Monday, September 8, 2014

Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Chili #SecretRecipeClub


OK, so it might be a tad bit early for a hearty chili recipe, but come on Fall.  I know you're out there.  It's not that I don't love you, Summer, but this year has been a bit unusual, as I spent more time in the kitchen cooking, than laying on the beach soaking up the sunshine.

And so here we are in September (I know!), at another Secret Recipe Club reveal time.  And this month I was assigned to Tracy over at Pale Yellow.  Tracy has such a fun blog.  Science teacher by day, blogger by night, and she even has two turtles. Seriously, how cute it that.

So, as I perused her recipe index, I was drawn in by many, including her Irish Cream, Key Lime Cheesecakes, and Onion Jam Pizza (and did I mention these are all vegan recipes!)  But, I opted for this delicious looking (and sounding) chili.  And it was a huge hit in our home, tonight. 

It was actually perfect, as it was a bit dreary, and dark, and our day needed some livening up, and this chili did the trick.  But, I did make a few adjustments, because I had some things that needed to be used up, and I thought they'd work perfectly with Tracy's recipe (see her original recipe here).

First, I substituted roasted butternut squash for the pumpkin, which didn't quite add the creaminess that her original recipe offered.  But, it added a nice, deep, rich flavor, so I was happy. Then, I added a bit of berbere seasoning that I got from a Penzeys trip as a free sample, instead of the chili powder.  This offered a nice complex heat (more like a serious heat) to it all.  I also added in some fresh spinach to add some color, and sneak in a bit more vegetables.

And finally, I had a free package of Beyond Meat Beefy Crumbles (beef-free) in the freezer (from  a coupon giveaway), that I used instead of ground turkey,  And you know what?  It was amazing.  Neither of us could tell the difference in this chili (and I love that it's soy-free).  My man even asked for seconds, and asked me to "put it up," at the end of dinner... which in our house means he's wanting some leftovers.

Vegan Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Chili

1/2 butternut squash
1-2 Tblsp. olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1- 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1- 15 oz. can white beans, rinsed and drained
1- 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz. crushed tomatoes, not drained
10 oz. frozen corn, defrosted
2 oz. green chiles (I only used half the can, and was glad since I used the below berbere seasoning)
16 oz. vegetable broth (or more as needed for desired thickness)
2 tsp. dried oregano,
1/2 tsp. berbere seasoning from Penzeys (I used this instead of the chili powder, and man, was it hot, hot, hot!)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
Generous pinch of salt
2 c. fresh spinach leaves
1 pkg. beef substitute (I used Beyond Meat Beef Crumbles microwaved to warm according to the package directions)

First, prepare the butternut squash for roasting by peeling the outer skin with a vegetable peeler.  Then cut in half and remove any seeds with a spoon.  Cut into small cubes and place on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until caramelized and lightly browned.

While the squash is roasting, in a large dutch oven or stockpot, warm some olive oil and then add in the diced onion.  Cook until translucent.  Then add all the beans, tomatoes, corn, chiles, seasonings, vegetable broth, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer, adding in the spinach, the roasted squash and the prepared meat substitute, if desired (I microwaved to warm according to the package direction).  Simmer for about 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend and salt and pepper as needed. I added a bit of avocado to help cut the heat, and some chia seed crackers on the side to add a bit of crunch.

*Note- I am not working with Beyond Meat of Penzeys in any way... I simple enjoy their products, and thought they complimented the dish nicely.

And please visit my fellow bloggers' pages to see what recipes they decided to make this month!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Week 3 Matthew Kenney Raw Food Academy- Recap and a Fennel and Pea Shoot Salad with Spicy Balsamic Lime Vinaigrette Recipe

Bahain Soup

Week 3 was the most intense, yet most satisfying week... with some really challenging and delicious recipes.  I don't know if this happens to you, but in my schooling experience, when I'm learning something new, there comes a point where things just click.  And this week, it all seemed to come together in my mind. And I gained an ever greater respect and love for raw cuisine... plus it didn't hurt that this was sweets week.

Oh yes, it was one sweet week (also read about week 1 and week 2).

And I think my favorite sweets were these chocolate chip cookies.  This was hard for me to wrap my head around, as I'm a long-time chocolate chip cookie connoisseur.  But these kept us coming back again and again, despite the fact that there were no eggs... or butter... white or brown sugar... or even white flour.

Chocolate Chip Cookies 

We even made the chocolate chips.  And learned that this superfood, cacao, has 10x more antioxidant potency than blueberries, 21x more potency than green tea, and 14-30x more potency than red wine.

I love that I didn't even need fancy equipment, we just snipped off the corner of a ziplock bag and out came these chocolaty morsels.

Raw Cacao Chips

And then there were cacao truffles... covered in coconut sugar, maca powder, bee pollen, a mix of dehydrated lemon and coconut, and cacao powder.

Monday, September 1, 2014

20 Vegetarian Lunchbox Ideas for Adults- Food Bloggers Recipe Roundup


There's an undeniable excitement in the air.  And all of this back to school talk has got me in the mood to buy Hello Kitty pencil cases, bubblegum erasers, and Sergio Valente jeans... which were just as fashionable at the roller rink as on the playground, by the way.  

And don't forget grocery shopping with Mom, to stock up on Wonder bread, b-o-l-o-g-n-a, and chocolate chips for her 7-layer bars.  Yes, it was the 80's, and looking back, I'm thinking that some of those less than desirable lunchbox items were surely balanced out by our daily nutritious, homemade breakfasts and dinners.

But now, fast forwarding 30 years, I'm still wanting a fun, fast and flavorful lunch... but a little more healthy.  A little more filling.  And full of fresh veggies and whole grains.

So, today some of the best bloggers around, and I, are giving you ample ideas and beautiful vegetarian recipes to help you get motivated to make more homemade lunches. Lunches that you can take to work, or simply have ready in the fridge to help you make healthier choices, when you're busy or on the go.

Vegetarian Dish - Brown rice with lentils, cucumbers, tomatoes & feta

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Week 2 Matthew Kenney Online Raw Food Academy- Thoughts, Photos and Spicy Beet plus White on White Salad Recipes

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Kimchi Dumplings

Just half way there, and I already feel like I can confidently put a fully raw food meal on the table... for an everyday meal, or even a special occasion.  And considering I was totally inexperienced in raw food cuisine just two short weeks ago, this, is a foodie miracle. 

So, in case you haven't heard, I decided to take a four-week online raw food culinary class with Matthew Kenney's Culinary Academy out in Santa Monica (read more about week 1 here).

And there are several things that I can say have become my truths at this point... two weeks in.

Shitake Anchovies

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Week 1 Matthew Kenney Online Raw Food Academy- Thoughts, Photos and a Mango Smoothie Recipe

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Raw food cuisine is the most beautiful culinary expression of food in its purest and truest form.  As art, creativity... and mainly for health. 

To me, there's nothing more challenging, more enriching and more fun, yes, I said fun, than going to school... especially if it involves food. And especially later in life, as I've gotten so much more out of my classes now. Yes, it is never to late to find and live in your true passions... and calling.

Surfing the cookbooks on Amazon about a month ago (what else is new!), I came across one of Matthew Kenney's raw food books. I was immediately drawn in. I couldn't believe how colorful and beautiful his food is... it especially spoke to the designer in me. And after doing more research and watching his TEDx Talk, I knew I wanted to learn more. And I knew I had to learn from the best.

So, I found Chef Kenney's website and was thrilled to learn he has an online program. Now don't get me wrong, I would have loved to take the program in person (Santa Monica!)... but this online thing made it so much more cost-effective, convenient, and allowed me to start right away.

And I did. I began the program the very next week, and I've been loving every minute since.

Kale Chips

The thing I love most about this program, is that you are provided with detailed shopping lists, lessons that include videos and printable materials. Plus constant input from your instructors (even Chef Kenney), and your fellow classmates. And my classmates are from all over the world. How exciting to see the interpretations of the dishes from people with such diverse backgrounds.

And then there are the recipes. And I'm not talking your run-of-the-mill raw food recipes, but recipes so beautiful and delicious, that even the pickiest gourmet meat-eater, would be pleased... and satisfied with them.

So, our first recipe was this Beet Ravioli. And, yes, I am a serious raw beet lover now (I'd only had them roasted before... and didn't know what I was missing).

Beet Ravioli

 Followed by this Heirloom Tomato Lasagna, that made me never want to make cooked tomato sauce again.  No really... when it's made raw there's a sweetness and freshness that just can't be beat. And seriously... just look at those colors.
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