Spiced Quinoa with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually not grain but rather a seed. What makes it so wonderful is that it’s a plant-based, complete protein meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (the ones your body can’t produce).  Yea, that’s pretty cool.  One cup cooked gives you 8 grams of protein with just over 200 calories and about 3.5g fat.  For long time I wanted so badly to love this little protein-packed wonder seed, but everytime I cooked it I found it tastless and mushy.  Yuck.  So, I decided to try using less liquid and swapped broth for water, threw in spices, garlic, etc. and voila, I was converted.

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Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

Olive oil or cooking spray

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth (water can be substituted)

Salt and pepper to taste

Pepitas (already roasted pumpkin seeds) or regular raw pumpkin seeds

Chopped cilantro

Method

Heat oil in a skillet.  Add onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add vinegar, cumin, smoked paprika, quinoa; stir o combine everything and cook just a minute.  Add in broth and stir.  Turn heat up and bring to boil, then reduce to low and simmer covered 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  If there’s still too much liquid, you can removed cover and cook a few minutes longer.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds and cilantro. Serve as a side dish, add beans to make it a main dish, or add to a wrap with veggies.

*To roast pumpkin seeds just lay on a baking sheet, spray with cooking oil, and bake at 350 for a few minutes until they start to turn golden.  I’ve never actually timed it but they always turn out ok.

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No-Bake Lemon Coconut Bars

I love lemon anything and I love coconut anything.  And I love the two together .  One of my all-time favorite desserts is the lemon coconut bundt cake in my Veganomicon cookbook but unfortunately I can’t eat cake everyday. Since I’ve been experimenting with making my own version of Lara Bars, I had to do one of my favorite flavor combinations.  Oh boy, it did not disappoint.  I feel way less guilty about devouring these little treats that are raw, vegan, whole food ingredients, with no sugar added.

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Makes about 20 1-2 inch squares

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashews

2 cups dried dates, pitted

3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Zest of one lemon

2 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Method

Note: If your dates aren’t very soft, soak them in hot water for 10 minutes or until softened.

Blend cashews in a food processor until it’s just beginning to turn from a powder to a nut butter.  This will take a few minutes so be patient.  Now add your dates and process until it all comes together.  This could also take a few minutes.  Scrape down the sides if needed.  Now add remaining ingredients pulse several times until all incorporated.

Remove and place on parchment paper.  Press into a square or rectangle and place another sheet of parchment on top.  Optional: use a cast iron skillet to flatten the top.  Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour, then cut into squares.  Store in the refrigerator.

Southwest Black Bean, Corn, and Rice Salad

So many great things about this dish – it’s an easy mix some stuff together kind of recipe, it’s vegan and healthy, it’s delicious, and it doesn’t really require cooking if you get the kind of rice you can just microwave.  Oh and it’s versatile too.  You can switch up the grains (I used a combination or brown rice and barley), add avocado if you like, use it as a side or a main dish, in tacos or burritos, whatever you want.  The recipe makes 2-3 side dish servings but it can easily be doubled for a 4-5 person dinner or for a party.

Serves 2-3 as a side dish

Ingredients

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne (optional)

1 Tbsp canola oil

1/4 cup vegetable broth

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

2 cups cooked brown rice, barley or another grain

3/4 cup cooked black beans (about half a can drained)

3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed

1/4 cup chopped green onion

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Mix spices, oil, broth and vinegar in a large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and stir until everything is combined and mixed with the dressing.  This is best if left to chill in the refridgerator 1-2 hours before serving.

Falafel Spiced Roasted Chickpea Tacos

I really love falafel.  So much in fact that at one point I created a baked falafel recipe in my early days of blogging.  I’ve been meaning to revisit this recipe to see how I could revamp it, but to have to bust out the food processor, form little patties, and all that, just hasn’t been something I’ve had time for.  So I had this brilliant idea to take all those spices and flavors and just coat the chickpeas in them, then roast them.  I do love roasted chickpeas. I substitute onion for onion powder, fresh garlic with garlic powder that way I wouldn’t have to worry about it burning in the oven and the flavors would be all combined.   It worked like a charm!  I got my falafely goodness without the work. Yep, I’ll pat myself on the back for this one.  It’s pretty freakin’ good.

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Makes 4 tacos

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp white pepper

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:

Diced tomato

Diced onion

Diced dill pickle (yes this goes very well with falafel)

Lettuce

Tahini dressing (I love the one from Trader Joes that you can find by the hummus or try my recipe)

Taco size tortillas

Method

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Chickpeas to a bowl and add olive oil and lemon juice.  Give it a toss to coat.

In a small bowl, mix all the spices together.  This is important so that you have an even flavor throughout.  Add the spices to the chickpeas along with the fresh herbs and lastly the salt and pepper.  Toss to thoroughly coat.

Spread chickpeas on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 30-40 minutes (depending how crispy you want them).

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

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Serves 3-4

Ingredients

1 heaping cup of grape tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

2 Tbsp live oil

1/2 large onion, diced

Pinch of salt

3 large garlic cloves

1 tsp dried thyme

1 28oz can whole plum tomatoes

2-3 cups vegetable broth

1 cup fresh basil leaves (or about a handful)

Salt and pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper for heat (optional)

Method

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss grapes tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Add to parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

While tomatoes are in the oven, add olive oil to saucepan and heat over medium-low.  Add onion and pinch of salt and cook 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme; cook 2 minutes.

Add whole can of tomatoes with juice, 2 cups of the broth and basil. Break up the tomatoes slightly with a wooden spoon.  Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.

Let cool slightly and add to a blender along with roasted tomatoes.  Puree, add more broth if you like a thinner consistency.  Transfer back to pot and season with salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper to taste.

Lemon Garlic Kale

Glorious green kale! Simply sauteed with just olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spritzed with lemon before serving.  One tip: don’t cook the hell out of it since we want to preserve some of those wonderful nutrients kale has to offer.  Just a few minutes until it lightly wilted is all it needs!

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Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 bunch of curly kale, large rib removed, torn into pieces

3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or chopped

Water

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of about half a lemon

Method

Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the a large skillet or sauce pan and heat over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute about 3 minutes.

Add kale and 2-3 tablespoons of water, cover and allow to steam just 2 minutes.  Remove lid and toss kale around to cook evenly.  If needed, return lid and let steam additional minute.

Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a dish and toss with lemon juice and also a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

10 Vegetable Soup

A hearty, veggie packed with soup with carrot, celery, onion, tomato, potato, cauliflower, zucchini, kale, peas and lima beans (I guess these are technically a legume but I’ll just count them as a vegetable too).  This soup will freeze well too! I created a batch with 6 servings and for some of the vegetables I only used smaller amounts so here are some tips to getting the most out of some of the fresh vegetables:

Carrots:  With a bunch of whole carrots cut up the extra for snacking or use baby carrots.

Celery: I get it off the salad bar because I never end up using a whole bunch.

Zucchini: I also got this off the salad bar but if you don’t use a whole zucchini, saute extra with olive oil and add to pasta and sauce.

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Serves 6

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 small onion, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 cup diced zucchini

1 small yukon gold or red potato, cubed (about 1/2inch)

1 can diced tomato w/ juice

4-5 cups low sodium vegetable broth

1 cup small cauliflower florets

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen lima beans

1 large kale leaf, rib removed, chopped into small pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Add oil to a large soup pot and warm over medium heat for a minute.  Add onion, celery and carrot with a pinch of salt.  Cook 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and basil and cook another 2 minutes.

Add zucchini, potato, cauliflower and toss to coat; cook for a minute.  Add tomatoes and 4 cups of broth.  Increase heat and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add peas and lima beans, cook 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, stir in kale. Season with salt and pepper.