Monthly Archives:

November 2011

Quinoa with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Raisins

I say the words brussels sprouts and my roommates still give me the compulsory gag noise. The miniature-like cabbages tend to have this stigma rooted from childhood that carries over for many people even as their tastes mature into adulthood. However, I find the minute I roast brussels sprouts up in the oven, I can generally reverse people’s preconceived notions.

I’ve never been repulsed by brussels sprouts. I ate a lot more objectionable veggies growing up, like overly bitter dandelion greens and slimy, stewed okra. My mom taught me to expand my palate for all veggies very early on.

I can’t say brussels sprouts were ever a favorite though until I learned to ditch the classic steam in favor of the oven. With a little salt and olive oil, a good crisp on a baking sheet can turn brussels sprouts into an almost sinful, french-fry like delight. Okay, maybe their not quite the greasy indulgence I’m painting, but they’re addicting nonetheless.

Here, I threw them in with some quinoa sweetened with curry and raisins. The amplified cabbagey flavor goes perfectly with this sweetness. If you’re like me, you’ll want to finish it all off with a few drops of hot sauce for the perfect sweet, salty and spicy combo

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Rice Salad with Marinated Tempeh

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m a huge fan of grain salads. Why? They’re so effortlessly tasty, healthy, and transportable. All it takes to achieve that award-winning, 3-part combo. is this simple 3-part formula: One part grain + one part protein + one part seasoning. It’s as easy as that.

Grains: First you pick your grain. Let’s say you’re tired of brown rice (as used in this recipe), so then go for quinoa. Or bulgur wheat. Or maybe you even try millet. The list could go on, so even though the 3-part formula essentially stays the same, don’t worry about boredom creeping into the picture.

Proteins: Next, you choose your protein. As with grains, there’s a never-ending list of beans you can deploy. If the common legumes like chickpeas or black beans have your appetite dozing off, then break out of your comfort zone and try something different. One of my new favorites are butter beans. Or you could try lentils, adzuki beans, even edamame. Not feeling the beans? Then go for tofu, seitan, or tempeh, like I settled on for this one.

Seasonings: The last part of the formula is when you let your creative side run wild. Decide whether you want to go for herbs or spices or a combination of both. Determine whether you want a sweet, savory, or spicy vibe to flow from your grain salad. You can choose from cilantro, cocoa, curries, cinnamon, cardamon, caraway seeds, Just those six “c” herbs/spices merely begins to conquer the list of “c’s,” let alone the rest of the alphabetical herb spectrum. The seasoning list is probably the longest of any mentioned yet, so have fun with it!

For my latest grain salad, I went with brown rice, marinated tempeh, and cilantro. Easy. I added avocado, a standard ingredient seen in most of my grain salads, simply because I adore it’s creamy richness. It’s incredible how much WOW! power a few slices of avocado can add to a dish.

So what about you…What’s your favorite grain salad combo.?

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Quinoa Stuffing With Butternut Squash and Pecans

I am ridiculously excited for Thanksgiving! I can’t wait for the winding drive back to the country, the welcoming slobber from my dog, and my mom’s Thanksgiving stuffing cooking in the kitchen. Her stuffing is hands down my favorite part of every holiday meal. It’s always brimming with fragrant whiffs of sage and thyme that have me going back for one too many samples while she’s tweaking it on the stove. “Grace, keep your fork out of the pan!” It’s a yearly tradition…

In anticipation of her stuffing, I tested out this recipe I found via the NY Times to bring to one of the pre-Thanksgiving potlucks I was attending. I thought about calling my mom for her recipe, but then I decided I’d wait for her to feed me her signature dish. Just like Saturday morning omelets, it’s always better when Mom makes it.

I love the NY Times vegan collection they always publish leading up to the holidays. This particular recipe got bookmarked because I thought the healthy version of stuffing would bring a lot to a table full of heavy traditional dishes. Plus, ever since I started cooking quinoa, I haven’t gone back. I love the nutty grain, almost as much as I love toasted pecans.

I found the original version to be slightly bland, so I upped the traditional stuffing seasonings, adding an extra dose of sage and thyme. It’s a light and savory dish that would lend itself well to any Thanksgiving feast. It has all the flavor of stuffing, without that heavy bread feeling you get after finishing a pile of the standard version. I’ll definitely be making this again after the holidays finish up.

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Spiced Pumpkin Hummus

Do all vegetarians consume as much hummus as I do? I have enough hummus and bean dip recipes to fill a cookbook and am still concocting new ones on the regular. In addition to working my food processor to death, I’ll even occasionally pick up some Sabra from the store too. My fridge is almost never without some kind of creamy bean spread, and when it is, typically that means my food processor is spinning on the counter.

Even if I wasn’t a vegetarian needing a lot of legume-packed protein in my diet, I’d undoubtedly still be making and consuming hummus in mass amounts. Bean dips keep well spread on my on-the-go sandwiches and they’re perfect for entertaining company. When there’s always hummus in the fridge, you’ll never have hungry guests. Plus, it’s always a crowd-pleaser when you carry it along to other’s houses too.

My latest recipe was of course inspired by my autumn pumpkin craze. What better way to add an extra boost of creaminess and nutrition than with already creamed pumpkin. The cinnamon and chili sauce spice things up in complimentary way, while the mint adds just a hint of freshness.

If you need a last minute Thanksgiving idea, this is your hummus. I’m also sometimes last minute on things, hence why this post didn’t get written a couple weeks ago when I created this recipe with the pumpkin season in mind. But no fear, there’s little prep. required, and like most hummus varieties I’m a fan of, it whips up in no time. Plus, the full-flavored hummus pairs perfectly with all kinds of snacks, making it a great start to any holiday gathering. If this doesn’t get on your list for Thanksgiving, there’s still many more holiday events to come. Or, forget it as a party app. altogether and go with my favorite usage, a generous slather on top of a meaty veggie burger. Mmmhmm.

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Coconut Green Curry with Chickpeas

Coconut milk is the kind of white-mustache-making milk I love. The plant-based milk is capable of adding a vegan-approved creaminess to all sorts of dishes, from sweet to savory to just down right delicious. Here, I pair it with green curry paste to create a classic vegetarian curry. Green curry paste is a traditional ingredient used in Thai cuisine that spruces up this dish with its inherent spice and spiciness.  Sweet potatoes sweep in to compliment the spice and enhance the natural sweetness of the coconut milk. Finally, I add chickpeas for an element of protein, and cilantro to build on the coriander from the curry paste. Alas, Thai food without ever needing to step foot out of my house.

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