Peas and Compassion

Cruelty-free crunchiness and shameless veg-elation.


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VeganMofo Day 28: Rainbow Jambalaya

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You’ve probably heard the health advice to “eat a rainbow” – it’s sage advice to fill your plate with lots of plant foods, where vibrant colors are often an indicator of the nutrients hiding inside. Tonight’s supper, a plant-packed jambalaya, looked so gorgeous in the pan and is full of so many awesome nutrient-packed veggies that I nicknamed it Rainbow Jambalaya. While it does require a bit of chopping, it also pulls on the prep-friendly tastiness of vegan kielbasa, which you can buy in packs; or if you’re really adventurous and you just want to kick ass in the kitchen, then you can make your own. I personally went for the time-saver, and used good old reliable Tofurky kielbasa:

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Tofurky: Savior of vegans everywhere.

The recipe also calls for cooked brown rice and cooked lentils – I made the rice in advance tonight while I went out for a run, and the lentils I’d prepped earlier in the week for Creamy Seitan-Lentil Pasta. I’m trying to make it a habit to pre-cook grains and beans on the weekends or the night before, so that I’ll have a steady supply on hand during the week.

As for veggies, this one’s packed with onions, celery, red bell pepper, scallions, white button mushrooms, jalopeno, and fresh tomatoes. I’m sure there are others you could throw in for an even more robust meal. This is a good way to clean out your bins. The results are quite pretty:

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In hindsight, I might have added a bit of additional Cajun seasoning, but this was pretty darn good – the kielbasa, mushrooms, and lentils really gave the dish a strong umami vibe. Feel free to play around with the seasonings a bit to get it spicier, as you like (this is a child-friendly version).

Rainbow Jambalaya

Serves: 5-6 Prep time: ~30 minutes (assumes rice and lentils are pre-cooked)
Accessibility Notes: A fair amount of chopping here, but everything’s confined to one pan. You’ll need a large skillet and a good knife (and maybe a glass of white wine to help you pass the time).

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 tsps olive oil
  • 2 Tofurky kielbasa links, diced into rounds
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz white button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • ~ 1/2 cup scallions, chopped (green parts)
  • 1 good-sized jalopeno, diced (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup cooked green/brown lentils
  • ~ 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat skillet over medium heat or flame; add 2 tsp of oil to the hot skillet and follow-up with the kielbasa rounds. Cook, 3-4 minutes, tossing the rounds to ensure that the kielbasa cooks on each side. Try not to nearly burn them, as I did.

2. When the kielbasa is finished, transfer to a small bowl or plate. In the same skillet, add the onions, celery, and red pepper to the remaining pan and cook 3-4 minutes, until softened.

3. Next add the mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions, jalopeno, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. Stir well to distribute the seasoning, and let cook ~5 minutes until the mushrooms are juicy.

4. Add in the lentils and cooked kielbasa, stirring and allowing to cook about 3 minutes, until the lentils and sausage are heated through. Add the cooked rice and stir well, making sure everything is coated.

5. Add the parsley, stirring to just mix through, then season everything with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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VeganMofo Day 26: Pumpkin Apple Muffins

These are not the prettiest muffins I have ever made. In fact, they’re not even close. However, they are perhaps some of the tastiest.

I was searching around for a fall muffin recipe and came across this gorgeous recipe for pumpkin muffins over at Connoisseurus Veg. However, I wanted something a little richer, so I basically futzed with the recipe a bit – the version below is simply a variation. Along with the pumpkin and spices, I pulled in bits of dried apples and raisins, which for me are evocative of all the flavors of fall. I also included blackstrap molasses, which adds iron and makes for a rich, moist, and dark muffin.

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These are so moist and tasty on their own, they will make a lovely breakfast without any additions. However, in keeping with the original recipe, I decided to add a little frosting – except I pulled together a creamy pumpkin frosting for drizzling (the addition of pumpkin giving it a vibrant orange hue).

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The best part of this recipe is that these muffins come together quickly and easily – almost as quick as they disappear! I had everything baked and coated in less than 45 minutes; the only downside was the clean-up.

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Makes: 12 muffins. Prep Time: ~20 minutes + 18-20 minutes cook time.
Accessibility notes: Requires stirring, mixing, and a little chopping, but is super-easy!

Ingredients:

Muffins:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apples

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked (I quick-soaked mine by boiling for 2 minutes, then letting sit for 20 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened soymilk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with a little Earth Balance or coconut oil.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder and baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the canned pumpkin, soy milk, blackstrap molasses, canola oil, and vanilla.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry, then fold in the raisins and dried apple.

5. Pour into muffin tins, about 3 tbsps of batter per tin. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the frosting:

Drain the cashews and add to blender with lemon juice, vanilla, powdered sugar, and pumpkin. Blend until smooth, then add soymilk as needed to thin. Pour over muffins to serve.


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VeganMofo Day 24: Creamy Seitan-Lentil Pasta

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It has been a rainy, cool, blah day here – the sort of weather that leaves you only wanting to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good book – for me, that book is currently Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals by Karen Dawn. This has been such an important, thought-provoking, and yet emotional read for me. Karen Dawn takes an honest look at everything from factory farming to fashion to vivisection, examining the ins and outs of our use and abuse of animals. Thankfully, the book manages a lighter tone and is full of photos, comics, and inspirational quotes that balance out the heavy topics. Although I am sometimes brought to tears by the information, I think it’s a worthwhile and necessary read.

Anyway, on to the food — with the cold and wet weather, I was craving something warm and creamy. I had some leftover seitan in the fridge, so I decided on this soul-soothing dish that combines lentils, seitan, tomatoes, and spinach in a hearty sauce that pairs well with whatever pasta you have on hand (I used brown rice spiral pasta). The dish is topped with a garnish of fresh diced tomatoes and parsley, which adds a colorful splash to an otherwise dreary day.

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This recipe took a little extra time – I could have saved myself some trouble by cooking my lentils in advance, as well as soaking the cashews for the cream earlier in the day. However, I forgot to do any of that – thankfully, I’ve found that coming home and boiling my cashews briefly, followed with a “quick soak” in the boiling liquid, tends to soften them enough that they blend up easily. The lentils cooked simultaneously with the soaking cashews, which allowed me to pull the remainder of the ingredients together and dice the veggies while I waited.

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Though its a bit of work, the end result is a tender, savory pasta – bits of chewy seitan and lentils give the impression of a “meaty” texture, and the tomato-based cream sauce is pure comfort food. This dish was a huge hit with the entire crowd, with several returning to the pot for second servings.

Creamy Seitan-Lentil Pasta

Serves: 6-8. Prep time: 45 minutes.
Accessibility Notes: Requires a standard blender or food processor, managing of multiple hot pots, and minor chopping.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • ~1 cup finely shredded seitan (I chopped up about 1/2 pack of WestSoy Seitan Strips)
  • 12 oz. brown rice spiral pasta
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 28-oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Diced fresh tomato, for garnish
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:

1. In a medium pot, combine the lentils and 1 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender. Remove from heat and set aside. If you haven’t soaked your cashews in advance, this is a good time to do a quick soak – add the cashews to a small pot, with enough water to cover. Bring to a full boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit while the lentils cook.

2. In a separate large pot, heat 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the shredded seitan. Keeping the heat high, stir the seitan frequently to just brown it, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, transferring to another plate, and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the brown rice pasta and cook for 13-14 minutes (or per package directions), until pasta is tender. (When the pasta is finished, be sure to run it under cool water to stop the cooking process.)

3. Back to the large pot! Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of oil. Sauté the onion over medium heat until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir everything together quickly, about a minute. Next add the thyme, salt, black pepper, and lentils, mixing well. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer, letting everything cook for 4-5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, drain the soaked cashews and add them to a blender or food processor with the vegetable broth. Blend everything together until you have a smooth sauce. This may take anywhere from 1-4 minutes; I have an inexpensive blender and I let it run about 2 minutes, which gives a lovely, smooth sauce.  Pour the blended cashew cream into the tomato mixture and stir until well-incorporated. Also add the cooked seitan to begin heating through.

6. Next chiffonade the spinach – roll it into a loose pile and using your knife, cut everything into long, thin strips. Add the spinach to the tomato mixture and let it cook about 2 minutes, until wilted.

7. Stir in the cooked pasta spirals and mix until everything is well-incorporated. You may want to let this cook 2-3 minutes longer until everything thickens nicely. When ready, scoop into bowls and garnished with the tomatoes and parsley. Enjoy!

 


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Inside Out Peanut Butter Smores

I keep thinking I should post something healthy. But I seem to have lost all of my willpower. You see, I recently discovered the magical fluffy puffed joy of Dandies Vegan Marshmallows, which are pretty freakin’ awesome. They make me want to prance and dance and frolic around like a unicorn beneath a rainbow, because they take me back not just to my pre-gan days, but to my childhood. These are the perfect marshmallow – soft and airy and melting on the tongue – but without the gelatin present in conventional marshmallows. [Gelatin, of course, is extracted from the collagen in the skin, bones, and connective tissues of various animals (usually cows), which is why I avoid it.]

But let’s put that imagery aside. Instead, back to the marshmallows —

I’m reminded of my first real snowfall, a doozy of a storm that occurred when I was about 8 years old, at some point in the late 1980s. We lived in the south, which meant that we had no idea what real snow looked like or how best to manage in it. This particular storm only brought about 2 feet of snow, but we quickly found ourselves without power and without a stove – a scenario that would extend for 10 days. Our water pump also ran on electricity, so we began living colonial-style, hauling buckets of snow inside to melt by the fireplace in order to boil them for us. Soon we were cooking all our meals over candle flame – (remember those potpourri holders with tealight candles? They work perfectly for holding ceramic bowls of oatmeal or  tomato soup). It was both exciting and boring all at once.

One of the few joys of that cold period was the making of s’mores. It involved skewering marshmallows over an open flame, and using a chocolate bar to remove the marshmallow from its stake (I suppose we were out of graham crackers, and with the roads blocked with snow, we couldn’t run out to get any). This was a magnificent and wonderful mess of melted chocolate and scalded fingers – which was fine, because it was only about 45 degrees in the house and at least scalded fingers were warm fingers.

Now back to the present — tonight is warm, and we have plenty of power and fresh water, as well as graham crackers and peanut butter. But in order to relive that fun period, we’ve made some inside out peanut butter smores.

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These are the essentials.

Although I realize microwaves are the Devil, I find them infinitely more finger-friendly than open flames and so used mine to melt the marshmallows and peanut butter on the crackers. The chocolate was melted down with a bit of coconut oil and almond milk, then poured over the top in a messy pile. (No one ever said “inside out” was pretty.)

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The result is a pretty darn amazing – it’s a gooey, runny, peanut-butter-chocolate-mallow heaven. Yes, I know – it’s not a “real” recipe. I don’t care that’s it not fancy – after all, I have a vegan s’more and you don’t.

Though to be honest, if you came over… I would share.

Inside Out Peanut Butter Smores

Serves: 6. Prep time: 5 minutes.
Accessibility notes: Requires the use of a double boiler or at least a sense of comfort handling a second pot over steaming/boiling water. Other than that, it’s standard s’more making!

Ingredients:

  • 12 graham cracker squares
  • 6 Dandies
  • ~3 tbsp fresh grind peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet non-dairy chips
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp almond milk

Directions:

1. You may use either a double-boiler, if one is handy, or fill a medium pot of water with about 1 1/2″ of water and bring  to a boil. Once the water is rolling nicely, in a second, smaller pot, add the coconut oil, chocolate chips, and almond milk. Place the smaller pot inside the first and let the chips melt, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding.

2. Meanwhile, spread ~1/2 tbsp of peanut butter or less on one side of each of the 12 graham crackers. Add Dandies to six of the coated crackers and affix the remaining 6 crackers on top to make “sandwiches”, using the peanut butter as your glue. Pop these in the microwave on a microwave-safe plate for about 15 seconds, watching carefully – the Dandies and peanut butter will just melt into an ooey, gooey mess. Mash the tops of each “sandwich” down slightly to help everything blend.

3. Once the chocolate is completely melted down and the almond milk well-mixed, pour the topping over each cracker generously. If you want to get fancy, use a pair of tongs and try dipping the sandwiches, or use a knife to spread the topping around – I personally was only considering how fast I could get them into my mouth.

4. Try to restrain yourself from licking up all the extra, but don’t judge yourself harshly if you can’t. Let everything cool for 2-3 minutes and then share with everyone, or better yet, hide them all in a bowl and curl up quietly in a corner, trying not to smack your lips as you lick your fingers clean.


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VeganMoFo Day 19: Cashew Alfredo & Noodle Medley

400x84_g2Tonight’s dinner features a cashew-based creamy alfredo sauce paired with a mix of zucchini and whole wheat noodles and lightly cooked veggies. As a bonus, it’s easy enough to pull together in about 20 minutes.

100_4196I had the idea to pull together a cashew alfredo after stumbling across an alfredo recipe in Mistress Ginger Cooks and this awesome post from Sprouts and Chocolate with 10 different cashew cream recipes. Personally, cashew cream completely changed my vegan life and made everything 1000% more awesome. Here it becomes a lovely garlicky sauce that can practically be eaten off the spoon. (But if you save it for your pasta, your family will thank you.)

Cashew Alfredo & Noodle Medley

Serves: 6 Prep time: ~20 minutes.
Accessibility notes: Requires chopping; you will need a spiralizer and/or good julienne tool, as well as a blender or food processor. You’ll need to manage at least two pots and be able to lift a large pot of boiling water to drain.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. whole wheat fettucine noodles
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and chopped into half moons
  • 1/4 cup whole cashews
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance or other non-dairy butter
  • 3-4 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder (may sub cornstarch)

Directions:

1. First, place the cashews in a small bowl with enough hot water to cover. Let soak about 15 minutes.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, use a spiralizer or julienne tool to cut the zucchini into wide noodles, and set aside. Now is a good time to chop the broccoli and carrots; set these aside when complete.

3. Once the water is boiling, add the whole wheat noodles and set a timer for ~9 minutes. About three minutes before the end of the cooking time, throw in the zucchini noodles, broccoli, and carrots.

4. As the noodles cook, drain the cashews of water, then blend them with the soymilk, dijon, salt, and pepper. This may take a few minutes to get the sauce completely smooth.

5. Meanwhile, melt the 2 tbsp of Earth Balance in a small pot over medium heat. Add in the minced garlic and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the cashew mixture from the blender, stirring well. Whisk in the arrowroot powder with a fork, letting the mixture thicken for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

6. When noodles are al dente and veggies are just tender, drain everything and return the noodles to the pan. Pour the thickened cashew alfredo sauce over everything, stirring well to coat.

7. Enjoy!


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VeganMoFo Day 16: Maple Chocolate Oat (No-Bake!) Cookies

Back in the days of single parenting three young children, I had an old-fashioned recipe for simple no-bake cookies that relied on little more than safflower margarine, sugar, milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter, and oats. As I remember, the recipe was a bit dry, but it was a quick chocolate fix, and an easy kid pleaser. I haven’t made that recipe in ages and had a craving for something chocolatey, so I decided to recreate it — except this time I wanted to switch out the sugar, and use something a little healthier than margarine to help keep things together.

Maple syrup has become one of my favorite sweeteners, not only because of its delicious flavor but also because (unlike sugar) it is also a source calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc. I split it with a bit of agave nectar, which is a thicker, stickier sweetener that performs better at binding. I’ve also added raw coconut butter in lieu of margarine, as well a bit of vanilla. The result is a soft, chewy, chocolatey cookie with a subtle maple flavor.

100_4064_v2Maple Chocolate Oat No Bake Cookies

Serves: 5 (~15 cookies). Prep time: 5-8 minutes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup raw coconut butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh-grind peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp cocoa power
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the maple syrup, agave, coconut butter, peanut butter, and cocoa powder over medium flame/heat until coconut butter and peanut butter soften. Stir until the mixture is well-combined and just bubbling.

2. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract, then stir in the oats, 1/2 cup at a time, until everything is coated.

3. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper. Drop in small tablespoons on the wax paper, rounding carefully with your fingertips. These will solidify on their own fairly quickly, but I suggest popping them in the fridge or freezer and keeping them there until you’re ready to enjoy.

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Dark Cherry Chocolate Almond Smoothie

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Most days I throw together a green smoothie in the morning, but sometimes I can get a bit indulgent. A few months ago I tried a blend of frozen sweet dark cherries and cocoa, and I’ve been on a mission to perfect it ever since. The current incarnation pulls together cherry, almond, and chocolate flavors, so it’s a bit like drinking a cherry cordial.

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Of course, there’s a dose of healthy kale hidden in here, but you’d never know it from the taste.

Dark Cherry Chocolate Almond Smoothie

Serves: 1 Prep time: <5 minutes.
Accessibility Notes: No chopping here! You’ll need a blender; if you don’t have a fancy high-speed blender, consider soaking your date(s) in hot water for about 15 minutes prior. This isn’t a necessary step but it may make the blending a bit easier.

Ingredients:

  •  1 cup almond milk
  •  1 cup frozen sweet dark cherries
  •  1 frozen banana (peel the banana the night before, break it into chunks, and throw it in a baggie in the freezer)
  •  1 1/2 cups loosely packed chopped kale
  •  1-2 dates, pitted
  •  1 tbsp + 2 tsp cocoa powder
  •  1/8 – 1/4 tsp almond extract
  •  sliced almonds, raw cocao nibs, and dried cherries, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. Combine the almond milk, cherries, banana, and kale in a blender and blend until smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

2. Add the date(s), cocoa powder, and almond extract and blend another minute until the date(s) are decimated. (I suggest starting with 1/8 tsp almond extract and then adding more as desired.)

3. Add garnishes as desired and enjoy!

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