Cooked: Vegan Raaka S’Mores

S’mores… Who doesn’t love the flavor fusion of decadent chocolate with soft pillowy toasted marshmallow sandwiched between crunchy sweet graham crackers? It’s something I’ve missed for a very long time and I’m going to go so far as to say this vegan S’mores creation far outweighs any other I’ve had, vegan aside. I think the secret was in the chocolate. I recently discovered a line of chocolate that I’m absolutely smitten with! It’s a company called Raaka! They ethically source their cacao beans, never roast them to leave the true flavors intact as to honor the essence of what chocolate is… They are also here in Brooklyn and make their handmade bars in small controlled batches. I recently signed up for their chocolate of the month mailings: BEST. DECISION. EVER.  For this particular vegan S’more, I chose their 75% dark bar that boasts tasting notes of golden plum, rice wine and pistachio. It’s truly something to behold. Another great bar for a S’more would be their vegan Coconut Milk or the Bourbon Cask bar. Yum!   For the marshmallows, I can’t find anything better out there than Dandies! Definitely go with these as they are flawless puffed delights sans gelatin.   IMG_4526   Ingredients:

  • Vegan Graham Crackers (I used Erewhon brand)
  • 1 bar of Raaka chocolate (I used 75% Madagascar)
  • Several vegan marshmallows ( I used Dandies)

Directions: There are actually a couple ways to pull this off, if you have access to a flame and want to roast your marshmallows the old fashioned way, by all means — please do it! I went ahead and just set the marshmallows on the graham crackers with a tray underneath (just in case!) on broil in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the marshmallows began to brown slightly. Next, place a couple squares of Raaka on the warm toasted marshmallows and close with another graham cracker! This is about as close to camping as I get, and boy is it delicious!   To check out more of what Raaka has to offer: http://www.raakachocolate.com/

Cooked: Quinoa Mac n’ Smoked Cashew Cheese

It’s been awhile. I know. I’m putting myself in time out actually. It’s been far too long since my last post so I’m going to try and make up for some lost time and post a few recipes this week! Here’s the first one and it’s something I adapted after tasting the baked artichoke macaroni at one of my favorite vegan restaurants here in Brooklyn; M.O.B. It has this yummy creamy smokey cheese with pecans and a side of broccolini. Such a comfort meal and very satisfying! M.O.B. doesn’t use the quinoa macaroni that I prefer. I like to go with quinoa since it’s gluten free and makes me feel like I ate a healthy grain. So here we go…

IMG_4931

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz box of quinoa elbow pasta cooked according to directions (you can use shells, rotini, etc if you prefer!)
  • 1/2 lb of broccolini 
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (grade A or B)
  • a few handfuls of pecans
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Smoked Cashew Cheese (see below)

Smoked Cashew Cheese:

Combine the following in a high speed blender, except Olive Oil and blend while adding Olive Oil slowly to the moving blender. Add water to create the desired cheesy consistency.

  • 1 Cup Cashews (preferably soaked for 3-4 hours)
  • 1/3 Bell Pepper (yellow, orange or red)
  • A nice big pinch of smoked salt (or sea salt)
  • 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Tsp Onion Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
  • Water, as needed

Directions:

In a pan on medium heat add some olive oil and sliced broccolini, cooking for 5-8 minutes until bright green and semi soft.

Mix pecans with maple syrup and spread on a nonstick parchment sheet and bake in oven for 5 minutes at 350. Careful not to overcook as this will begin to burn and smoke up your kitchen if you leave it in too long.

Add smoked cheese to cooked elbow macaroni and mix well. Serve with the candied maple pecans on top and grilled broccolini on the side. Enjoy!

Raw: Sour Cream & Onion Kale Chips

I’ve had some of the store bought kale chips in this particular flavor and I did enjoy them, but let me just say… These ones are so much better! Not to toot my own horn or anything like that… Seriously, give these a shot. I just kind of threw the ingredients together by taste and ended up with something that I’m going to make again and again since they keep disappearing!

kalechips

Sour “cream” & onion mixture per one medium head kale:

  • 1 1/2 Cup Raw Cashews (soaked for 3-4 hours and drained)
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped White Onion
  • 2-3 Scallions
  • 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • Water (as needed to make a creamy texture)

Combine all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend thoroughly until a very creamy texture is achieved. In a large bowl combine washed and torn pieces of kale with the sauce mixture and massage into kale until fully coated. Place on dehydrator sheets and set to 115′ F for 6-8 hours depending on desired crispiness.

Enjoy and repeat. Trust me, you’ll want to!

Cooked: Spicy Udon & Veggies

spicynoodles

I absolutely love this dish! Anything spicy and savory with an Asian flare is right up my alley. This yummy noodle concoction has become a staple in my home although I’m always shifting the ingredients a little here or there, adding a different veggie or using a different type of noodle. Feel free to make this “your own”. Typically I’ll use Soba noodles for this, but today I’ve made it with organic Udon noodles and it turned out fabulously! It’s very simple to make as it’s basically just three components: noodles, sauce, veggies.

Spicy Almond Butter Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup raw organic almond butter
  • 1/4 cup nama shoyu, tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Sriracha sauce (or less if you prefer)
  • several Tbs water to even out the mixture

Noodles:

  • One 12.8 oz package of Organic Udon noodles (You may also use rice noodles or Soba)

Vegetables:

  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1/3 cup diced red pepper
  • 1/3 cup diced green onion
  • 1/3 cup diced yellow squash
  • 2 tbs minced fresh ginger

For the sauce combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. The sauce should be on the thick side. Cook noodles according to the directions on the package. For preparing the vegetables, add sesame oil to a medium pan under medium heat then add in chopped broccoli and diced red pepper. Shift the veggies around frequently for a few minutes and then add in the green onion and yellow squash (if using). Add in the minced ginger last. Careful not to burn, keep the veggies moving in the pan until cooked as desired. Add the sauce to the noodles, mixing in thoroughly and then add in the vegetables. Garnish with fresh herbs such as cilantro and basil. I also like to add in fresh lime juice at the end… Enjoy!

Product Review: Coconut Bacon by Phoney Baloney’s

coconutbacon

I attended The Seed on this past rainy Saturday in NYC with my beautiful fiance and a good vegan friend of ours . What an amazing paradise full of vegan food, products, information, yoga and people! I must have been in a vegan-coma-daze because I only took a couple of photos toward the end of the day and both didn’t really turn out well enough to post, sorry! At any rate, we picked up a few things that we’ve been partial to for awhile at the event like Treeline vegan nut cheese; who needs dairy anymore? One Lucky Duck raw chocolate chip cookies that taste heavenly! And some seaweed based caviar-like spread called Caviart. YUM!

One product we came home with was something we tried for the first time; coconut bacon!? I honestly was never a bacon die-hard or anything before I stopped eating animals nearly 8 years ago. Sure, I enjoyed it and I definitely remember what it tastes like, it’s not something you forget. Every once in awhile I’ll get a craving for something smoky and savory which I usually quench by making a BLAT (Tempeh Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato). The thing I like most about this coconut bacon is the very thin and crispy texture it has, unlike tempeh bacon. I also feel better about eating coconut than I do any soy product these days. This product is pretty awesome and versatile and the taste is… SPOT ON! Almost in a freakishly perfected way. I highly recommend this product to people who love that smoky, thin and crispy bacon taste and want to eat a completely plant-based replacement that is soy free and most importantly, ANIMAL free!

I could see myself using this on a baked potato, in a sinful rendition of vegan mac n’ cheese, on a BLAT sandwich, in a salad and MORE! The bag says it can even be used in baking… which strikes me as pretty weird, personally. Although I know the whole bacon dessert thing is in full swing these days with oddities like bacon chocolates, shakes, cupcakes and donuts. As long as you’re not hurting any of my pig friends to appease your peculiar food desires, I say pick up a bag of this awesome coconut bacon and knock yourself out!

Cooked: Avocado & Pinto Bean Enchiladas

enchiladas

Enchiladas are one of my favorite comfort foods of all time! My mother made amazing enchiladas when I was growing up and I hadn’t had them in ages as a vegan, until I came across this recipe below! I have doctored it up and changed a few things from the original — but isn’t that what cooking is all about afterall? “Making it yours”. So feel free to take what I’ve done and apply your own alterations, but trust me — this is one mean dish and I always add a bit of hot sauce, I can’t help it!

  • 9 -10 corn tortillas (6 inches each, I used Ezekial corn tortillas)
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onions, thinly sliced (I chose white onion)
  • 1 tsp mild chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can (14 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and patted dry (Pinto beans work nicely, but you can substitute black or kidney)
  • 1/2 c raw cashew pieces
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 medium avocados, peeled and pitted (about 1 – 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 jars (14.5 oz) prepared enchilada sauce (You’ll use about 2 1/2 cups, make sure it’s vegan! I used Frontera brand)
  • 3/4-1 cup vegan cheese, grated (I used cheddar Daiya; optional)
  • 1/2 c fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (optional but recommended)

Preheat oven to 400.  Place tortillas in a 8×12 inch baking dish, cover tightly with aluminium foil, and place in oven to soften for 5-10 minutes while preparing filling.  In a frying pan on medium heat, add oil, onions, chili powder, cumin, allspice, salt, and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high, add mushrooms, beans, and cashews and saute for 5-6 minutes, tossing once to twice.  Immediately toss in lime juice and remove from heat to slightly cool.  In a large bowl, mash avocado and salt – this can be chunky.  Add veggie saute and lightly mix to incorporate.  Remove tortillas from oven, transfer to a plate, and cover with a tea towel to keep warm.  In the same baking dish, pour half of the enchilada sauce evenly over bottom.  Place 1/4-1/3 cup avocado-veggie mixture in center of each tortilla.  Roll tortillas up, tucking in sides as you go, and place seam side down in baking dish.  Pour remaining sauce over top, and cover with aluminium foil.  Bake for 16-18 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 4-5 minutes, until bubbling around edges.  If adding cheese, sprinkle on after casserole has baked for 15 minutes, then baking uncovered for another 6-7 minutes to melt cheese.  Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.  Serves 4.

Note: If corn tortillas dry out, re-soften by returning to oven in covered dish (or by coating with some enchilada sauce).

A Better Life

I called my mom today and we talked for a bit about what she was up to and the weather… then we got to talking about our other family members a bit and the illness that is going on with my dad’s side of the family. The mentioning of how a certain member has “tried everything” including all different medicines and even electroshock therapy got me into a tailspin… I actually screamed because this is just SO UNBELIEVABLY FRUSTRATING to me that this person is going through so much and losing the battle, so it seems… but still hasn’t tried going vegan?! I’m irate at the fact that this “Matrix” we are living under is so sneaky and sly that they’ve got masses believing that dead animals are the only source of protein and animal secretions (dairy) and hen periods (eggs) are a necessary part of a healthy balanced diet! This couldn’t be further from the truth. I often sound like a conspiracy theorist to my family when I start saying how the medical industry and pharmaceuticals are in bed with the animal agriculture companies, but you know what? What else makes more sense than that? It’s a get-rich-quick scheme in order to make the people need medication, they’ve got to get them sick first… Government is involved of course, because it’s far easier to control and manipulate sick people than it is healthy ones! Healthy people think for themselves and start revolutions. Healthy people give a damn because we know life is worth living. It’s about time we stop putting so much stock in our government to care for us and take some responsibility for ourselves. We don’t need them to ban milk, yogurt, eggs, meat… JUST STOP BUYING IT. The industries can’t survive and therefore will have to shift their focus onto vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Everyone will be happier, it’s a win/win. Speaking of that, Monsanto, being the evil shitstorm that it is — is already trying to hijack the healthy foods so they can turn a higher profit while getting people sick. Very similar to animal agriculture. I read somewhere that in their own staff kitchens, they don’t even eat their own GMO foods. And who could blame them? They’re not dumb, just greedy. Thankfully there have been some bans put in place recently to stop them and countries like Bolivia have banned GMOs altogether. We’re going to win this battle, I can already see it.

 

My rant may have gotten a little off track there, but it’s what is on my mind at the moment and I just want people to know that they weren’t put here to suffer unnecessarily. We are going to figure this out and we are all going to be healthy vegans one day if for no other reason than we just cannot sustain any other options, but I like to think it’s because we have learned our lessons. There is an entire laundry list of reasons to avoid eating animals and their secretions… Just pick one and run with it. Maybe you really like animals and no longer want to contribute to the cruelty, maybe you want to be healthier, fitter, happier… maybe you care about the water situation; Abstaining from one pound of beef is about the amount of water you’d save if you gave up showering for 6 months! My reason started because I saw typical slaughterhouse operations and it shattered my heart in a million pieces to know I was contributing to that, but as my journey continues — I find that I am doing it for the love of my planet Earth, myself AND the animals. Ultimately, vegan IS love.