And So It Shall Be Named: Mock Tuna Salad

19 Mar

As much as we might not like to admit it, having the right name means everything. There’s a world of difference between the image associated with a name like Olga or Bernice and the one that comes along with something like Angelina or Ryan Gosling (that man is EVERYWHERE!). Would you eat from a restaurant called “Pink Taco” or “Crabby Dick”? Who would admit to working for a company called “Fairtilizer”? Apparently nobody did because it seems they’ve since changed their name. The right name can make or break your career, enhance your life or doom your child to bullying and ridicule for the rest of all eternity. When it comes to names, we must choose wisely, people.

So when I came across the food blog, “Yeah, That ‘Vegan’ Shit” I thought, holy hell, this person has hit on name gold! Why didn’t I think of that?! Well, because I didn’t. Because I’m obsessed with ginger. Because my cutesy side generally outweighs my nerdy badass. And because I save my obscenities for talking about Dick Juice.

Unfortunately, it appears the blog is now defunct, but I came across it one day while craving something, anything, with tuna. I didn’t want to actually eat tuna, though. I’ve always loved tuna sandwiches. When I was a kid, my aunt and I would often trudge home for lunch and be fed tuna salad sandwiches with chicken noodle soup. My mom still makes the best tuna with hard-boiled eggs. On the rare occasions that I decide to get a sandwich, it’s usually tuna (or an Italian. I’m a sucker for sausage, but we won’t address that issue at the moment. tee hee). I love tuna salad, and my cravings led me to “Yeah, That ‘Vegan’ Shit” and mock tuna salad.

Okay, so I basically took this chick’s recipe and torpedoed it. My tuna salad looks nothing like tuna due to how dark and overwhelming my soy sauce is, but let me tell you. MAN. It is delicious! Scratch “delicious,” I overuse that word. It is scrumptious! Seriously. It is reminiscent of tuna, in that way that nothing fake can ever taste “just like ______”, except for maybe frog legs. They really DO taste just like chicken! You must remember, I’m from Flint, Michigan, and we eat everything sweet. Our rice, our grits and even our tuna salad. If you prefer a more salty version, just switch the coconut yogurt for plain soy yogurt and the sweet relish for dill or a chopped pickle. I threw my concoction on some bread (yes, I ate bread!) with sprouts and Power Greens from Trader Joe’s and chowed down! It saved me from devouring all the chocolate in the pantry. And I finished by saying, “Well, that was damn good!”

Open-Faced Sandwich

Next time, I would use a different soy sauce or leave it out all together so that it resembles tuna a little more, but really, I don’t care. The taste was on the money, it was nutritious and filling and packed with protein and yummy goodness. I can make lettuce wraps and tuna salads and tuna and crackers and my favorite, tuna and Lays potato chips!

Hmm, perhaps I should be concerned….

What I Used

1 15 oz can chick peas
1/2 cup coconut yogurt
1 stalk of celery
3 tbsp sweet relish
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp dulse flakes
1 tbsp aioli garlic mustard sauce (you can use plain dijon or whatever)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dill
1 tsp hemp powder (optional)

What I Did

First, I processed 3/4 of the chickpeas with the yogurt, dulse and soy sauce. Then I mashed the remaining 1/4 of chickpeas in a bowl and added the processed chickpeas along with the remainder of the ingredients. Throw all that on your base of choice and chow down!

Green Pea and Smoked Mushroom Pancakes

17 Mar Green Pea Pancakes

I can’t make pancakes to save my life. They come out burnt or too thick or undercooked. I’m what you might call a pancake disaster.

Ironically, then, for about a year and a half, maybe more, I would wake up with this insane desire for pancakes. I would just imagine all that syrupy sweetness and thick, fluffy goodness, and immediately decide, “I need pancakes today.” My partner would be a good sport (and a smart person) and would drive us to the nearest Good Egg for a giant plate of pancakes. I say he was being a good sport because he knew the deal. I never actually ordered pancakes when we got to the restaurant. I would end up with an omelet or a skillet or even a plate of corn beef hash if I had fallen onto the meaty train. Once I even had the nerve to order the giant cinnamon roll of death thing that they sell, but almost never did I actually order pancakes. He never made me feel like a crazy person or fussed at me. He ate the pancakes for me, letting me grab a forkful every now and then.

Our challenge item for this week was mushrooms. I’ll be honest, I don’t actually like mushrooms. Other than portobellos, they are too earthy for me. Which is odd as I’m always going on about inhaling the earth and earthy smelling flavors, but mushrooms are too much for even me. Maybe it’s because they cross over into the fungal earth category. Totally different taste. Anyway, mushrooms. Not my favorite thing to eat. What the hell should I make with mushrooms… I know, PANCAKES!

I’d come across this recipe which featured green pea pancakes.  Not only are her pictures gorgeous, but those pancakes looked like something I wanted in my mouth ASAP. I decided to make a vegan version of these puppies. I thought, why not try adding mushrooms to the mix and see what happens. So that’s exactly what I did. I added crimini mushrooms to my pancakes. Plated, I topped them with sliced beets, the smoked portobellos and a dollop of coconut yogurt. They were divine. Without all the fancy stuff on top, they weren’t kid-approved (I heard she made the most vicious face), but apparently, they were alright with guacamole. Only I ate the entire prepped dish. In my defense, the pancakes by themselves were tried out by folks who don’t typically eat like me. I will consider the fact that there was only one communicated dislike a success. This dish was delicious, and I can’t wait to experiment some more with these using a different blend of flours. They’ve got great potential, and with the weather getting warmer, I can see these going great mixed with many different green vegetables.

Let the pancake craving evolve and flourish!

What I Used

Portobello Mushroom Marinade

Mushroom Marinade

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic
2 tbsp soy sauce
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tarragon
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 portobello mushrooms

Pancakes

1/2 cup crimini mushrooms
4 oz frozen green peas
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
3 tbsp brown rice flour
1 tbsp chickpea flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp shredded coconut
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup nutritional yeast

What I Did

For the portobellos, I mixed the marinade ingredients and let them sit for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 and bake for 30 minutes once the marinating is finished.

For the pancakes, I followed the original directions pretty closely. I cooked the peas and then submerged them in water. Instead of pureeing half and mashing the other half, I pureed all of the peas with the coconut milk. In a separate bowl, I mixed together the remainder of the ingredients. Once this was mixed, I folded in the peas.

Portobellos

Portobellos Post Bake

Submerged Peas

Love the sight of green peas

Now comes the fun part. Cooking the madness. Which should’ve been the scary part, but it came out just fine. I heated up the skillet and instead of using olive oil, I used olive oil spray. I plopped a tablespoon of batter per pancake and let them cook on one side until the bottom had set and the edges started to brown. Waiting for pancakes to set, though not as maddening as stirring roux, is taxing on the patience.

Once these were done, I stacked some of them with beets, and some of them with the portobello mixture and a dollop of coconut yogurt. The portobello yogurt ones were my favorite.

Plain Pancakes

Pancakes sans topping

Pancakes with toppings

The pancakes with all the fixins!

Pancake Closeup

Another view

Beet-topped Pancake

Beet-topped pancake

Video

Gangsta Gardening

14 Mar

Gardening is the most therapeutic- and defiant- act you can do, especially in the inner city. Plus you get strawberries

Ron Finley

Plant some shit, people!

Do yourself a favor and watch Ron Finley’s Ted talk on gardening in the inner city.

 

Orange-Glazed Tempeh and Fighting Fires

12 Mar Orange-Glazed Tempeh

I know my thighs are the topic of discussion way more than they ought to be. For unemployed, inanimate objects, they sure get lots of attention. It’s because they’re always causing trouble. Like busting through my jeans. Or clamping onto necks. Or taking out innocent gym shorts.

Running Shorts

Not gym shorts!! NO!

I hate shorts. I really do. They’re not made for folks with aggressive thighs. My thighs see a pair of shorts and immediately go into attack mode, like a hungry piranha. My thighs gobbles those shorts up until they cry out for mercy! And frankly, it’s just embarrassing.

Today I forgot my running pants and had to wear these little itty bitty gym shorts. Not a pleasant run, I tell ya. Last time I had a run in with gym shorts, I ended up with chaffed thighs for two weeks. SERIOUS I tell you! Anyway, when I got home from my nylon showdown, I was super hungry, even though I’d already scarfed down two of these chocolate cherry muffins on the way home.

A couple of days ago, a coworker passed me a recipe from some cookbook for Orange-glazed tofu, but I wasn’t in the mood for tofu. So I made orange-glazed tempeh. I regret that I didn’t let it marinate. I regret even more that I put in so much crushed red pepper. Now my lips are burning along with my AG thighs. Perhaps it’s time for bed. Put out the fire between my legs and lips with a lovely dream about oceans and really, really cold milk.

Damn thighs.

What I Used
sauce
2/3 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

8 oz tempeh
1 tbsp olive oil
A whole mess of garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, slice
1 green pepper, sliced

Peppers and Onions

What I Did

I always steam my tempeh in the microwave before cooking with it. I find it gets rid of that bitter thing tempeh sometimes does in the mouth. It can be disturbing. 10 minutes in the microwave with water and saran wrap and it all goes away. After that, I sliced the block in half longwise, and then sliced the two pieces into 8 sections creating 16 “strips”. Set these aside.

Sliced Tempeh

 

Mix all the ingredients together for the sauce and set aside. Heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook until translucent and tender. Add the tempeh and fry for a bit. If I had been more ambitious, I would’ve friend the tempeh first, then set aside so that it was more browned, but ehhh. It turned out just fine. Add the sauce and cook 10-12 minutes.

Sauce/Marinade

I served it over leftover ride medley from Trader Joe’s. As I said, I should’ve marinated the tempeh first (I would say, a half hour post steaming), but it’s edible and tasty even without marinating. And most importantly, on this day, it was very, very quick.

Orange-Glazed Tempeh

 

Chocolate Cherry Avocado Muffins & Miss Piggy

10 Mar finished muffin

Miss Piggy

Gotta love Miss Piggy

When I was younger, I LOVED Miss Piggy! So sassy and fierce and always dressed like Tammy Faye Baker! She was amazing. And she could put those other muppets in their place in a nano second. Who’s decision was it to make her a pig, though? I mean, is there some hidden chauvinist agenda in making the most awesome character in the Muppets crew a PIG?

Anyway, I loved Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy loved Kermit. Kermit was green like an avocado. Avocado was this week’s challenge item. See how I did that? Wasn’t reaching at all.

I made muffins this week for the challenge. And I’ll be eating them, along with the delicious Gala apples I picked up from Trader Joes, for breakfast this week. They aren’t like these cupcakes, like kick your mama good, but they are solid, lightly sweet and definitely nutritious. And come on, who doesn’t love a muffin that’s got avocado in it?

A plethora of yummy, nutritious ingredients

A plethora of yummy, nutritious ingredients

What’s In Them

Ripe avocado

Ripe banana

coconut oil

light brown sugar

arrowroot powder

vanilla

almond milk

flour (garbanzo, brown rice and coconut flour)

oat bran

flaxseed

baking powder

baking soda

salt

cocoa powder

carob

sweet cherries

dried cranberries

shredded coconut

One of my favorite foods. This one was super ripe and ready to be eaten.

One of my favorite foods. This one was super ripe and ready to be eaten.

wet ingredients

Avocado, cherry and banana became a lovely fruit cream.

finished muffin

Chocolate Cherry Avocado Muffin

Chicken Noodle Soup is for Suckas!

7 Mar

20130307-083609.jpg

People love chicken noodle soup. Despite having made a vegan version the week I was sick, I’m not a big fan. My mom used to cook me chicken and noodles, which I loved, but it’s completely different from what most people conceive when they think of chicken noodle soup. Besides, I don’t eat chicken anymore, so even its connotation as a comfort food is lost on me.

What do I love when I’m sick (besides donuts)? Spice. Heat. Greens. I like to inhale the earth through my tongue when I’m sick. I think it makes me feel like I’ll get better that much faster!

What’s closer to the feeling of earthy goodness than collard greens, cabbage and spinach? Actually, spinach is always just about the dirtiest vegetable in the store, so just by adding that, I upped the earth factor by about 400%!

I didn’t have much energy when I created this soup, and as I said, I just wanted something spicy and full of antioxidants. This is what I came up with. And man was it good! Next time, I think I will make it spicier and add ginger, but this version was delicious all on its own. What do you think?

What I Used

Broth
4 cups broth
1 cup water
1 tbsp red miso
4 tbsp garlic
1 tsp red chili paste
1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 tbsp soy sauce (I use mushroom soy sauce)
1 tbsp braggs
2 tbsp peanut butter (I used Earth Balance’s coconut peanut butter spread)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Veggies
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
4 collard leaves, chopped
2 stalks green onion, chopped
1 or 2 handfuls each of red cabbage and spinach
1/2 jalapeno, deseeded

What I Did
As I said, I didn’t have much energy so I didn’t write any directions. It’s a soup though. Sauté some veggies, concoct some broth, taste, adjust, eat. That’s pretty much it. 😉

Dead Baby Daddies and Failed Food Challenges

3 Mar

Recently I dreamt that I had sex with my dead ex-boyfriend. I know, I know, that’s weird as hell. It gets weirder. We made a baby. Now tell me the subconscious isn’t crazy.

I finessed babies out of a dead guy. Who, for the record, looked very much alive in my dream. It’s just that I knew he was dead. Anyway, I sabotaged the condoms, did desperate and ridiculous things with his, um, deposits; I was pretty much a devious, little crazy person. And it paid off. I had a beautiful little baby girl.

I have no idea what the dream means.  There is no entry in my dream book for “coercion: dead people”. I do know that dreams rarely mean what we think they mean. Quite often, they mean the exact opposite of what they appear to mean. Which in this case is an absolute blessing. This dream was probably telling me that I’m going to lose something dear to me if I don’t fight harder for it, or something like that.

All I know is the dream was a hot mess. Kinda like the sweet potato tamales I cooked for this week’s food challenge.

Roasted Sweet Potato

The item chosen was potato. I don’t usually eat white potatoes, but I do love some sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are well, sweet. And normal and wholesome. And comforting. And tamales remind me of happier times and childhood. So after that crazy dream, of course I’d want to make something that reminded me of goodness and innocence.

Ingredients

Filling

Boy, did that not work out for me. The masa was a mix of masa, roasted sweet potato and nutritional yeast. By itself, the mixture was delicious. I had high hopes after a taste! The inside was sautéed black beans, onions, mexican squash, and garlic, which was roasted with the sweet potatoes. Also delectable. But after steaming the tamales for an hour, they were not firm. After another 20 minutes in the oven, they still weren’t firm. I’d run out of friggin’ ideas! Why wouldn’t they just firm up?!

Steaming the Tamales

Plated Tamales

Eventually I had a brain spark and put them in the dehydrator for 14 hours. I still haven’t had the heart to test them out, though. I stuck them in a ziplock and threw them in the freezer. Some things are perhaps better left  sans resurrection. Things worked out in my dream, but I’m afraid I’m not so optimistic about these doggone tamales.

 

 

Crazy Cravings = Cannellini Gorgonzola pizza

26 Feb Pizza

Man, cravings are no joke. I was craving all kinds of things this evening. Pizza. Beans. Sun dried tomatoes. Pizza. And I was feeling lazy. I didn’t want to slave away in the kitchen. What to do, what to do? Flatbread. Quick and easy dough replacement. What’s in the pantry and the fridge? Everything I was craving. And a pizza is born.

I try not to eat bread too often. I talk about my love/hate with bread a little bit here. I also try not to eat dairy. But I had a $5 chunk of gorgonzola just chilling in my fridge waiting to be eaten. I had to obey. I had no choice but to make a pizza.

Except what came out was only slightly pizzaish. Mildly pizza dough. Not quite flatbread. Whatever it was tasted quite delicious. Not too much pizza sauce, the right blend of cannellini beans and pungent gorgonzola. It may not be Chicago style, but it most certainly was deep dish yumminess. I would definitely make this again. Pizza-ishness and all.

What I Used

* adapted from the flatbread recipe found over at NourishingMeals.com:

Dough

1 cup gluten-free flour

1/2 cup of garbanzo flour

1/3 cup coconut flour

1/3 cup arrowroot powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp sea salt

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp honey

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Toppings

1 cup marinara

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup mixed roasted yellow and red bell peppers, chopped

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup basil, chopped

125 g gorgonzola, crumbled

1 cup marinara

What I Did

To prep the crust, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees and sprayed an 8 X 13 pan with olive oil spray as I try to avoid excess oil in my cooking. While the oven heated, I whisked together the dry ingredients through the salt with a fork, I couldn’t find  a whisk. In a separate bowl, said fork whisked together all the wet ingredients. I didn’t make a hole as I normally do, mostly because it’s more fun than just dumping it in there. Today, I just dumped. Dumped and mixed them together with my trusty spatula until all the dry was wet. I threw this concoction into the oven for 15 minutes.

During that 15 minutes, I chopped and crumbled some stuff. I smashed the beans with a fork and then folded in the peppers. When the timer went off, I layered the crust in the following order: marinara, bean mixture, nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and finally gorgonzola. 15 more minutes covered in foil, 10 minutes uncovered, and voila, it was done.

And eating was good.

Romanesco, Fennel and Gorgonzola Gratin

22 Feb Gratin Photo

Oh, fucking romanesco!

Romanesco

The lovely alien romanesco, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Yes, I just cursed over a vegetable. An alien vegetable, with spikes and spears and a high dollar price tag. One of Madame Fleiss’s kinda vegetables. I’m sorry, the former madame. It’s an impostor vegetable. It can’t decide who it wants to be. It wants to be green like broccoli yet clustered like cauliflower. It’s like the Gemini of vegetables. Except Geminis have more integrity than this alien impostor. We are both pretty to look at, though, I’ll give it that.

Anyway, I digress all over the place. Romanesco. I had never heard of romanesco before this week’s food challenge Item was announced. Apparently, it’s popular in Italian dishes, specifically Rome. I’ve never been to Italy. Italian men scare me. I really had no idea what to expect from the vegetable, though. Then I read my fellow challenger’s blog post and, I must admit, I was a tad bit sour about the PGT (pretty green thing). Nevertheless, I was determined to give it my all.

Sliced Romanesco Fennel (Sweet Anise)

I wanted to make something special out of this wanna be vegetable with all that bravado and poor follow through. And that’s exactly what I did. With gratin. Sweet potatoes. Gorgonzola. Fennel. Inspired by this recipe. It was delicious. Enough to make you curse. And I did. And then, I helped myself to another plateful. Fucking romanesco.

Gratin Layers Photo
What I Used

Layers
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, sliced into rounds
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin
1/2 cup anise, chopped
5 or 6 basil leaves, julienned
1 large head of romanesco
1 cup of gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp dijon mustard

Tomato-Marjoram sauce
1 can of diced tomatoes (I used roasted garlic)
1 tbsp marjoram
1 tsp fennel seed
2 cloves garlic

What I Did
Preheat the oven to 375  degrees. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent. Set aside to cool. Spray an 8×8 pan with olive oil spray (or butter if you prefer).

Create a layer at the bottom of the pan with the sweet potato rounds. Next layer with fennel, anise, and basil. Slice the romanesco into very large mounds and place them in layers on top of the previous ingredients. Finish by crumbling the gorgonzola on top and spreading out the butter 1/2 tbsp at a time over the top of the dish. Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast and salt. I topped the gratin with romanesco clusters.

Whisk the milk ingredients together and pour on top of the dish. Place in the oven and back for 50 minutes, covered in foil. Uncover the dish and cook for another 10 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes and whip up the tomato sauce. Serve on the side of a slice.

Plated Romanesco

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Postworkout Smoothie

17 Feb

Yoga is kicking my ass! Every which way, even up! Thanks LAURA BROWN! There’s no such thing as delayed onset. Those muscles start pulsing and kicking the next morning. Even after a 7 PM class! That’s truly, truly a bad sign. And a good one. All at once. Yeah.

Today, I knew that I would be away from the house for hours after my yoga class this morning and that I would need a post yoga smoothie to carry me through the better part of the afternoon. I generally turn to banana smoothies for post workout anything. Bananas are awesome in that they have loads of potassium which keeps my muscles from cramping up. They’re filling and a good way to get in two quick servings of fruit. Today, though, I also needed more protein than usual as I knew these muscles of mine would be working hard in Vinyasa. Inversions, head stands, kicks, really I had no idea what was in store for me when I left the house this morning.

Add to that, I just really, really, really wanted something sweet. I earned it, you know? This smoothie is delicious, filling, and a full meal replacement. If you want it for a snack, half it or share it with a friend. They’ll definitely thank you for it. I’m sitting here with a smile on my face sipping out of a mason jar. Yoga was brutal this morning, but today I learned just how strong my body really is. Your turn. Drink up!

Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Postworkout Smoothie

What’s In It

1 cup chocolate almond milk
1 cup coconut water
2 frozen bananas
1 tsp maca
1 heaping tablespoon of peanut butter (Right now I only have Earth Balance’s coconut peanut butter spread in the house. You could use a 1/2 tbsp of coco oil and a 1/2 tbsp of PB to replicate this smoothie exactly)

Throw everything in a high-powered blender and crunch away on medium for 30 secs and then on high for about 60 secs. Voila, you’re done.

**Make sure you incorporate this high calorie smoothie into a balanced diet for the day so you’re not packing on more calories than you’ve burned.