Roasted Vegetables = Maximum Versatility!

Roasting is probably my favorite way to prepare vegetables. It brings out a whole new level of flavor that you can’t achieve from any other cooking method. There are some vegetables, in fact, that I will ONLY eat roasted (brussels sprouts, for example). Yeah, it makes that much of a difference. In addition to the deliciousness factor, roasting carries two additional benefits: 1) You can roast just about any veggie, so it’s a great way to “clean out the fridge,” and 2) there is so much you can do with the veggies afterward! Plus, it’s pretty easy once you get everything sliced and diced; all you have to do is stir them ever so often.

Last week, I harvested piles of squash, ichiban eggplant (you know, the beautifully deep purple slender ones), and onions. They were sitting there looking so lonely, so I decided to slice them all up and pop them into the oven. I preheated the oven to 350. Meanwhile, I placed all the veggies in a gallon-size Ziploc baggie. At this point I added several whole cloves of garlic, because roasted garlic is AMAZING and takes on this exquisite sweetness. I then added 2 Tbsp of olive oil (this time I used my tuscan herb-infused one) and some sea salt and pepper. I then sealed the baggie and moved it around with my fingers to get the olive oil all over the veggies. After spreading them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, into the oven they went! It’s best to stir them about every 15-20 minutes. Depending on the vegetables, they may take up to an hour to roast, so plan accordingly! Everything was sliced very thin, so cooking time was only about 40 minutes here. 

IMG_20140828_194307_072

The finished product

I let them cool since I wasn’t using them right away, and put them in a large container for storage. 

 

IMG_20140828_202222_338

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The possibilities here are pretty much endless. You can use them to make wraps, like this one I made for lunch the next day:

IMG_20140829_123304_759

Flatout flax wrap with spinach and cashew cheese added. An easy and delicious Saturday lunch!

 

Or, you can make a really easy quinoa bowl:

IMG_20140902_165805_816

Veggies were reheated in a pan with some chickpeas and nutritional yeast while the quinoa cooked.

Other ideas:

  • Serve with your favorite pasta
  • Make PIZZA! 
  • Add cubed tofu and cashews and serve over brown rice
  • Tasty curry
  • Omelets, if you eat eggs
  • Fajitas

There is probably lots more that I’m not thinking of. Now go get in the kitchen, roast up those suckers, and get creative! 

Original Recipe: Carrot-Squash Curry Soup

I know it’s not fall yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start making butternut squash EVERYTHING. This past week I’ve pulled up a ton of carrots and while I love eating them raw, I wanted to get a little more creative. Soooo I made this soup! Since I have a terrible tendency to throw things together without measuring, I’ve done my very best to estimate the quantities for you. You may want to adjust the spices and heat to your liking, as well. Enjoy!

The final product!

The final product!

Carrot-Squash Curry Soup
Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients:

1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small apple, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 can organic butternut squash puree (or 1 whole squash, cubed)
1 cup plain almond milk
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Saute onion 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, steam carrots and apples until soft. Add carrots/apples to onions along with the curry powder, coriander, ginger, and cayenne pepper. Stir well to coat. Add in butternut squash and almond milk. (Note: if you like your soup thinner, you can also add a cup of veggie broth or water at this point. Personally, I’m a thicker soup kind of gal.) Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Using an immersion blender, break up carrot/apple chunks. (If you don’t have one, just pour the soup into a blender and puree until smooth, then return to the pot.) Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Just before serving, stir in the peanut butter and add salt & pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Vegan Lunch Box – new feature!!

Hey-yo! I’m starting a new blog feature — Vegan Lunch Box! I’m going to show you what I’m packing in my lunches, to show examples of what a well-balanced, energy-sustaining, vegan lunch looks like!

We are so busy in life. Between work, kids, workouts, grocery shopping, cleaning (need I go on?), the last thing we want to worry about is what to eat for lunch. Problem is, when we stop worrying about it, we start eating convenience foods and other “quick fix” items that might be wallet-friendly, but definitely not waistline-friendly. The solution is to pack your own lunch. That way, no matter where you are, you always have a healthy meal on hand. You’re welcome, busy people of the world!

To kick it off, here’s what I packed today:

Counterclockwise, from top right:

Morning snack – organic gala apple and a Raw Rev bar

Lunch – homemade vegan chickpea salad (Oh She Glows recipe, of course!), rice crackers, half an avocado. The salad came from the salad bar at work….take advantage of this! If you don’t have one, pack a salad or some other veggies too.

Pre-Zumba snack – Chocolate banana shake made with almond milk.

*The chickpea salad took 10 minutes to prepare. Everything else was ready to eat.*

Key to success: A well-stocked kitchen!

Keep in the pantry: beans, brown rice, quinoa, pasta, low-sodium diced tomatoes, pita bread, nuts and seeds, whole grain crackers, dried fruits.

Keep in the fridge: cut-up fruits and veggies, fresh herbs, sprouted bread (like Ezekiel), hummus, almond/soy milk, soy yogurt, nutritional yeast.

Keep in the freezer: vegetables, edamame, fruit, dinner leftovers

Keep at work: Various healthy snacks such as nuts, fresh/dried fruit, roasted chickpeas, whole grain crackers,

There are infinite possibilities and combinations using the above foods. Get creative and get packing! Stay tuned for more Vegan Lunch Box, coming soon!

New product review: Raw Revolution

Today, I am reviewing a bar I just tried for the first time. It’s an exciting day! (At least for me!)
Generally, I’m not the type of person to choose a bar over, say, nuts or fresh fruit as a snack. I also don’t insist upon gluten-free, since I don’t have celiac disease and there’s little evidence to support a gluten-free diet otherwise. However, I also cannot resist a good bargain, so when I saw these on one of my discount shopping websites, I had to try it.

raw revolution

Initially, my inner skeptic thought, “it’s vegan, raw, gluten free, and on sale, so it probably tastes terrible.” I am pleased to report that I was proven wrong. It was both chewy and crunchy with nice chunks of almonds. The raspberry flavor was perfectly balanced with the chocolate. It was pretty amazing, really.

Here’s the breakdown:

What I liked:
1) The flavor, obviously. You can’t really go wrong with anything called chocolate truffle. This particular brand comes in other flavors, too.
2) There are exactly eight ingredients: cashews, sunflower seeds, agave, dates, cocoa, almonds, raspberry powder, and flax (all organic!). I’m big on simplicity and pronounceability, so they got major points for this.
3) It actually filled me up. I’m known for being kind of a “bottomless pit”, so this is impressive. It’s been an hour since I’ve eaten it and I still feel satisfied.

What I didn’t like:
Honestly, there wasn’t really anything I didn’t like. I’m not sure how much these cost in retail, but I’m willing to bet they’re quite a bit more than what I paid. (I got them at http://www.zulily.com for about $10 for a box of 12.)

Basic Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 5 g fiber, 7 g protein, 11 g unsaturated fats (including omega-3s from the flax, bonus!)

The bottom line: Worth it! If you can find these at a reasonable price, go for it. (Or go for it anyway if you don’t care about price!)
I look forward to trying some of the other flavors if I can find them on sale.

Spring time means fresh veggies!

Apple. The fruit and flowers.Here in Virginia, the weather is a fickle thing. After lots of back-and-forth between snow, rain, warm, and cold, it seems spring is here to stay. Hurray! That means time to start the vegetable garden! Growing your own food is much easier than you think, whether you’re limited to containers on a patio or have many acres. The vegetables you grow are tastier, healthier, and best of all, you enjoy the rewarding feeling that comes with knowing you have provided food for your family — no supermarket needed!

My husband made us some raised beds, which I HIGHLY recommend, especially if the soil quality isn’t great where you live. You can fill in the beds with compost, vermiculite, and other rich materials to give your seeds a great start. Plus, it cuts down on weeding. It’s a win-win!

Soon, my little "baby basils" will be ready for transplanting!

Soon, my little “baby basils” will be ready for transplanting!

<

What are you growing this year?
So far, I have planted dill, chives, strawberries, potatoes, kale, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, turnips, onions and garlic.
This weekend I will be planting squash and cilantro. I will be posting pictures of the veggies' progress as well as harvesting when the time comes, so stay tuned!!