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BBQ Sriracha Tempeh with Black Rice

BBQ Tempeh

When I’m craving meat, I often turn to tempeh. It’s dense, but not dry, with a heartiness that won’t leave your stomach empty. And there’s no antibiotics or hormones ever needed to get it that way. Amen.

As a vegetarian, I’ve found my  “craving for meat”, is often actually a hunger for the sauces and marinades that go with it. I could care less about BBQ ribs. Wanting them on my plate is like saying I’d want Mountain Dew in my cup for breakfast. Gross.

So tempeh works for me (and seitan), especially when there’s BBQ involved. The summer nostalgia of BBQ is what I really want, not the meat on the grill that it often coats. I want the slightly sweet but tangy sauciness, grass on my bare feet, and a cup of mint tea or cold IPA in my hands.

If you want all that too, well, we might make a good fit. But seriously, even if you love a smoky brisket or BBQ pulled pork sandwich, this Srirarcha Tempeh recipe could likely make its way to the top of your summer eating list, too. Especially with all the comforts of a warm spring or summer day.

I’ve kept the sauce for this on the not-so-sweet side because I’m not a huge fan of a super sugary BBQ. I’d rather save that sweetness for dessert. However, if BBQ’s your summer sweetheart, simply add an extra spoonful of honey to the mix. The spiciness and color from the Sriracha lends itself well to a nutty, black rice. However, feel free to put this on bread, lather it with slaw, and call it a meal. A good one at that.

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Artichokes with Creamy Vegan Dipping Sauce

I caught the tail end of artichoke season and finally succumbed to buying one of the steeply priced suckers.  I guess the flight from California orients the price tag, sending it a little out of my range. But the taste of an artichoke definitely proves worthy of a splurge, at least for one occasion during the season.

A simple steam and lemon oil/butter is really all you need to savor the delightful flavor of an artichoke.  Easy.

The steam part is definitely an essential. Unless you’re trying to get down with a tough, pointy thistle, artichokes need more than a little steamy lovin’ to loosen up their juicy goodness.  What you decide to pair the leaves with is when you can get creative.  As I just mentioned, a lemony oil/butter sauce is always a no-fail solution.  But there are tons of other easy-to-prepare sauces that go well with their unique flavor.

The one below was inspired by my roommate who is much more well-educated on how to use Mayonnaise than I am. She has showed me how well the ingredient can be used to create simple-to-make and addicting sauces.  Yeah, the whipped white stuff is gross when plain.  But add some spice, and voilà. I decided to create a vegan rendition of a curried mayo-sauce she once made, and paired it with the artichokes I bought.  Even Vegenaise isn’t the healthiest ingriedient, but when used sparingly to compliment a simply steamed, 60-calorie artichoke, it’s not looking too shabby.  A little oil certainly never hurt anyone.  (Ask yoga teacher Ana Forrest and she’ll tell you it’ll help keep you body loose.)

My roommate refused to tell me her recipe, but I believe my recreation turned out quite similarly, so now I can share it with the world (ahahaha).  The result makes me wish it wasn’t the end of artichoke season.  Although, I do believe the sauce would pair perfectly with asparagus…and broccoli…and all the other veggies on their way to my garden.
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Blood Orange and Kale Salad

As I grew up, an abundance of kale was always growing up too. Spring, summer, and fall, there were always at least two different kinds of kale growing out back in my family’s garden. That health jazz I feed you guys on my blog? Yeah, my parents love that stuff too, and they have a particular passion for greens, the superstars of the vegetable kingdom.

I’ve eaten kale countless ways, innumerable times, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. All that rabbit chomping has led me to love the leafy green too. (And thank the world for that because other I would have been one unhappy kid.) However, when raw kale salads first started sprouting into my horizon, I was stumped. Sure, I had consumed raw kale before, blended smoothly into a morning shake, but not once in my kale-packed years had the raw leafy green replaced lettuce in my salad bowl. Raw kale? “Gross,” I thought when I first heard of the idea. And gross is what I thought when I tasted my first kale salad too.

However, raw kale salads didn’t leave me alone after my first sampling experience. I started noticing them everywhere, popping up on numerous blogs, Whole Foods salad bars, and restaurant menus. Having been a kale consumer since age, let’s say, three, I felt like I couldn’t give up on the new trend.  So I kept testing out and grimacing at more and more versions of the raw green, until finally, yes finally, I found a few salads that were delicious. I also discovered the make or break for turning raw kale into a lettuce-like ingredient.

For kale salads, it’s all about the dressing. You need a dressing that’s going to mask the grassy-like flavor of the green in its uncooked form. It doesn’t have to be elaborate (for instance, I stick with olive oil, balsamic, and a few shallots), but it does have to be an ample amount to coat the entire surface of the leaves. After that, you’ll discover that raw kale really does lend itself to a nice palatable crunch. Below, I add a few blood oranges, one of my favorite winter treats, for a sweetness that pleasantly compliments the earthiness of the kale and acidity of the balsamic.

What are your thoughts on raw kale? Are you a fan of kale salads or are monster green smoothies as far as you’ll take the

Blood Orange and Kale Salad

(Makes 2 large salads or 3-4 side salads)

-1/2 large bunch kale, stems removed, sliced into ribbons (about 5 cups)
-1 blood orange, peeled, segments sliced into thirds
-1 shallot, minced
-2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
-1/2 tsp. sriracha
-1/2 tsp. salt

Toss kale and blood oranges in a large bowl. Whisk sriracha, salt, and vinegar until combined.

Place oil in a skillet over high heat. Add shallots and saute until transluscent, 2-3 minutes.

Quickly whisk oil into vinegar mixture, and pour over kale. Toss until thoroughly combined. Serve.