Perfect winter dinner: salsa verde soup!

I’ve been making this soup for months and haven’t ever posted it, and I’m not really sure why. It’s delicious, one of the easiest recipes I know, and it’s incredibly convenient as it’s made in the slow cooker. When I get home, it’s ready, and no one has to wait, which is good because everyone’s usually starving by then! I usually serve it with something simple like mini vegan quesadillas or corn muffins. (Last night I made my jalapeno corn muffins — yum!) ¬†This is a good one to please the non-vegans in your house, too. My husband’s exact words: “I was skeptical about this, but it’s actually really good!” Future note to self: find more vegan-friendly slow cooker recipes. Meanwhile, here’s this one:

Salsa Verde Soup

Serves 3-4 people

Dump the following into the crock pot:

  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups beans (white or pinto work best)
  • 1 cup sweet corn
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup salsa verde*
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Pinch of sea salt
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Because I forgot to take one this time, this is a screenshot from Instagram, when I first made it over a year ago!

Set slow cooker on low and cook for 7-8 hours. Turn down to warm, then add 2 cups of coarsely chopped spinach or kale. (You can do this in the beginning, but I found that the greens turned an ugly brown and kind of disintegrated, so I prefer to add it at the end.)

*Salsa verde – you can make this yourself by roasting and pureeing tomatillos, which isn’t difficult, but more time-consuming and unnecessary since you can find it at any grocery store. I did this once, but didn’t notice a difference in flavor. You can find it in the Mexican food aisle, and it looks something like this:

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I actually found this one at Big Lots ūüôā

Serve with a squirt of lime, chopped avocado, and cilantro. For non-vegans, you can add some shredded cheddar cheese, but I really don’t think it needs it.

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The avocado provides a nice, creamy element and really compliments that little zing from the lime juice. 

Just for kicks, here’s that jalapeno corn bread recipe:

  • 1 7-oz package of corn bread mix
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax mixed in 3 Tbsp water (this replaces the egg)
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400. Spray muffin pan with nonstick spray and place in oven to warm up. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Remove muffin pan from the oven and spoon cornbread evenly into 6 wells. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

I would tell you to take the leftovers for lunch the next day, buuuuuut there won’t be any left ūüėČ

 

Snacks you can feel good about

Happy New Year everyone!

One of my resolutions is to be more active on this blog. I have been gaining more followers and I don’t want to lose them out of boredom. Sooooo, you can definitely expect to see more from me this year! Hurray!

To start it off, we’re going to talk about snacks, because who doesn’t love snacks? Many of my clients feel that snacking is a bad thing. They feel guilty and hang their heads in shame when they admit to me they’ve been munching¬†between meals. What do I tell them? Snacking is a¬†good thing! It helps keep you satisfied when it’s not time for a meal, and can actually help keep you from overeating when you do have a meal. HOWEVER — WHAT you snack on very much matters. I’m always being asked for suggestions, so to help you make smart choices, I’ve compiled a list of snacks that you can enjoy without feeling guilty.

General rules – For most people, snacks should be under 200 calories and should contain at least two food groups — one of which should be a protein or healthy fat. If you eat only carbs, the satisfaction won’t last long and you’ll be hungry again in no time. Some great combinations:

  • Apple with 1 Tbsp peanut butter
  • Baby carrots with 1/4 cup hummus
  • Trail mix: 2 Tbsp dried fruit, 2 Tbsp raw almonds, 1 tsp dark chocolate chips
  • 6 oz Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup sliced fruit and 1 Tbsp hemp seeds
  • Small banana with 1 Tbsp almond butter spread on it
  • 1 slice whole grain toast with 1/4 avocado smashed on top
  • Homemade smoothie, such as the one below: 1 cup almond milk, 1 cup desired fruit, 1 cup baby spinach

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Now, for specific products:

Bars – you must be careful with these. Look for bars without¬†HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), soy protein isolate, or ingredients you can’t pronounce. They often have over 200 calories and are loaded with sugar, so I don’t generally recommend a bar unless it’s meant as a post-workout refuel and meets the criteria above. Protein bars from GNC or other “nutrition” stores are usually poor quality.¬†The brands I like:

  • Larabar (particularly Alt as they have 10 g of plant protein)
  • Kind (including Healthy Grains)
  • Kashi GoLean roll
  • Raw Revolution
  • Chia Warriorraw revolution

Really, you should make your own. There are tons of recipes out there. I love to make the energy balls from Rich Roll’s The Plantpower Way book:

  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted (soak in water for 30 minutes before making the recipe)
  • 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 4 Tbsp hemp seeds (Walmart carries them)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts

Grind walnuts in the food processor until mealy. Add in the nibs, cocoa powder, and half of the hemp seeds.  Add dates one at a time and blend until everything is a paste consistency. Turn off the food processor, remove the blade, and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the rest of the hemp seeds. The way I make them I usually get about 16 balls out of it, and 3 of them would equal about 180 calories.

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The energy balls I made last week.

Salty – when I say salty, I simply mean they taste salty. Everything listed here is still considered low sodium, although many of them don’t taste that way! Some Jean-approved products:

  • Skinny Pop — all varieties
  • Lesser Evil popcorn (try the wasabi — yum!)
  • Air-popped popcorn (not microwave…the bags have cancer-causing chemicals, yuck!) ¬†— Can you tell I like popcorn??
  • Most brands of kettle corn
  • Newman’s Own protein pretzels (hard to find, Vitacost has them)
  • Snapea Crisps
  • The Good Bean crispy crunchy¬†chickpeas
  • World Peas (see my review in the previous post)
  • True North Nut Clusters (bonus: also sweet!)

Sweet – now let me be clear on something: this should NOT be your first choice and should NOT replace healthier snacks. Sugar does not keep you full and you will likely end up craving more if you’re not careful. Treat these as desserts¬†or emergency supplies (you know, like if you’re having the worst day ever or PMS). I personally allow myself a couple of pieces of dark chocolate every day after lunch, but wouldn’t eat it in place of my morning snack. It’s all in the balance! Some 200 calorie ideas:

  • Five Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares
  • 2 Tbsp dark chocolate-covered nuts
  • 1/2 cup ice cream (preferably non-dairy versions like cashew or almond)
  • 9 Hershey’s kisses
  • 2 fun-size candy bars

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Happy snacking!

Vegan Walnut Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

Hi guys! Miss me?? I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 months without a post. This summer has been so busy for me, so I apologize for my absence. Hopefully this amazing pancake recipe will make up for it a little bit!

On an extremely rare occasion, I found myself alone this Sunday morning. My husband got called into work, and my teenager is still sleeping. I had a major hankering for pancakes (a food for which my husband does not share my enthusiasm!), so I started flipping through my cookbooks. I settled on this one from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook, which I’ve had for ages. (In fact, it was my first vegetarian cookbook — my mother gave it to me as a teenager.) Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I made a few minor changes/editions. ¬†As you can see, this is one sexy stack!

Boom. Mouth explosion.

Boom. Mouth explosion.

Vegan Oat & Walnut Pancakes

Makes about 10 pancakes, depending on size

Dry ingredients:

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup almond flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

2 Tbsp Nude Foods Breakfast Boost (optional, see below)

1/4 cup toasted and chopped walnuts

1/4 quick cooking rolled oats

Wet Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups almond milk

1 Tbsp grapeseed oil

1 tsp maple syrup or agave nectar

Mix all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ones. Stir just until mixed. Ladle onto a hot skillet sprayed with cooking spray.

About that Breakfast Boost — this is a product I have used for some time. I typically put it into smoothies but wanted to see how it would work with this recipe. (FYI this is not a paid endorsement of any kind, I’m just a big fan!). It’s a fantastic superfood powder that adds a nice nutritional boost. Dried berries, almonds, and flax are key ingredients. ¬†It’s somewhat hard to find (at least where I live), but I’ve been able to buy it on http://www.abesmarket.com and Amazon. I’m sure this recipe would be equally delicious without it, I just wanted to amp it up a bit.

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Blueberry Compote

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup pomegranate juice or water

1 tsp lemon zest or 2 drops lemon essential oil

2 tsp corn starch dissolved in 2 tsp water

Heat blueberries and juice over medium heat in a saucepan until liquid starts to bubble. Turn heat up to high and add corn starch, bringing up to a boil. Stir constantly for 1 minute or until liquid thickens. Turn off heat and cover; it will thicken a little more as it sits.

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Congratulations! Your breakfast is ready!! Layer pancakes with almond butter (I used this incredible superberry macqui camu almond butter I bought online, also at Abe’s Market), peanut butter, or really anything else that strikes your fancy. Then dump the compote allllllll over that stack. Proceed to devour.

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.¬†

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The finished product

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

 

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

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

 

Or, you can make a really easy quinoa bowl:

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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!¬†

Vegan Oatmeal Banana Pancakes: Semi-original

This really is my M.O, isn’t it? Stealing recipes and making them vegan….but you know what? All for a good cause, right?

This one is adapted from the “Moosewood Restaurant New Classics” cookbook. (it’s a great one, by the way — written by the owners of the Moosewood Restaurant in New York — definitely worth checking out!) The pancakes are already vegetarian, but I made some modifications to make them vegan. Enjoy!

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Dry Ingredients:
1 cup wheat flour (use other for gluten-free option)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup rolled oats, ground fine (or can use instant oats)

Mix together all dry ingredients; set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the following:

1 Tbsp ground flax (soaked in 3 Tbsp hot water for 2-3 minutes)
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 Tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup sliced banana

Add these to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Cook on a lightly oiled skillet, 1-2 minutes each side.

There are myriad ways to serve this, but I had a ton of figs that I picked from my best friend’s tree yesterday so I thought they would be lovely with it. They were, along with some fresh strawberries and a dollop of organic peanut butter (aka the food of the Gods, am I right??)

Per pancake: 100 calories, 3 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate.

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!

Original Recipe: Cherry Berry Overnight Oats

I usually steal recipes, but I’m proud to say this one is all mine!¬†

I’ve tried many different recipes for overnight oats; some I’ve loved, some not so much. I played around a little bit and came up with my ideal version — hope you like it as much as I did!

Ingredients: 

1 cup rolled oats (Bob’s Red Mill makes a great gluten-free version)

¬†1 cup almond milk (alternative — you can use milk and/or Greek yogurt if you’re not vegan)

1/4 cup chia seeds

 1 cup organic unsweetened applesauce

(This makes about 3 servings)

Place all ingredients into a mason jar (this is what I used, because I’m country like that) or other airtight container. Stir well to combine. Put the lid on and refrigerate overnight.¬†

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Before mixing

In the morning, take it out and you shall see that it is “magicially” thickened and softened. Spoon out about 1/3 of the¬†mixture¬†into a bowl. This is where you can really take some creative liberties. Experiment with different types of fruits, nuts, seasonings, or nut butters. To make it according to what I did, add:

1/4 cup dried tart cherries

2 Tbsp walnuts

Dollop of homemade strawberry chia jam (from Oh She Glows, naturally!)

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Before devouring

Eat up, buttercup.

I didn’t think it needed any sweetener added to it because of the fruit, but this is up to you.¬†

Side note: This fills me up! This is important — I usually get hungry about 2-3 hours after breakfast. I can go at least 4 with this¬†in my fuel tank.

Have a healthy, happy day! It’s guaranteed with a breakfast like this!

Almond Butter Chocolate-Chip cookies – from Oh She Glows

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Photo credit: Angela Liddon (Oh She Glows cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/4 cup coconut oil or vegan butter
1/4 cup almond butter (I like Justin’s Maple flavor)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats*
1 cup almonds (unsalted)*
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

*Put oats and almonds into a food processor and grind into a flour.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. In a small bowl, combine flaxseed with 3 Tbsp water and set aside to thicken.
In a large bowl, beat together coconut oil and almond butter. Add sugar and syrup and beat an additional minute. Then beat in the flaxseed mixture and vanilla. One by one, beat in the baking powder, soda, salt, and oat/almond flour. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Form into 1-inch balls (I use a small melon baller) and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes. They will be very soft. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Makes about 2 dozen.

Now, the challenge — try not to eat them all at once! Take them to work or put some in the freezer so you’re not tempted. Enjoy!