but this is more or less a recipe for the BBQ Sauce itself. :)

To start this pizza off right, I highly recommend THIS pizza dough recipe. It works even better in my new KitchenAid mixer. Woo hoo! For the chicken patties, I highly recommend Cluckphrey Chick-A-Roos. Cluckphrey is a great vegan chicken product. If you haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for?

Anyway, the key part of any BBQ Chicken Pizza is the BBQ Sauce! I always have SOME kind of BBQ sauce lying around in my fridge, so I decided to jazz it up and make it my own.

Honey Habanero BBQ Sauce
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

6 Habanero Peppers
5 garlic cloves
6-7 scallions
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup honey
1 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
1-2 tbsp yellow mustard
1 to 2 cups plain BBQ sauce
Any other spices you think might be tasty!

1. HEY! If you don't know this, make sure you read carefully. WEAR GLOVES WHEN CUTTING HABANERO PEPPERS!!! I'm not even kidding you. These suckers are HOT and will burn your life. But they're not so hot you won't be able to eat the sauce.

2. Trim the peppers of stem & seeds. Add the peppers, trimmed garlic, and scallions in a food processor and blend until finely, finely chopped. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add the chopped vegetables. Cook until they start to brown.

3. Add the honey, sauces, mustard, liquid smoke, BBQ sauce, and whatever else your heart desires! Stir to incorporate. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until the sauce thickens up.

That's it, folks! After making the tasty dough, I spread it out onto a pan, brushed the crust with some olive oil, ladled on some BBQ sauce, added the Chick-A-Roos (that I heated a minute or two in the microwave to dice up easy) and then topped it with some thinly sliced red onion. It cooked for about 15 minutes and was pure heaven. The spice of the habanero was followed by a deliciously sweet honey flavor. Yes, I eat honey. I'm deathly allergic to bees, so I've never really seen them as anything else but death machines & honey makers. I don't feel that makes me any less vegan.

This recipe makes quite a bit of sauce, so you will have leftovers. After snacking on the pizza for 2 days, I made some Southern Fried Tofu to dip. And we still have leftovers. Hooray!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Indian Samosa Casserole

Ever since I stopped eating meat I've had a love for Vegetarian Times. The first vegan recipe I ever tried was from this wonderful magazine. When I worked at the library in Okinawa, I was able to take 2 years of back copies, plus the doubles of new ones, and then my best friend, Beth (yes, I have a best friend with the same name as me...and she's equally as awesome), would send me copies with packages of goodies and whatnot. Cody was able to find a free subscription on Cheap, Stingy Bargains and I received my first one in the mail this year.

Needless to say, my love is even stronger for VT. They list all their recipes as either vegetarian, vegan and/or gluten free. I have friends who are gluten free people so I really like to read all of those recipes, too. Then I read the vegetarian recipes and try to see how I can make it vegan. So fun! The month of January has some of the greatest recipes I've seen in a long time and I tested the waters last night with Indian Samosa Casserole. I love Indian food and there was nothing too out-of-the-ordinary in this recipe, so it was perfect.

Indian Samosa Casserole
Vegetarian Times
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes

1/2 cup (unbleached) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp black or yellow mustard seed (I used yellow)
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, optional (NOT optional in this house!)
5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered (1 1/2 lbs)
1 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced (1 cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced (1 tbsp)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth (I'm obsessed with Better Than Bouillon)
2 tsp agave nectar or sugar
2 tbsp soymilk

1. To make crust: Preheat oven to 375°F. (I wish I had read #3 before I started this...getting the potatoes on the oven is important, so take a look before you go any further!) Whisk together flours and salt in a bowl. Stir in oil until clumps form. Add 6 to 10 tbsp cold water, 1 tbsp at a time, until dough holds together. Shape into ball, cover with damp towel, and set aside.

2. To make filling: Stir together mustard seeds, curry, ginger, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a bowl; set aside.

3. Cook potatoes in boiling salted water 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, return to pot, and mash, leaving small chunks.

4. Heat oil in skillet over mdium heat. Add onion, carrot, and garlic and saute 5 minutes, or until carrot is tender. Move onion mixture to side of pan and add mustard seed mixture in center. Toast 30 seconds. Stir in peas and broth. Fold onion mixture into potato mixture; stir in agave nectar. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Spread filling in 9-inch pie pan. Set aside.

5. Roll out crust dough to 11-inch circle on floured work surface. Cover filling with dough, pressing down to make sure no air pockets remain. Trim away excess dough, and crimp edges with fingers. Cut X in center to vent steam; brush with soymilk just before baking. Place pie on baking sheet (it might bubble over! Listen to them!), and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

6. Frozen cooking instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Place casserole on baking sheet, and bake 75 to 90 minutes, or until filling bubbles and crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Ah-mazing! Seriously, I was so impressed with how this dish came out. So was the husband; he had 2 pieces! I have a sneaky suspision it's only going to get better, too, as do most leftovers with tons of flavor. The vegetables were tender and it totally woke my mouth up. The crust was slightly flaky, but didn't fall apart. The only downfall, for me, is that my house smells like a curry house. It was the first thing I noticed last night as I came home, and again this morning when I woke up. It doesn't smell bad, it just smells like an Indian restaurant. Oh well. I guess that's the price that must be paid!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Church Lady Banana Bread

You'll almost always find my banana hook with bananas hanging off of it. They're full of potassium, so they're great for running. They're sweet and easy to eat, so they're a great snack on the go. For me, though, bananas have about a 2-day eating range. I can't eat them if there's a touch of green still on them because the texture kinda makes me gag, but once they have too much brown, I know they're getting too ripe. I'm ok with this, folks. Really, I am.

Ripe bananas go good in so many different things. Make pancakes! French toast! Use a banana as an egg substitute! My all-time favorite, though, is banana bread. Even most people who don't like bananas will eat banana bread. The smell of it cooking and the thought of eating it piping hot out of the oven are enough to keep me buying these delicious peel-away fruits.

My favorite banana bread recipe is from my church cook book, hence the name. The recipe was entered by Ms. Chikako Miller. This particular recipe makes two loaves which is perfect for so many reasons. 1. I can make one with nuts and one without to pacify my nut-hating husband. Haha. 2. I can share! I'm really big on treating people to baked goods whenever possible, so two loaves allows me to do that without hearing the ol' ball & chain complain. 3. We have two loaves of banana bread! Awesome!

Banana Bread
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes to 1 hour

Addapted from the Keystone Church of the Nazarene Cook Book

4 tbsp ground flaxseed
12 tbsp water
4-5 bananas (Thank you, Laurie, for pointing out that I forgot to put how many bananas! Sheesh!)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 - 1 cup chopped walnuts (use 1 cup for both loaves and 1/2 cup for one loaf)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Generously grease the bottoms only of 2 loaf pans (9x5x3 inches).

2. In a food processor, combine the flaxseed and water. Blend until viscous & eggy. This is your egg substitute! Blend all of the ingredients on low speed for 1 minute, scraping the bowl constantly (Hello, new KitchenAid mixer. You'll never know how much I love you). Beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Pour evenly into both pans.

3. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pans. It says to "cool completely", but let's be honest: Banana bread is much better enjoyed warm from the oven!

Not only is this recipe easy, it's de-licious! I know the oil content is really high, so that's why I would like you all to know that you can replace half of the oil with equal parts apple sauce. The sugar content is really high, too, but I used raw sugar so I don't feel as bad about it. This banana bread is so rich and delicious. I promise, you'll love it!

One last note...if you find yourself with bananas that are too ripe and you're not going to be able to use them for a while because you are just ON THE GO, stick them in the freezer! Seriously, this will halt the ripening process but they'll still be good to use! Just let them thaw out a bit whenever you're ready. Enjoy!