Wednesday, November 30, 2011

master of the sprouts

I have a confession to make. I love brussels sprouts. Ok, that' t not the confession. I'm a little ashamed to say that until now, I had never cooked my own brussels sprouts. I think I tried a while back but they never came out nearly as good as my moms, which are a spin-off of the Whole Foods prepared brussels. If you have never had them, let me tell you that these things are better than candy and are HIGHLY addictive. They manage to make them perfectly charred and crunchy on the outside yet mushy melty in your mouth on the inside. I have a feeling that their technique may involve 20lbs of oil and 2 tons of salt, but I like to think that they taste so good because of the love and effort involved in the slow, attentive roasting process. But I'm pretty sure its because the pint I indulge in sparingly contains the caloric intake of entire days worth of food.

Enough rambling about my gluttonous cruciferous'. So when I found a whole branch? of organic brussels for only $2 at the farmers market, I couldn't turn them down. While I was tempted to bring them over to my moms apartment as a gift/ beg her to cook them up for me, I decided to give it a go on my own.

I began by plucking each sprout and then slicing them in half. Then I placed them in my fun confetti bowl and gave them a nice rinse.
I then heated a bit of coconut oil in a pan and placed the brussels, cut side down, in it. I let them char there for a bit. I really wanted to get that yummy burnt affect they have going on with the Whole Foods variety, just minus all the yucky useless fats from oxidized, cheap oils. A sprinkle of himalayan salt helped them cook down without adding oil. While these babies were crisping away, I made a little dressing from:
2T Apple Cider Vinegar
2T Maple Syrup
2 T Dijon Mustard
After about 5-7 minutes, I poured the dressing over the brussels and let it cook into them for an additional two minutes. Make sure to mix well so that it gets evenly distributed.

Oh my god. So freaking good! I could have eaten a whole pound of these things. No really, I could, and not have to worry about my cholesterol levels skyrocketing!
Lesson learned: Don't be intimidated by recipes you think are too good to tackle. Instead, get inspired by them and pull from them ideas and make them your own.

simplicity is bliss*

Sometimes when things get a little hectic (or a lot hectic) you just need something that is simple and comforting....
Steamed bok choi with a drizzle of umeboshi plum vinegar//
kombocha squash with onions and a pinch of salt. Thats all :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

all wrapped up

Although I have been enjoying my daily kale salad for lunch, sometimes you just need to shake things up, ya know? So today when I went to pick up some ingredients at the farmers market, I was inspired by these gorgeous collards, to make collard wraps! The ingredients are things that I generally eat for lunch anyway, but instead of shredding and mixing together, I've wrapped them all up in a green collard.

My wrap included:
1 collard leaf
1/2 an avocado
1/2 an heirloom tomato (which my farmer friend assured me for the third week in a row that these are really the last tomatoes of the season)
a handful of sprouts
fresh herbs (I used dill because I'm totally on a dill kick!)

I dressed this bundle of simplicity up with a splash of Braggs and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper*
To turn this from a pile of veggies into a wrap, just fold the top and the bottom of the collard towards the center, then fold the right side over and then roll tightly, burrito style. Place the the wrap, folded side down, on a plate. With a clean, sharp knife, slice through the middle on a diagonal. Ooo la la fancy you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tai-spied Korean scallion pancake

A while back I posted about some scallion-pancake type things I created in a moment of desperation and inspiration. While they were pretty delicious, there were no real measurements, limitations to ingredients (when are there ever?) and they could have used a little work in the texture department. Then I discovered Maangchi. Her recipe for Panjeon (and freakin' adorable video*) got me craving this doughy-scallion concoction all over again.

I would love to forage in the park with this lady.

The first change to my recipe I needed to make was to use a grain flour rather than the whole grain. This would instantly solve solve my textural problem and also eliminate the need for any binder (a.k.a flax egg). I chose to use oat flour because I really liked the taste of oats mixed with the scallions last time I made these. You could also use brown rice, chickpea or whole wheat flour if happen to have those. I like that Maangchi used miso paste instead of salt to add flavor. However, when you boil miso paste or put it under high heat, it looses all the nutritional properties it contains do to fermentation. Boiling the miso paste kills all the useful bacteria. I decided to add some miso paste to the dipping sauce instead, in order to keep the beneficial properties intact. I also altered the original recipe by adding lots of hot peppers to the mix. I've been trying to incorporate a new spice into one meal a day. Today it was a handful of Tai cayenne peppers for a kick of color and heat tossed in!
Tai Cayenne Peppers

Scallion Pancakes:
1 bunch of fresh scallions (a.k.a green onions)
1/2c oat flour (or any flour you like)
1/2c water
pinch of salt
Tai cayenne peppers (optional and to taste!)

Begin by placing 1/2 cup rolled oats into a blender and pulse until it turns into a flour consistency. Add any fresh herbs you like to the flour mix (cayenne peppers in my case) and a pinch of sea salt. Get your pan ready by putting the flame on high heat.
Add oil of choice (I used olive oil spray) and then add your scallions. Saute for a few minutes until they begin to brown and soften a bit.
Then add the water to the flour, wisk together and pour over the scallions. Make sure to keep the mixture moving so that it spreads evenly. Keep pressing the batter down with a spatula so that it seeps through the cracks and reaches the bottom of the pan. Once it crisps up a bit, flip it so that its scallion side up. Continue to press the pancake down onto the pan and flip every so often until it is crispy and brown. Serve with some spicy lime dipping sauce (see recipe below).

These ended up being a completely different kind of pancake, but absolutely delicious! And I'm also happy I got to incorporate another type of hot pepper ;)) You could totally add in any extra veggies (like I did last time) but I like the simplicity of this dish. I served mine up with some steamed broccoli for some extra green goodness! It tasted really great with the dipping sauce too (which I obviously poured all over everything)

Dipping sauce:
2T Braggs Liquid Aminos
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1t miso paste
1t raw honey (optional, but if you do use, try to get the good stuff-local, raw, creamed ;)
1 garlic clove
sesame seeds
1t daikon, grated (optional-buuut it helps to cut the fat of fried food :)
chili pepper flakes (optional)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

world vegan day

I'm in a super festive mood today because not only was yesterday Halloween, today is World Vegan Day (the 67th anniversary of the term "vegan") and also the two year anniversary of me following a vegan lifestyle wooo!! All this definitely calls for celebration...a giant vegan lower-back tattoo perhaps? Ummm I think I'll try a less permanent and painful means of commemorating this awesome day by reflecting a bit on why I chose a vegan diet and why I've stuck with it.

I don't remember the exact day I "officially became a vegan" but I do remember visiting my best friend at her college for Halloween weekend and even though it was definitely an inconvenience to find options in her cafeteria or the small college town she lived in, I distinctly remember not making any exceptions. One of the biggest struggles of becoming vegan was feeling like an inconvenience when it came to feeding time. From family dinners, staying with friends and even going out on a date, I often found myself apologizing for my restrictions. Over the past two years I've learned to stop feeling sorry and started sharing all the information and food I have learned since begging this journey. Pretty much everyone I approach with confidence (and samples!) has been extremely receptive and appreciative. All of my roommates have adopted a vegan diet for the most part and the craziest thing is- I never once asked any of them to even try to go vegan. Keep your cheese in fridge, have an egg in the morning, I don't mind. But I think (and what I've been told) is that by simply observing how simple (and inexpensive!) it is to be vegan and healthy and thus reap all the amazing benefits, making the switch to a vegan lifestyle ends up being the obvious reaction.

For me, I started dabbling in veganism when I moved back to New York from Southern California (ironically enough) and was living on my own rather than in a dorm or with my mom. I had the opportunity for a fresh start and complete control over what I would fill my refrigerator and stock my cabinets with. I have always had an interest in health but at this time I also became increasingly interested in food politics and veganism seemed to be the answer to my search for the most ethical, environmentally sound and most importantly, healthy lifestyle choice.

a glimpse at my pantry- what more could you need?