Potato and Carrot Cheese Sauce

Hi guys! It’s been a while. My apologies. 

Today I have a recipe for you that I am OBSESSED with. 

  
I’ve always been picky about cheese, but I LOVE macaroni and cheese. Seriously. In my pre vegan days I used to scarf the macaroni from KFC. Now that I’m vegan, it’s been difficult to find a macaroni that meets my high picky standards. I’m not a fan at all of Daiya, Earth Balance box macaroni tastes too sweet for me, and I’m not the kind of vegan who can just put some vegan butter and nooch on noodles and be satisfied. Then I joined this group on facebook called “What Fat Vegans Eat”, and came across a recipe for cheese sauce made with potatoes and carrots. So I made it as queso dip for Memorial Day, and really liked it. But I only like queso dip… I LOVE macaroni. So I took the recipe, made a bunch of changes and VOILA! I finally found vegan Mac that I’m happy with. 

  
You can use this to make queso dip, macaroni, cheese sauce for enchiladas or nachos, etc. It’s versatile. If you’re making it as queso, I recommend adding a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Chipotle chili peppers in adobo would also be a good addition for if you’re making it as queso dip. Ah, possibilities. 

Ingredients:

2 cups skinned potatoes, diced 

1 cup skinned carrots, diced 

1 cup unsweetened plain dairy-free milk

1/8 cup oil (grapeseed, olive, coconut, avocado)

2 tsp. salt

4 Tablespoons lemon juice 

3/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes (buy it here)

2 teaspoons onion powder 

2 teaspoons garlic powder 

A pinch of ground cumin

Instructions:

Gather all ingredients. Skin and dice the potatoes and carrots. Boil the potatoes and carrots until soft. Then add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. If it seems too dry, add a splash more non-dairy milk until you get the right consistency. Serve with chips or pour over pasta. Enjoy!

Tip: if reheating, add a few tablespoons of non-dairy milk to it to get it smooth. Makes all the difference!

  

Coconut, Chickpea & Kale Curry

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I know, I know. I do a LOT of curry recipes on this blog. I can’t help it. I lived in Okinawa where curry is everywhere. While living there I tried Japanese curry, Indian curry, Turkish curry, Thai curry… Probably more than that but I can’t remember. Curry is awesome. That’s why I do so many recipes revolving around curry.

Now first off, I have to tell you this isn’t exactly an original RCV recipe, it’s derived from my cooking course I’m currently taking through Rouxbe (which is AWESOME, by the way). Now I’ve changed quite a few things from their recipe, and decided to share it with you. Originally the dish was just coconut braised chickpeas and spinach. I turned it into coconut braised chickpea curry with kale, because I love curry with coconut milk and I hate cooked spinach. I also took out some other things I didn’t like in the recipe from the course, such as fresh ginger. What can I say? I’ll always be a little bit picky. I’ll never like fresh ginger, raw carrots, cooked spinach, or okra. But the beauty about learning to cook with plants is it is SO versatile! Adapting a recipe is no problem.

So without further babbling…

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Coconut, Chickpea & Kale Curry

Ingredients
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (dried, not jarred)
1 15 ounce can of chickpeas
2 tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 – 14 oz can coconut milk
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cup of kale
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
Optional garnish – cilantro

Instructions
Prep work- first dice the onion and mince the garlic and ginger. Next, zest the lemon. Juice the lemon and save for later. Measure out the sun-dried tomatoes and cut into small strips or cubes. Drain & rinse the chickpeas. Measure out the chili flakes and coconut oil.

Getting down to business- Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the oil, followed by the onions. Sweat the onions for about 10 minutes (cook over no more than medium heat without browning). Once soft, add the garlic and ginger powder and cook for another minute. Add in the sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and chili flakes. Let cook for another minute. Turn up the heat and add the chickpeas and stir to coat in the mixture. Cook for a few minutes. Once the chickpeas are heated through, add in the kale a handful at a time. Lastly, add the coconut milk, curry powder, and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Stir and a add bit of the reserved lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper as needed. At this point I also added dried turmeric just for color and nutritional purposes, but it adds no flavor to the dish so it can be omitted. Once everything has heated through, serve it up with any grain you like, even quinoa would work. I usually use jasmine rice. Garnish each plate with a some fresh cilantro if you wish and enjoy.

A Letter to My Former Self

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Dear Rachel,

In 1995, you were three. You loved the zoo. You loved the aquarium. You loved the petting zoo the most. What kid wouldn’t? The pigs, the goats, the sheep, the stingrays. They’re all so cute! The pigs are three times the size of you. The sheep are soft. The stingrays are smooth. The goats have horns and chew funny. Animals are awesome. When it’s time to leave the petting zoo, it’s obvious how disappointing it is for you. But your parents take you out for dinner afterwards or we will all go home and order Chinese food. Your favorite dish – beef and broccoli.

In 1997, you were five. Upon watching the heart warming movie Air Bud, you promptly cried and made your way to your parents room sobbing. That little boy from the movie loved his dog so much! And you had so much love in your tiny heart, you felt you couldn’t bear the weight of it and needed a pet to love. Having generous parents, you were at the pet store picking out fish the very next day. When one fish went “missing” (found a hole in the treasure chest and snuggled up inside it for hours at a time), you were frantic. Those fish were precious to you. What else is precious to you? Quality time with family at your favorite restaurant, JD’s. Your favorite dish – 21 fried shrimp.

Later in 1997, you were in kindergarten. Your sister convinced your mom to get a cat. Paws was her name. We all loved Paws. What else did we love? McDonald’s cheeseburgers.

In 1998, you were in first grade. On a trip to the zoo with your schoolmates you fell in love with one of the chickens at the petting zoo. You remember the one! Red feathers, liked to be hugged. You didn’t want to share her with your fellow class mates. Your mom snapped a few photos. You had the biggest grin on your face. What else made you smile like that? Going to Bunny’s cafe with your dad and ordering chicken  “fingers” for lunch.

In 1999, you were seven years old. You and your friends find something amazing right in your own backyard (literally). A creek! How have we never noticed this creek before? So many amazing animals live in this creek! Some scary ones, like alligators and HUGE snakes. But some you just can’t take your eyes off of, like turtles and huge frogs. The best though, by far, were the three otters who lived there. One time you even got to feed them by hand.

Whilst walking a nature trail with your class on another field trip, your mom found a birds egg that had fallen on the ground completely unharmed. You couldn’t believe your luck! What a precious find- a baby bird could be inside. Then another girl in your class walked up to you and smashed the egg in your hand. Your little heart completely broke for the baby bird (you didn’t know at the time that the bird was most likely dead already).

In the year 2000, you were eight. You loved to play outside. While walking home one day from your friends house down the street, you find a cat attacking a bird in the road. You chased away the cat and picked up the bird and brought it home. Sadly, the bird died. Your little heart broke again. It wasn’t all bad times though. Your family eats breakfast for dinner all of the time. Bacon, sausage, pancakes, and scrambled eggs.

In 2002, you were in fifth grade. Your fifth grade class took a field trip to the beach to study different oceanic life. In the water you could see some sort of animal, opening and closing it’s “mouth” or whatever it was. You were fascinated by it. You must’ve stared out at it for fifteen minutes or so. Then a little boy from your class threw a rock at it and presumably killed it. Your little heart broke again, and you shoved that boy into the sand in a rage. Poor unidentified creature, how could that little boy be so cruel?! You eventually forgave that boy, and you all went to buddy’s buffet on another field trip and you ate your weight in pork fried rice and baby back ribs.

In 2003, you moved to a new city.The first week of living there, a new person in your life made you dinner of lamb chops. You turned to your mom and said “mom, lamb? As in ‘Mary had a little’?”. You ate maybe one bite, disgusted at the idea that someone would eat one of your animal friends. Why couldn’t they have made a dinner of chicken for you, like a normal person?

That same year you received a bunny from a pet store as a present. His name was Oreo. You loved Oreo. You also got to take care of other animals that you or your stepdad found. Mockingbirds, wild bunnies, a baby squirrel, baby geese, stray cats and dogs. Your favorite –  a baby hog. Your stepdad left him on the back porch for you. You named him Snuggles. He was covered in ticks, but you loved him. He wasn’t yours for long. I don’t remember exactly what happened to him, but I think he became the dinner of a worker on the farm. Which left a sadness in you that I think sparked something that later ignited in 2013. But alas, you moved on with your life. You hung out with friends, you read lots of books, and you ate a lot of sausage soup at Olive Garden.

In 2006, you moved back to where you grew up and started high school. You had a friend who told you about how KFC treats their chickens like garbage, throws them on the ground, kicks them, punches them. Outraged, you told everyone at school to boycott KFC. Not even a week later you were at KFC eating a chicken, cheese, and mashed potato bowl.

That same year you purchased a dog from a breeder, not knowing where it came from. The truth behind that is still a mystery, but it’s likely your beloved pet came from a mother who was forcefully impregnated until she “expired”. The sad truth of getting the “perfect” breed of dog that no one ever told you.

in 2007, a girl in your speech class was a vegetarian. When she did her informative speech regarding the different kinds of diets and how to go vegan, you rolled your eyes and reminded yourself of the USDA’s food pyramid you’d learned just the year before. You reminded yourself what your parents had told you, verbatim – “We have dominion.”  You excused yourself once again from the feelings of empathy that you felt creeping up your neck, tucking them away in a drawer in your heart and covering your eyes with apathy that you had come to know so well.

In 2008, after two years of a diet mainly consisting of fast food and sometimes eating TWO pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream per day, you ballooned up to 146 pounds. You were tormented by people in school, one guy pointed at the stretch marks on your legs, and one guy flat out told you that you should get liposuction. You turned to bulimia, which didn’t work fast enough, and then to anorexia. After landing at 109 pounds by eating mainly McDonald’s hash browns and Arizona iced tea as sustenance for six months, you realized you had a problem. A problem you didn’t really overcome until you learned the true value of health almost four years later.

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In 2009 you were still struggling with your eating disorder, and meanwhile you judged a girl you knew in high school for being pescatarian. Or rather, you judged her parent that raised her that way. What kind of parent would deprive their child of beef? How dare they!

In 2010 you worked at a pizza shop. You would frequently eat cheesesteaks, chicken wings, ultimate pizzas, and bacon cheeseburgers at work. When you weren’t still dealing with your anorexia and going on water fasts, that is. You wrote on facebook “I don’t understand how vegetarians do it. I love bacon cheeseburgers.”, and a lot of people liked that post. Eating meat made you likeable, and you knew it.

In 2011 you worked at an animal hospital as a receptionist. You judged every person who came into the building that was obviously mistreating the animals in their care, meanwhile you would sometimes eat two mdconalds cheeseburgers per day.

This same year you yelled at a family member who made light of the time they burned a dog on it’s rear end with a motorcycle tailpipe. This was the second time they’d brought this up in front of you, and you were determined to make it the last. It was completely unfathomable to you that anyone would harm an animal on purpose like that. You yelled at this family member over dinner, as you consumed a plate of grilled chicken.

In 2012, you met Yesenia. Yesenia eventually grew to become vegan. You would frequently become annoyed with her “vegan propaganda”, and would ask her to remember that we shouldn’t judge others. Because judging others is worse, in your mind, than needless death. You wanted Yesenia to be wrong about you so much, in fact, that you went looking into information about health and factory farms hoping to be the one to prove her wrong. It became clear very quickly who was actually the one who was wrong. It wasn’t Yesenia.

Here I am now in 2015, realizing how judgmental and broken of a person I have been and sometimes still am. Here I am looking back at you and your broken heart over all the animals you wanted to save, yet now my heart breaks over all the animals I didn’t save just for the sake of family dinners and an addiction to chicken fingers. Here I am struggling with having a completely different mindset on what “we have dominion” means than my family. Here I am struggling thinking back to all the good I could’ve done and the kindness I could have spread had I known then what I know now. Here I am struggling with knowing how many times I was faced with the opportunity to change, and instead judged the person presenting me with information. I struggle with the thoughts of anorexia, yes, but don’t give in anymore. I know why – because I’ve made studying nutrition and the importance of health a priority instead of giving in to the addiction of being skinny. Wouldn’t it have been great to have been taught actual nutrition while in high school? Could your eating disorder have been prevented if you had been taught adequately? Could girls like you who are in school now struggling with it now be saved from the damage by being taught about adequate nutrition? Here I am struggling with the damage and murder caused by my own apathy that I try to make amends for now, but still have to watch people I love every day give in to the apathetic lifestyle even knowing the damage it causes. Here I am struggling everyday to love everyone and not judge them for funding industries I know to be cruel and unhealthy, which is so incredibly difficult when you are passionate about animals and health. It is difficult living knowing the majority of people around you just don’t care about anything, their apathy being a disease you want to cure so everyone can live happily. Here I am now seeing what I wish I saw so long ago: the idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong in the world.

Sometimes I am crushed by the weight of what might have been and what could be. But I’ll tell you something else.

Here I am, happy. I know the truth about the food industries and I know how to change it. And I am making a difference. And that makes me happy.

I have new friends who live as compassionately as I try to, and I get to be around them and fellowship with them and drink in their positivity. And that makes me happy.

I am an actual, honest to goodness ACTIVIST. Rather than paying lip service and talking about what I wish would happen, I’m actively doing the best I can to make the world a better place. There’s something so empowering about that. And that makes me happy.

I get to try new foods that I would’ve turned my nose up at before. I get to thank my mother for not allowing me to eat Kraft macaroni and become addicted. I get to go to cooking school and learn how to make gourmet food without harming any creature I love. I get to be the healthiest I’ve ever been. And that makes me happy.

I get to be who I always was deep down – an animal lover. But a TRUE animal lover, not the kind that would pet Snuggles and then eat sausage soup. I get to hug, kiss, pet, play with, adore, and tell people all about these amazing animals that God made with His own two hands. And that makes me happy.

I get to praise God every time I see a new animal or see them do something new or make a new friend or make a funny noise. I get to share this world with them and be their friend, their advocate, their comforter. And that makes me happy.

I get to educate people on health, wellness, and current issues and tell them how we can help ourselves and each other. And that makes me happy.

I get to be free of the chains of anorexia because plant-based foods have allowed me to be more comfortable in my body than I’ve ever been, and that makes me happy.

Most of all, I get to be myself for the first time in my life. And how blessed am I that I have a husband that supports me being who I truly am? I am a wife, I am a recovering anorexic, I am a follower of Christ, I am a vegan. I am happy.

And looking back, I am thankful that everything has led me here.

Love, Rachel.

Interview with The Tree Kisser

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have recently seen this post of mine when I participated in The Tree Kisser’s acts of kindness challenge.

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After my post, Jessica Schlueter (creator of The Tree Kisser) got in contact with me, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask her a few questions about her small business. Over the past year, my husband and I have tried to be very conscious about where our dollars go. We realized that every time we buy something, we are not only creating a demand for that product but essentially we are voting for the business we are buying from. We are voting yes for their product, their morals as a company, their practices, and upon realizing this we wanted to make sure we gave our money to people who create great products but do so ethically. One of those businesses is The Tree Kisser.

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The Tree Kisser is a charitable clothing line, part of the proceeds of each sale go towards helping different charitable causes. Jessica is nice enough to send these notes telling you how much your purchase helped. That’s a big difference from just buying a shirt from Forever 21, am I right?

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(This picture was taken in Okinawa with my good friends Carola and Naoko, buying vegan cookies supporting “We Love Okinawa’s Neko”, a small group of people helping the huge amount of stray cats in Okinawa get food, medical care, and homes.)

Without further babbling, I give you my interview questions and Jessica’s wonderful answers.

Q: What prompted your decision to start The Tree Kisser clothing line? Has it always been a dream of yours?

A:The clothing line honestly started on a bit of a whim. Last July, my uncle tragically and unexpectedly passed away, leaving the software company he founded without a CEO. My boyfriend, Chris, who had zero software experience but a lot of knowledge about running various types of companies, offered to step in while things got back on track. This meant both of us stopping work on the various projects we had going in California and moving to my hometown of Denver for six months. Chris was working 24/7 on the software company, so I was spending my days alone, feeling a bit directionless. I spent a lot of time writing for my blog and working on activism through social media. I was growing an Instagram following and gaining the opportunity to discuss important issues, but I was really craving an actual project. For quite a while, I’d been dissatisfied with a lot of “message apparel” out there, feeling much of it was either too aggressive for my style or too unfashionable. I’ve always had a desire to make activism (whether it be for animals, humans, or the environment) “cool”, for lack of a better word, and at some point I realized creating my own clothing line was the perfect opportunity. As soon as I started brainstorming and planning, I was hooked.

Q: Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?

A: So many places. Honestly (I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this in writing), I had consumed quite a few glasses of wine the night I came up with the “Kale-Afornia Girls” concept. I was riding home (with a designated driver, of course!) from my boyfriend’s office party, and I just said it out loud. Everyone in the car loved it, so that’s how I chose my first design! My most popular design since the beginning has been “Animals Are Not Fabric.” I’d come up with it and been using it as a hashtag on Instagram for quite a while, because I just really liked its bluntness. During a late night brainstorming session, it was my brother who actually came up with “Wear Pink Not Mink”!

I use the Notes app on my computer and my phone to write down ideas as I have them. If I’m unsure of an idea, I can look back on it weeks or months later with fresh eyes. It’s hard to know which ideas will connect with people and which won’t. I actually didn’t think “Animals Are Not Fabric” would do very well, and I thought “Wake Me When Jon Stewart Is President” would sell out immediately. I was very wrong in both cases. I just try to remind myself to design for me, not for what I think other people will like, because that’s the only way to keep it fun.

Q: Part of the profits from your line goes towards charity, are there any charitable causes that are especially important to you?

A: I could go on for pages about all the incredible non-profits I respect. It’s so hard for me to choose which organizations to donate to, because there are so many in need and so many doing exceptional work. I’ve been involved in animal activism for about seven years now, and one of the rewards is having had the opportunity to meet so many inspirational, selfless, creative people on the front lines of animal advocacy. I just tried so many times to start a sentence with “the cause most important to me personally is,” but I really can’t choose one! I’m passionate about any organization that spreads awareness about factory farming, that coordinates protests against exploitative companies, that facilitates rescues from shelters, the provides plant-based foods to homeless animals and/or humans, or basically that works to combat society’s institutionalized animal abuse in any way! Every organization I’ve been able to donate to through The Tree Kisser (the full list is here: lipanimalfund.wordpress.com) deserves all the support in the world.

Q: You yourself are vegan, is your line 100% vegan as well?

A: The materials used in my production and shipping are absolutely all plant-based, cruelty-free, and as environmentally friendly as possible, but I shy away from using the word “vegan” to describe almost anything these days! Not because I have any problem with the concept of abstaining from animal exploitation, of course, but mostly because I worry that people who aren’t vegan might assume I have nothing to offer them. On the contrary, I have some designs that have absolutely nothing to do with animals or even activism at all, but they do still generate donations for the non-profits I work with. I’m actually in the process of writing an excruciatingly long blog post about all my thoughts on the word “vegan”; hopefully I’ll finish that up within the month!

Q: What has been the best part of the process of starting your line?

A: I’ve had a lot of “life plans” and started a couple businesses in the past, and the only consistent theme among them is that I’ve always wanted to do something I enjoy that simultaneously helps others. I’m so thrilled that I’ve found a way to do this. The absolute best moments come at the end of each fundraising session, when I get to tally up the donations and give them to an organization I respect. I get giddy every time I click that “send” button!

Q: Is running a small business like yours stressful at times, and do you feel it’s worth it?

A: I’m someone who unfortunately gets stressed very easily, so yes. I have an irrational fear of upsetting people, so despite the fact that I’ve only had one or maybe two vocally unhappy customers out of the thousands of orders I’ve sent out, I’m constantly worried about letting people down. There are definitely days when everything seems to pile up at once- I have 50 orders to send out, I accidentally miscount the inventory and sell someone a shirt I don’t have in stock, I run out of packing tape 30 minutes before the post office closes, I get a letter in the mail reminding me my state taxes are overdue, etc. In times like these, I am SO grateful that my business has a greater purpose than just the bottom line. If it were just for my personal profit, there’s no way I would get through the tough times. When I need a pick me up, I just think about the non-profit I’m fundraising for and remind myself that each order I’m working on, regardless of how complicated it might be, is generating a donation that will impact the lives of exploited or abandoned animals. Picturing the face of a death row shelter dog who will be rescued thanks to money I send that pays his adoption fee helps me get over my temporary, silly problems pretty fast!

Q: What are your hopes for the future of your business? Any plans to go into retail?

A: I’m in a really exciting time right now as I’m preparing to launch my new designs that, for the first time, are being printed on garments specifically manufactured for me in a factory in LA! Previously, I was printing on garments purchased wholesale from other suppliers, which meant I had to choose from their colors and their specific garment styles. I’m able to have much more creative control over the process now, which is huge for me. I definitely plan to start working with retailers now! I’ve had a lot of lovely people approach me over the past year, but until this step I wasn’t really ready. I still have so much to learn about this industry, but the education process is a rewarding adventure.

As for the longterm future, my answer to this question changes by the day. I have so much fun with what I’m doing right now, but I definitely want to branch out into more. I didn’t grow up with a passion for fashion design, I grew up with a passion for making the world a better, more compassionate place for human and non-human animals. The clothing line is how I’m choosing to do that right now, but I absolutely have other ideas in the works!

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(Photo of my good friend Erika at an Animal Sanctuary wearing one of her many shirts from The Tree Kisser)

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed the post. A big thank you to Jessica Schlueter for taking time to answer my questions and for making such an awesome clothing line, plus setting the example for what small businesses should be. Her new line just debuted, which you can check out at her website http://www.thetreekisser.com.

Also a big thank you to my friend Erika, who is the reason I originally found out about The Tree Kisser! Thank you for letting me use your photo Erika!
You can find Erika on Instagram, @peacelovevegan.

And lastly, thank you to my readers, whoever you people are! I am thankful for you and for this blog that I get to share with you! 🙂

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Chickpea, Mushroom & Wild Rice Soup

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I love soup in the winter. I also love it in spring or summer. I’m a huge soup fan. I used to eat at panera bread really often and order the “you pick two” with a bacon turkey bravo and a bowl of the chicken and wild rice soup. Then I moved to Okinawa, went vegan, and making a veganized version has been on my to-do list. So the other day when my husband offered to make dinner, I have him a list of instructions and ingredients and sent him off to do the dirty work. The end result? Magic. In my opinion this is better than the panera bread soup. It certainly has more nutritional value, and no animals were harmed! Take notes, Panera Bread!

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Ingredients
4 cups of vegetable broth
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 &1/2 cups mushrooms, halved
1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil

3/4 cup of cashews
1 cup of water (seperate from boiling water)

1 14 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup of cooked wild rice

Instructions:
Firstly, cook your rice according to the package instructions. I personally used Bobs red mill wild & brown rice mix.

Next, lightly sauté the carrots and celery in the oil for about five minutes. Then add the broth, seasonings and the rest of the veggies. Leave it to cook on medium heat.

While the soup is cooking, add your cashews to a small pot full of water and boil for about 20 minutes. After the time is up, strain the nuts and add them to a blender with 1 cup of water. Once the mixture is smooth, add it to the soup.

Add the rice and chickpeas to the soup and heat through. Serve immediately. I recommend eating this with some garlic bread. Enjoy!

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Bang Bang Cauliflower

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This week I’ve been experimenting with cauliflower, AKA Broccolis albino cousin. I’d heard of people making a vegan version of Bang Bang Shrimp with it, and had to see if it loved up to the name. I grew up a stones throw from bonefish grill. My brother used to work there. I can’t remember the first time I had Bang Bang Shrimp, but I remember the last time. A friend/coworker and I used to go almost every Wednesday after work. We’d grab some bang bang, complain about the crazy people who yelled at us on the phone, and talk about our favorite moments of the day. All while enjoying an ingenious dish that will never really be 100% duplicated vegan-style. Now we are both vegan, and Bang Bang cauliflower is as close to the real deal as we get. And it is darn good! So, in her honor, here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

Fried Cauliflower:
4 tablespoons arrowroot starch (or cornstarch)
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 flax “eggs” (2 TBS flax meal, 6 TBS water)
1/2 head cauliflower

Coconut oil, for frying

Sauce:
1/4 cup vegan mayo or cashew cream
1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons diced green onion

Directions:
Cut cauliflower into bite sized florets.

Set up your dipping system. One bowl with the flax egg, one bowl with the starch, then the last bowl containing the Panko mixed with the rest of the dry ingredients.

Roll each piece in corn starch, then shake off the excess. Dip each piece in the flax egg. Then in the Panko mixture. Make sure all the pieces are evenly coated with each mixture.

Fry two pieces at a time in a small pot of coconut oil on medium heat.

Mix all sauce ingredients together. You can either toss the cauliflower in the sauce immediately before serving or leave it on the side. Either way it’s darn good! Enjoy!

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Thai red curry with vermicelli noodkes

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This year for my birthday my good friend Kiwa gave me thai red curry pastes. I had been looking all over for a fish-free red curry paste with no luck, so I was very thankful to get these from her. I love Thai curry. It has so many complex flavors and spices, and I think of it as comfort food. Especially when you add vermicelli noodles, which add the perfect texture to this soup. You should be able to find vermicelli noodles and red curry paste at your local store in the ethnic section, or at a specialty Asian foods market.

Ingredients:
4 cups veggie broth
1 cup canned coconut milk
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced in half
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon agave nectar, honey or brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 ounces vermicelli noodles
1 tablespoon turmeric powder (optional)
1/2 cup drained, pressed, cubed tofu (optional)

Optional toppings: cilantro, lemon zest, sliced jalapeño, green onions, bean sprouts

Instructions:
Add all ingredients (except the noodles) to a large soup pot. Bring to medium high heat and let simmer for about fifteen minutes. Add the vermicelli noodles and heat through. They will take about five minutes to cook through.

Serve as soon as the noodles are done. Top with whatever suits your fancy. I like cilantro and green onion on mine. Enjoy!

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