Day 17 of vegan recipe challenge: time to warm up

For those of you not in the States or who live somewhere where “cold” equates to below 60F, send the majority of this country your temperatures. At this exact moment, I don’t actually now how cold it is outside. I would like to live in this veil of ignorance for a bit longer before the biting, bitter reality hits.

So let’s think warm thoughts.

And to me, warm thoughts start in a bowl. A soup bowl, that is. Today’s recipe comes from Kellie Anderson’s blog Food To Glow, and it is super (and not solely because it was indicated as an ideal accompaniment to a Super Bowl celebration, and in her case, introducing this epic-Americana event to a foreign crowd).

Black Bean Quinoa Chili
Serves 4 to 6

blackeanPhoto credit: it’s ALL Miss Kellie Anderson

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and small dice
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 red or green pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
2 bay leaves or 2 kaffir lime leaves (I use 2 whizzed up lime leaves)
1 ½ tbsp mild chili powder (the kind that is a blend)
1 heaped tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
3  400g (14.5 oz) tins of black beans, drained but not rinsed
1 400g (14.5 oz) tin of good quality tomatoes, or 4 tomatoes, chopped
2 heaped tbsp sundried tomato paste OR ketchup
Light vegetable stock, about 1 litre (4 ¾ cups)
85g (1/2 cup) quinoa, rinsed (or 1 cup cooked quinoa)
Handful of thinly sliced cabbage or kale – optional

1. In a large saucepan sauté the onion in the oil for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.

2. Add the garlic, sweet potato, celery and red or green pepper and sauté, stirring as needed, for a further five minutes (to cook down the harder vegetables).

3. Stir in the bay/lime leaves, chili powder, oregano and cumin. Let this cook for a minute before adding two-thirds (eg two tins) of the beans, the tomatoes, tomato paste or ketchup, quinoa and three-quarters of the stock. Bring it to the boil and then turn down to simmer for 15 minutes. If you are using the cabbage/kale, add this towards the end unless you want it well-cooked.

4. While the chili is cooking, blend the remaining cooked beans to a puree with a hand blender, or similar. Add into the chili and carry on simmering for a further five minutes. If you want it a bit thinner – more like a soup – add the rest of the stock.

5. Let the chili sit for a few minutes then taste for seasoning and heat – adjusting as you prefer. Remove the bay leaves or lime leaves before serving warm but not hot, with guacamole, Greek yogurt/soured cream, chopped cilantro/coriander and or lime wedges.

This chili reheats very, very well although if allowed to sit overnight you may wish to add a dash more vegetable stock or water to make up for the absorbency of the quinoa.


Enjoy, Americans and non-Americans alike! I used canned black beans because she calls for a no-rinse, but that should not preclude you from punching in your dried bean ticket.

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 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.

Warming Up From the Inside Out

In case you were hibernating in an underground lair last week, the majority of our country experienced the still trending Polar Vortex. I experienced the coldest temperatures ever as an adult: a high of 27F. How to counter the chill of Jack Frost outside of continual transitions between hot baths and nestling up to the space heater? Make warm, delicious comfort food. Last week had two new gems for dinner entrees:

1) Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup via Cookie + Kate


This was an easy, relatively quick dinner to make during the week. My soup isn’t quite as dark in color as the one pictured in the blog due to using homemade black beans instead of canned. This did affect the overall seasoning profile; I will be sure to add more if I use homemade beans in the future. I would also puree less of the soup than I did in the first batch – I love the chunks of carrots, beans, onions, and celery. We paired it with a slice of crusty Italian loaf from Guglhupf Bakery here in Durham.

2) Chipotle Quinoa Sweet Potato Tacos via Half Baked Harvest

IMG_20140108_190430Didn’t I just see those toppings…?

After having some overwhelming, tear-induced experiences with chipotles in adobo, I was a bit gun shy at first with the recipe. TWO minced peppers? And one tablespoon sauce? AND cayenne? Well, I opted to leave the cayenne out, which was great because this recipe did  boast a nice, robust heat (but no tears – only when I was done with my plate because I wanted to inhale more). This recipe is SUPER filling and made more than we anticipated. I did not make her Roasted Cranberry Pomegranate Salsa, but I will. Oh yes, I will.

In other fun cooking exploration in the last few days, I attempted making homemade Lara bars via 100 Days of Real Food. Since I absolutely adore anything cashew, I opted to make the bars with 1 cup cashews, 1 cup dates, 1/4 cup peanut butter, and 1 – 2 tablespoons water (i used 2). Now, this recipe SAYS it makes 12 bars. Square bars. After whipping this up in the food processor, I was shocked to feel how oily the mash had become – much more difficult to form into squares than anticipated. So, I made bars more similar to the packaged Lara bars and cut them in half. I think they are delicious, and it is great to have just a small pick me up to grab before working out. Currently, I open a Lara bar and break it into two, saving the other half for the next day.


Jump into the pool!


It’s getting there…

IMAG1178Awww..hey little bar (and penguin blanket – I swear, it’s my cats….right)


What are your comfort dishes on those blustery winter days?