Day nine of vegan recipe challenge: a good kind of crunch

Not that post-beach, swish out your mouth ten times crunch.


Not that post-dental “polish” that you still find repulsive after 20+ years of enduring.


This is the kind of crunch you want – and may need – in your life. Did I mention that it involves cashews?

cashewThank you for being Ambitious, Monique!

Today’s vegan recipe comes from the kitchen that pushes itself to new limits. Perhaps you would call it the Ambitious Kitchen..or wait, that’s its name. Blogger Monique has dozens of delicious, quality vegan recipes (plus many are gluten-free, etc., etc.) for you to add to your cooking repertoire. This is one of my favorites because: 1) I’m a sucker for cashews; and 2) I’m a big fan of eating from bowls (sorry plates).

So, I share with you a nutrient-packed salad with the nice amount of roasted crunch to satisfy your salt and sweet tooth(s?) Teeth? Whatever.  From The Ambitious Kitchen:

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
Serves 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 15 minutes

  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1-2 cups shredded red cabbage, depending on how much crunch you like
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • ½ cup cashew halves or peanuts
  • Optional: 1 cup edamame or chickpeas
  • Fresh lime, for a bit of tang

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup all natural peanut butter [Krema is one of my favorite peanut butters if you prefer to purchase]
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten-free if desired
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use agave if vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Water to thin, if necessary
  1. To cook quinoa: Rinse quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. Add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. You should have a little over 2 cups of quinoa.
  2. To make dressing: Add peanut butter and honey/agave to a medium microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and both sesame and olive oil and stir until mixture is smooth and creamy. If you want a thinner dressing, simply stir in a teaspoon or two of water or olive oil.
  3. Add as much or as little dressing as you’d like to the quinoa. I always start out with a little bit of dressing and usually add more to suit my taste preferences. Alternatively you can save the dressing for later and add when you are ready to eat; however the flavors of the dressing usually soak into the salad so I love adding it to the quinoa first.
  4. Next fold in red pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots, and cilantro into the quinoa. Garnish with cashews and green onions. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lime wedges if desired.

How do you get your crunch satisfaction?

Day eight of vegan recipe challege: slow cooker to the rescue!

It’s chilly season. Therefore, it is chili season.

Chili is one of the most generic terms for a common food. Over the years, it has evolved from the ground meat slop to a bouquet of colors, textures, and aromas (sadly, still likely causing the same aromatic side effects of its historical brethren.)

I am all about chili in the slow cooker, especially during the week. Knock on wood, I haven’t run into a chili recipe that has absolutely fallen flat. I’ll share a few during this vegan recipe challenge, starting off today with a slightly adapted recipe from My Whole Food Life. You can always swap in dried beans that have been soaked (as the original recipe called for), but if you short on time, go for the canned.

3 bean chiliOriginal recipe & photo from My Whole Food Life

Amazing 3 Bean Sweet Potato Chili
Serves 6 to 8

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans
1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes or 7 cups diced tomatoes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 cup corn (organic, preferred) – fresh or frozen
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
3/4 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Put all ingredients in slow cooker. Turn on low for 8 to 10 hours or high 4 to 6 (depends on your slow cooker’s settings). A minimum of low hours on a medium low temperature should be perfect.

What does a vegan top chili with?

Vegan sour cream (Tofutti is my go-to)
Corn chips (as delicious as Fritos are, I try to find non-GMO corn chips OR use organic tortilla chips)
Vegan cheese
Green onion
Incredible guacamole from my friend Michelle

Day seven of vegan recipe challenge: me-so hangry

Channeling 2 Live Crew is the only way to kick off this banging dish.

It’s another gem from the Oh She Glows cookbook, and as I’ve written about previously, if you haven’t meet miso yet, you are missing out.

What is miso?

Miso is a paste made from fermenting soybeans with salt, a fungus, and sometimes other special ingredients (barely!). Yum, right?

Yes, yum is the correct answer. As you strive to achieve ooji breath in yoga, you want to aim for umami, your sixth sense. (Read fun earlier blog post here).

Not only will miso ping your taste buds in ways you only thought cheese and other foods could, it will bring you to a whole new level of existence, man. Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but this enlightened miso power bowl will leave you full and feeling energized.

I also wanted to address two questions that may come up in cooking:

1) Where do I find miso? Stories like Whole Foods and Earth Fare have a wide selection of miso. It’s not always cheap (ranging from $5 to $8) but it lasts over many dishes. You can also find miso (there’s white, yellow, purple, brown, etc.) at Asian markets and even at Trader Joe’s

2) Is there a substitute for maple syrup? Always. I don’t typically keep maple syrup in the house. I’m a big fan of agave nectar, and there is even a maple-infused agave nectar that I like to buy. I buy this at Kroger. You can also use honey too. Eating honey can be contentious issue for vegans, as it is an animal-derived product. I do choose to eat honey, but I’ll let you make that decision for yourself.

Enlightened_Miso_BowlPhoto credit via Angela Liddon

Enlightened Miso Power Bowl
Serves 2
Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 28 to 30 minutes
gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free option

1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil, melted
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked quinoa

To Assemble:
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 medium carrot, julienned
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1.4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/2 cup sprouts (optional)

For Orange-Maple Miso Dressing:
3 tablespoons light miso
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon maple syrup

1) Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).

2) While the oven is heating up, make the Orange Maple Miso Dressing: In a mini or regular food process, combined the miso, vinegar, sesame oil, tahini, orange juice, water, and maple syrup and process until well combined.

2) Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or invest in these amazing silicone baking liners!). Place the sweet potato rounds on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle them with the oil, rubbing it on both sides to coat. Sprinkle the sweet potatoes with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then flip the potatoes and roast fr 8 to 10 minutes more, until tender and lightly browned.

3) While the sweet potatoes are roasting, cook the quinoa following the directions on the package

4) To assemble, divide the cooked quinoa evenly between 2 plates or bowl and season it with salt and pepper (Katie note: I NEVER divide the quinoa evenly because there is too much for two dinners. I put about 1/2 – 3/4 cup in our bowls and then save the rest). Top with the roasted sweet potato rounds, the edamame, carrots, green onion, cilantro, and, if using, the same seeds, hemp seeds, and sprouts. rizzle with Orange-Maple Miso Dressing and enjoy!

Day six of vegan recipe challenge: what the kale

In 2014, what has been hotter than Nicki Minaj, selfies, and the podcast Serial?


Kale is still reigning as the “it” food. Will it be resigned to the “so last year” list in 2015? I doubt it. No only is the vegetable packed with vitamins and antioxidants, it’s versatile enough when someone says something ridiculous like – “I don’t like kale” – you can say: “But you haven’t tried it like this yet.” Maybe they still won’t like kale, but at least you’ve hit them with your best shot.


Behold! A kale salad of wonder that christened our dining room table this Thanksgiving. No surprise: it’s another Angela Liddon masterpiece found in her first and latest cookbook – “The Oh She Glows Cookbook.”

The splotch marks of the pomegranate juice in my cookbook show that while a mess may occur, it’s so worth it. Who wants a clean cookbook?

splotchThe war of cooking takes its toll

Festival Kale Salad with sweet apple-cinnamon vinaigrette & pecan Parmesan
Serves 4 to 6
Prep Time: 20 to 25 minutes; Cook time: 7 to 9 minutes
gluten-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free

For the pecan Parmesan:
1/2 cup pecans, toasted
1 1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (from 1/2 lemon)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh peeled ginger

To Assemble:
1 bunch kale, destemmed and leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
1.4 cup dried cranberries
1.2 cup pomegranate arils (from about 1/2 pomegranate)

1) Make the Pecan Parmesan. Preheat the oven to 300F (150C). Spread the pecans in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 to 9 minutes, until lightly golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.

2) In a mini food processor, combine the toasted pecans, nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process until crumbly and combined. (You can also chop the pecans by hand and mix everything in a small bowl.) Set aside.

3) Make the Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, oil, applesauce, and ginger until combined.

4) To assemble the salad, place the kale in a large salad bowl and pour on the dressing. With your hands, massage the dressing into the kale leaves until fully coasted. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. The kale will soften slightly during this time.

5) Top the kale with the apple, cranberries, and pomegranate arils. Spring the Pecan Parmesan over the salad just before serving.

Voila! Easy, delicious salad with a nice healthy crunch, some sweetness – and it’s so pretty!

Day five of recipe challenge: post-holiday cleanup

Strewn wrapping paper. Needles dotting the carpet with its full-front green assault. The post-cookie/cocktail/what did I eat at 1am while hiding presents hangover in effect.

picture-perfectThe Griswold family Christmas clean-up?

The first challenge is: don’t beat yourself up if you did get off track. I definitely hung up my exercise shoes on Christmas Day. Not that I didn’t want to run (the sun was FINALLY out!) or be active, but there is something so rare and special as the time of togetherness. How often are you truly together – and present – with the ones you love? Distance, devices, and distractions keep us from achieving this more often than not, and I elected yesterday to be as faithful to the idea as possible.

The second notion to keep in mind: I’ve learned from eating a plant-based diet that – it is in fact harder to fall off the wagon than before. Sure, there are “bad foods” available to vegans (I still cannot believe Oreos are vegan). But, after time putting wholesome foods into your body that you prepare, it’s much harder to slip down that slope of processed food. Now, beer, wine and cocktails on the other hand…

Introduce, the Ohe She Glows “Eat Your Green Detox Soup” – a way to feel better, from the inside out. Put down that gingerbread cookie! Put away the nog. Or, keep it out a for a couple more days. This soup doesn’t have to just be for post-mass consumption: it’s good whenever.

Eat Your Greens Detox Soup
Serves 3
Prep time: 25 minutes; Cook time: 20 to 30 minutes
gluten-free, nut free, soy-free, sugar-free, grain-free

1 1/2 teaspoons (7mL) coconut oil or olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups (750 mL) sliced cremini or white button mushrooms (about 8 ounces)
1 cup (250 mL) chopped carrots
2 cups (500 mL) chopped broccoli florets)
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons (7 to 15 mL) grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon (2mL) ground tumeric
2 teaspoon (10 mL) ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 mL) ground cinnamon
5 cups (1.25 L) vegetable broth
2 large nori seaweed sheets, cut into 1-inch strips (optional)
2 cups (500 mL) torn kale leaves
Fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)

1) In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Ad the onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.

2) Add the mushrooms, carrots, and broccoli and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes more.

3) Sit in the ginger, tumeric, cumin, and cinnamon, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

4) Add the broth and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 20 minutes.

5) Just before serving, stir in the nori (if using) and kale and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, if desired.

C’est bon!

Eat_Your_Greens_Detox_Soup1Photo via Oh She Glows – one of the best blogs/recipe sites EVER

Day four of recipe challenge: cooking vegan does not need to be labor intensive

Let me say that again: Cooking vegan does not need to labor intensive.

It can be, sure. So can preparing countless other meals with animal product. But, there seems to be this mental barrier the general public associates with vegan cooking. “It must take you hours to finally eat!” Or course, that’s not when I’m eating another salad. Because that’s all vegans eat too, salads.

(Note: I am not knocking salads in the least. I quite like salads. But, I loathe the association that somehow that one particular dish sustains me for 365 days a year).

This recipe is going to have two-options (hooray! we love options, Katie). I’m giving you the “I need to make this in 15 minutes” option or the “Okay, I can take a little longer because I don’t believe in store-bought hummus.”

Option 1: Hummus & Tofu Wraps
Recipe notes that it makes 4 total wraps; depending on type of bread & how much tofu you put in each, I argue you could get more like 6 to 8 servings

For the tofu:
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt

Remaining items:
Your favorite hummus (since the tofu is cooked in sesame oil, I would opt for a wasabi or edamame hummus, but even plain will be tasty!)
2 cups hearty sprouts, like broccoli or sunflower sprouts (we used pea shoots from Trader Joe’s)
Whole-wheat wraps or pita pockets

Prepare the tofu:
You’ll need a cast-iron pan or something nonstick that can take very high heat. Preheat the pan over high heat. Once the pan is good and hot, add the sesame oil. Add the cubed tofu and sprinkle with salt. The tofu should immediately sizzle when it hits the hot oil; otherwise, turn the heat up. Cook for about 10 minutes, tossing often, until it’s nicely browned.

To assemble:
Spread hummus in pita/on wrap nice and thick. Add a handful of tofu cubes and a good bunch of sprouts. DIVE IN and enjoy!

Option 2: Edamame Hummus & Tofu Wraps
This is when YOU make the hummus, not someone else. You can find wasabi powder at your local Asian market or even a Whole Foods or Earth Fare. I would assume it would be less expensive at the Asian market.

For the tofu:
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the hummus:
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups shelled frozen edamame, thawed completely
1/3 cup water, plus more as needed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons wasabi powder (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For serving:
Whole-wheat wraps or pitas
2 cups hearty sprouts, like broccoli or sunflower sprouts (or peas shoots!)

Prepare the tofu:
You’ll need a cast-iron pan or something nonstick that can take very high heat. Preheat the pan over high heat. Once the pan is good and hot, add the sesame oil. Add the cubed tofu and sprinkle with salt. The tofu should immediately sizzle when it hits the hot oil; otherwise, turn the heat up. Cook for about 10 minutes, tossing often, until it’s nicely browned.

Prepare the hummus:
While the tofu is browning, start the hummus. pulse the garlic in a blender or food processor to chop it up a bit. Add the remaining hummus ingredients and puree until smooth, adding a little extra water as needed to thin. Taste for seasonings. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed container if not using immediately.

To assemble:
Spread hummus in pita/on wrap nice and thick. Add a handful of tofu cubes and a good bunch of sprouts. DIVE IN and enjoy!

The secret is: get that tofu nice and crisp:

TofuCubed for your pleasure.

Then, voila! Dinner/lunch/snack served:

pitasOh hai pea shoots, where have you been all my life?

Day three of vegan recipe challenge: I hear you parents!

Kudos to you, parent!

I am not one, although someday (SOMEDAY, Aaron), I hope to be. Until then, I admire those who have been able and willing (I hope on both fronts) to take on such an undeniably powerful and overwhelming task. Discipline. Diapers. Teething. Talking-back. Destruction. Chaos.

Wait, am I talking about my cats?

No no, kids. At least, these sentient beings spend far fewer moments in those states of terror (or, at least I will continue to tell myself this) and far more loving, learning, shining, taking on adventures, laughing, and reminding you why pro-creation is a good thing.

One area that could still be challenging – the kitchen. Now, I was a semi-picky eater growing up. Most of my meals consisted of buttered noodles, peanut butter, and a pickle (with ice cream + chocolate sauce for dessert!). Despite that not being the most nutritionally-sound meal, it failed to spark my non-bread/salt tastebuds. Yet, it was an easy meal. And one thing I have gathered from parents: the easier to make/prepare the meal, the better.

So, parents, I bring you a gift courtesy of Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati who put together “The Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook.” There are several out in the market that serve as an homage to this boutique grocery-chain. Most of the recipes aren’t vegan, but – aha! We can be adaptable.


Without further ado, I present one of the tastiest, easiest vegan recipes I have stumbled up:

White Lightning Chili

Makes 8 (1-cup servings)
Prep time: 5 minutes; Hands-off cooking time: 20-25 minutes

2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can white kidney beans (cannelloni beans), rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (13.75-ounce) jar Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa

The original recipe also calls for 1 (1-lb) package of Just Chicken or 4 cups cooked chicken, shredded into bite-sized chunks. If you want to include this, I would recommend one of the Beyond Meat Chicken products, which you can find at Whole Foods or even – yes – Walmart. Trader Joe’s also has chickenless strips. Or, you could throw in Morningstar chicken stripes. Additionally, the recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded three cheese blend. If your kids are wild about cheese, in my opinion, the Daiya brand is the best (less so Follow Your Heart).

1) Pour broth into a medium or large pot. Add quinoa and bring to a boil.
2) Add remaining ingredients and return to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
3) Serve in bowls, topping with shredded cheese (optional).

white lightningImage via

Hope this goes over in your family better than that time someone had the idea of playing indoor football with grandma’s priceless vase.