Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pancakes & Cheezy Rainbow Saute!

     Perhaps being called off from my externship today was a blessing as I was able to experience a fantastic kettlebell workout & a delightful brunch this morning! Pancakes and veggies always make me smile! :-)

Pumpkin-Buckwheat Pancakes & Cheezy Rainbow Saute
     These pancakes are fantastic and are dairy, soy, & gluten free. Check out the link above and make some for your next breakfast...or lunch, or dinner! They are delicious with chopped nuts, dried fruit, or a few non-dairy chocolate chips sprinkled in...these are topped with some of my homemade granola. I love the website where I learned about this recipe too - it has some AMAZING recipes - very inspiring!!

     If you have leftover batter, it stores beautifully! Simply store your unused batter in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days and take out when you have the craving for hot pancakes. Voila! Fresh, hot pancakes in a snap (minus the preservatives & additives)! The recipe makes a good amount, so you will most likely have leftovers, unless you're feeding the whole fam!

     Now for my Cheezy Rainbow Saute - typically, I don't use vegan cheese substitutes as it is a processed food, but I had purchased some last week to play with a few recipes. I chose to use daiya, which is pretty tasty - but only for special occasions! This saute is so full of colorful veggies it can only make you smile!!

Cheezy Rainbow Saute
*serves 2*

1/3 cup onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, cut in rounds on the bias
1/2 cup rutabaga, cut in small matchsticks
1/4 cup daikon radish, cut in small matchsticks
4 leaves of kale, chopped thinly
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Pinch of Sea Salt
Sprinkle of Sweet Smoked Paprika

In a medium-size pan over medium heat, heat the coconut oil and add the onion and garlic. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Saute for 2 minutes then add red cabbage. Saute for 2 more minutes and add carrots and rutabaga. Cover with a lid to steam vegetables for 3 minutes. Remove lid and add daikon and kale. Stir together and sprinkle in the cheddar. Saute for 1-2 more minutes to melt the cheddar. Remove from heat and sprinkle with sweet smoked paprika for an extra little kick!

 Enjoy alongside pancakes, a vegetable panini, or a bowl of soup! well...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Go Bananas for Banana Bread!

     You must try this turns out so incredibly yummy!

Your Delicious Ingredients to Make Your Delicious Banana Bread:

2 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup safflower
2/3 cup agave nectar
2/3 cup rice milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas

Directions to Make Your Delicious Banana Bread:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 mini-sized loaf pans (each pan containing 6 mini loaves - 3x2x1 inch).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Add the oil, agave nectar, rice milk, and vanilla to the dry ingredients. Stir until smooth. Fold in the mashed bananas until mixed throughout.

Fill each loaf 2/3 of the way full. Bake on the center rack for 18 minutes. Flip the pans 180 degrees half-way through the cooking time. Insert a toothpick to ensure bread is cooked through.

Let the bread stand about 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Consume each bite with joy!

Cool before storing. Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

*Recipe adapted from babycakes- Erin McKenna...*

Monday, July 18, 2011

Beware of the Beans!

     People tend to steer clear from beans as they have a bad rap for causing a few side effects... we'll leave those unmentioned! However, beans can be a vegetarian, vegan, and non-vegetarian's best friend as long as they are soaked and cooked properly to avoid those disturbing side effects.
     When using the proper methods to create a side dish or a main dish with beans, you will surely be left feeling pleasantly satisfied! Canned beans are not cooked using these methods, therefore all of the gases remain in the beans. I encourage you to start from scratch and enjoy the process of making your beans at home!
Green Split Peas
The smaller the bean, the easier it is to digest.

         Beautiful beans:
  • High in protein, iron, and fiber.
  • No cholesterol, trace amount of fat.
  • Contains soluble and insoluble fiber & provides bio-available calcium.
  • Oligosaccharides are the complex carbohydrates in the beans that are difficult for digestive enzymes to break up - the bacteria in the gut is the cause of the gas as it tries to digest the oligosaccharides. Gas can be released before consumption by following the steps below. 
Beans 101
  • Sort & Wash - remove stones or dried out beans.
  • Rinse beans 3-4 times, scrubbing the outer skins.
  • Soak beans in filtered water for 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Discard soaking water and fill pot with enough water to cover the beans by one inch for cooking.
  • Improve the digestibility of your beans by adding Epazote, a bay leaf, Kombu, Ginger, Turmeric, or Fennel, during the cooking process.
  • Cook the beans uncovered for 15-20 minutes - skim off all the foam. Cover for remaining cooking time.
  • Add cold water to the beans as they soak up water (this also enhances the flavor of the beans).
  • Cook beans with root/round vegetables, season well, and add spicy falvors (garlic, black pepper) to further improve the digestibility.
  • Chew well!
     This may seem like it's a long, drawn out process, but it really isn't! Once you get the hang of it, cooking beans will become second nature to you. You'll never want to buy a can of beans again!

     Let's start simple with some good ol' fashioned refried beans (minus the lard):

Refried Pinto Beans
1 cup pinto beans, soaked
2 tsp dried or fresh epazote
2-3 Tbsp oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves garlic
Variations: cilantro, chilies, cumin, shoyu, scallions
Put beans in a pot, cover with water and boil for 10 minutes. Remove any foam, and then add epazote or bay leaf. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered; until they’re partially tender (30-45 minutes). After about 40 minutes, add 1 tsp salt, and then continue cooking until they’re soft. Drain reserving the broth.
Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-heat - Add onion and cook until nicely browned – 8-10 minutes. Add garlic during the last few minutes. Add the beans, onion/garlic mixture, and broth as needed to a food processor and blend until desired consistency has been reached. Return to skillet to remain warm. Taste for salt.
Delicious when served with homemade corn tortillas and guacamole!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Moments in Nature

     I count it a considerable blessing when I rise out of bed in the morning and have the ability to move! Movement is a key aspect in maintaining and regaining proper health ("move well, move often"). :)

     One way I like to celebrate my ability to move is by exploring the wonderful little hiking trails located throughout my neighborhood. I started out this week by enjoying a morning hike...these are the moments I captured...

Even a straggly looking tree can be beautiful in the right lighting...

I love cactus...perhaps because it reminds me
of the movie "The Three Amigos" :)

The kid in me...ah, the joy in climbing trees.
     When was the last time you put on your tennis shoes and went out to explore and enjoy the essence of nature? Why not take a stroll, climb a tree (with caution, please!), sing a song on your walk or just listen to the birds chirp their morning tune? Now if this all sounds a little "goofy" to you, then you may be one who could benefit most from it! Most individuals are very stressed and need to have an outlet. Fresh air, sunshine, and "extra" steps are fantastic stress relievers.

     I encourage you to take a few moments out of your week to celebrate your ability to move...simply go on a walk in the park or around the neighborhood, or just walk out to the mailbox to get a little kiss from the sunshine. Your body will thank you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Cooking with Kate - Indian Style!

     What a delightful day - ah, it was simply perfect! It started out by sleeping in (something I don't do very often - my body must have needed it), followed by a "Kung Fu Staff" session out in the backyard with Andrea (my sweet roommate). Check out the video - this is what she took me through...although, I looked a little goofy compared to this Kung Fu professional. It was quite amusing!

     This afternoon we enjoyed a refreshing Iced Chai Latte with Almond Mylk...this started the giggling process, which continued throughout our evening as we cooked up a storm in the kitchen. Andrea had been wanting to learn a few specific dishes, so I happily planned a cooking lesson with Indian Cuisine as our focus. I truly enjoyed being the "teacher"... and what a perfect student she was! From menu planning, to knife skills, to flavor pairings, we created a beautiful meal together.

     Our Indian Cuisine Menu:

Coconut Flavored Dal
         Curried Potato & Pea Samosas
         Apple & Raisin Chutney
         And guacamole...yes, not quite Indian, we know...

Practicing her knife skills! the process of making
Curried Potato & Pea Samosas...

After our 3.5-hour cooking lesson, we finally sat down
and enjoyed each bite! Our positive energy
definitely influenced the delicious outcome.

     What type of ethnic cuisines do you enjoy? I encourage you to step out of your cooking comfort zone and try out some different cuisines (i.e. indian, mexican, mediterranean, etc.)'ll be glad you did! And why not start by making this very simple Coconut Flavored Dal recipe...

...if you're an individual who is wary of the coconut because of the fat content, please read about the benefits of this beautiful fruit we call the coconut...

Coconut Flavored Dal
1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
½ can lite coconut milk
1 tsp coconut oil
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric

Rinse the red lentils in three changes of water.
Add the water and lentils to a soup pot and bring to a boil. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface (improves digestibility of the beans). Once foam is skimmed off, cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.
When the lentils are almost cooked (they will look like they are falling apart and becoming soft), add the salt and coconut milk. Let simmer on low heat.
Heat the coconut oil over low heat. Sauté the cumin and turmeric for about 45 seconds and add it to the lentils and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Serve warm. Pairs wonderfully when served with basmati rice...
but it also stands perfectly on its own.

Bhog keejeeae!
(means "enjoy" in Hindi)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Green Thumb...sort of...

     The past several weeks have included a great effort to complete all of my volunteer and externship hours for my culinary program. I have quite a few hours to put in so I choose to make every week, day, and hour count. I consider myself blessed to have a delightful nursery just around the corner from my house (only a 5-minute bike ride away) where I can put in gardening volunteer hours.

     It's About Thyme garden center has been so wonderful to me as they have allowed me to come whenever I am available to help water, transplant, and trim the plants. Yes, it is extremely hot, especially as I have to wear a long sleeve shirt to protect my skin from the 100 degree sunshine and jeans to avoid being eaten alive by the mosquitos!! However, despite the heat and mosquitos, the employees are so nice and the owner is always enthusiastic to teach me about the plants - I love it!

     Perhaps one day I will start my own'll see. Once I have my own little backyard where I can actually do this would be the first step!

Ah, the greenhouse - so full of life & beauty!

Transplanted some Rosemary - smelled absolutely wonderful!
     There is a special satisfaction and joy in volunteering. I've never done so much volunteering in my days as I have during my time here in Austin. I'm very thankful to have the time to have such experiences. I hope to continue assisting local businesses and organizations even after my hours are completed.

     May sincere giving never go out of can you support your community?

Friday, July 8, 2011

(Totally GF) Brownie Bites

     I'm loving my new babycakes cookbook by Erin McKenna. This is my third recipe to try and it turned out fantastic! I made a few slight adjustments, but it worked out in my favor - so tasty! My friends had the need to treat their sweet tooth, so I whipped up a batch of these little gems - entirely gluten-free. If you were to purchase these from the babycakes bakery, it would be $16/dozen...wowza! Perhaps I should price mine out, but I'm sure it wouldn't be quite that expensive. Although I'm sure it's worth it considering their labor of love. :-)

next time I'd like to top with sprinkles or vegan peanut butter cups!

Ingredients to make your Gluten-Free, Lucious, & Chocolatey Brownie Bites:

Yield: about 30 brownie bites

3/4 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
2 Tbsp arrowroot
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, homemade or store-bought
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water
Kate's Chocolate Sauce (recipe below)...that's me ;-)

Kate's Chocolate Sauce:
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp water
1/2 Tbsp rice milk
1/2 tsp coconut oil, melted

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare three 12-cup mini muffin tins by spraying with baking spray or lightly brushing with coconut oil.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, arrowroot, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the coconut oil, agave nectar, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water to the dry ingredients. Quickly stir until the batter is smooth.
3. With a tablespoon, scoop the batter into the mini-muffin cups. Bake the brownie bites on the center rack for 10 minutes. Rotating the tins after 5 minutes. Use a toothpick to ensure the brownies are cooked through.
4. After removing the brownies from the oven (leaving them in the tins), use your thumb to make a depression in the top of each brownie bite. Let the brownies stand for at least 10 minutes.
5. While the brownies are resting, make the chocolate sauce. Simply whisk together the agave nectar, unsweetened cocoa powder, water, rice milk, and coconut oil. Place in refrigerator to let set for about 10-15 minutes (it won't completely solidify, so don't worry if it is still a bit liquidy).
6. Ladle about 1/2 tsp of chocolate sauce into each depression of the brownies. Leave the brownies in the muffin tins until ready to serve to maximize freshness. Cover with plastic wrap. Store for up to 3 days at room temperature.
7. Be thankful you can make and enjoy these at home while staying within budget!

     Now remember, even though these are bite-size, don't go overboard. ;-) Although vegan & gluten-free, they are still a treat! :-) Enjoy thoroughly. Hugs to you all - thanks for reading!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th!

     Happy 4th of July! I've always looked forward to this holiday as it brings precious memories to gatherings, Pop's homemade ice cream, and playing in the pool with the cousins and all the little kiddos. This year, I'm so thankful to have spent a pleasant evening with a few friends to share a delightful meal. Our meal was simple, as well as very nutritious, flavorful, & colorful!

...grilled vegetable kabobs, homemade flat bread,
baba ghanoush, millet bean patties,
and some of the best watermelon & pineapple of the season...

...there's something about grilling that is so satisfying...

...i appreciate these two ladies so much...
     The only thing missing from our day was the fireworks show! Because Texas is in such a drought, many towns were banned from having fireworks. :-( Ah well... there's always next year! Bring on the rain.

     May you be blessed this week...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Baba Ghanoush

    My roommate's dad blessed me with two beautiful eggplants grown in his very own garden. For some reason, baba ghanoush was the first dish that popped into my mind. Perhaps, I had my Pop, a World War II Veteran, in the back of my mind, as this is a Lebanese dish and he & my Nana lived there for a time. On that note, thank you Pop and all who served and are serving our nation...God bless America.

Simply beautiful...Thank you, Mr. Cortez!
Baba Ghanoush...traditionally served with warm flatbread or crackers...

Your Ingredient Needs:

2 small or 1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise, roasted
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Pinch of Sea Salt
Few dashes of Black Pepper
2 cloves of unpeeled garlic, roasted with eggplant
2 heaping Tbsp sesame tahini
Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 Tbsp
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely minced
Olive oil for garnish, drizzled

Directions for making your baba ghanoush:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the eggplant(s) in half lengthwise and brush lightly with olive oil, pinch of salt, and dash of black pepper. Place eggplant cut side down on a baking sheet. Use a fork to poke several holes in the skin of the eggplant. Roast until very tender, about 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of roasting, place garlic cloves (unpeeled) on the baking sheet. Once eggplant is tender, let cool, then scoop out the eggplant pulp and place into food processor or blender with peeled garlic cloves.
2. Pulse together the roasted eggplant pulp, roasted garlic, sesame tahini, lemon juice, cumin, sea salt, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Pulsing will allow for a chunky texture, while blending will produce a smooth texture. It's up to you how you like it! Taste for additional seasoning.
3. Place in a decorative bowl and gently fold in fresh parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with warm pita bread or grilled vegetables.

     I plan on enjoying this with freshly grilled flat bread & vegetable kabobs for July 4th! Enjoy!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Final Culinary Event!

     I can't believe it! My culinary program has already come to an end. Definitely bitter-sweet. I still have externship and assisting hours to complete, but the days of going to school everyday where I created wonderful food with my friends are over. :(  However, a reunion has already been set - we still have many fun times ahead and memories to make together!
     The final culinary event was put on by all of the students with the assistance of the fantastic Natural Epicurean staff. We worked together to cater our open-house/ graduation which showcased all of the amazing talent within the class. Each dish was made with positive energy and excellence. It was absolutely beautifully executed. We had 5 days to plan, prep, cook, and set-up for the event (serving 75 guests) that took place last about team work! I'm very thankful to have had the opportunity to work with these individuals. There is so much talent and potential - I'm excited to see where everyone lands!

     Hopefully this gives you a glimpse of our busy, yet joy-filled day...

The gorgeous bouquets I received from several very special people!
Thank you for making me feel so loved even from afar! :-)

My special chef friends at the event site
...after...all set up for our celebration!

Our lovely drink station!

John, Rachel, & Torri...always having fun in the kitchen!
Friends from the very first day... :-)

The creator of the delicious Broccoli, Red Pepper, & Hijiki Quiche
You're so sweet, you!

Nikki creating her delicious Cilantro & Date Chutney!

Danielisa & Raul - beautiful people with HUGE hearts...
...gracias para las lecciones de Espanol! :-)

Craig likes cake...actually, anyone who tastes cake made by Torri would LOVE cake!!

Alison & Rachel rolling
Watermelon Sushi with Mango Chipotle Caviar
(John's big hit!)

Sam brings sunshine to everyone's're amazing...
she has some sweet kitchen managing and sushi knife skills too!

Brian, our awesome bartender, serving
Kombucha Micheladas, Melon & Basil Spritzers,  & Kukicha Peach, Mint Tea 

The AMAZING Desserts made possible by Danielisa & Torri
*Layered Chocolate Cake with Cardamom Buttercream Frosting*
*Mini Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache & fresh berries* *Gluten Free Peach Tartlets*
*Coconut Mango Ice Cream Bites*

The spread...what an incredible menu...all vegan...
Rustic Grilled Flatbreads & Vegetable Kabobs with a variety of Dips & Chutneys
Watermelon Sushi & Sweet 'n' Sour Burdock Sushi
Vegan Ceviche & Crispy Plantains
Papaya & "Ricotta" Sandwich on Sprouted Sunflower Bread
Almond Cheese Zucchini Manicotti
Millet & Squash Patties with Salsa Verde
Strawberry & Basil Cream Cheese on a Raw Carrot Coconut Cracker
Broccoli, Red Pepper, & Hijiki Quiche

My delightful guests - Andrea & Matt

     Ah, what a blessed day...the food was sensational as are the hands who prepared it! Thank you again to all who had a part in making this event happen (special shout-outs to Rosa, Alex, Rachel, Shahnaz, Alicia, Marko, Tamera, Maya, and of course all of the good-looking people pictured below). I feel so blessed to have been a part of it all.

May we continue to grow as professionals in the unique field of
Plant-Based Cuisine!