Arugula “Chowder”

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This is one of the most unexpectedly delicious soups I have ever eaten, and I want to eat it now on a daily basis. As usual, not a pretty photo (sorry), but it tastes soooooo good! My husband said that, to him, it tasted like a cross between a cream of mushroom soup (which is bizarre, because there are no mushrooms) and a really amazing clam chowder (which is even more bizarre, given the complete absence of anything clam-like). I just know that it was so good, it disappeared all in one meal. (And there was a LOT of soup in that pot).

I got the recipe from the wonderful Detoxinista, Megan, and if you want to use her original recipe, which is probably a good idea in terms of getting a more predictable outcome, click here. Mine is, as usual, modified based on what we had on hand plus our personal taste.

The photo above is of my husband’s bowl, to which he added some pasta so that he would have more to chew. I ate mine without pasta. We both cleaned our bowls enthusiastically.

Here is my modified version of the Detoxinista’s fantastic recipe:

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion (chopped)
3 stalks celery (chopped)
6 cloves garlic (minced)

4 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes (chopped)
4 cups veggie broth
1 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt

6 cups fresh arugula
1 can coconut milk

INSTRUCTIONS:

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then saute the onions, celery, and garlic for about 6-8 minutes, until translucent.

Add chopped potatoes, veggie broth, and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender.

Add arugula to the pot and stir until bright green, for about 3 minutes.

Transfer half of the soup mixture to a blender, along with the coconut milk. Blend until creamy, then pour back into the pot with the remaining soup and stir.

Add additional salt and/or black pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

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Perfect Baked Potatoes (with homemade vegan cheese sauce)

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Introducing my new favorite “cheese” sauce, with no nuts or nutritional yeast! Don’t get me wrong, I love my cashew-based sauces, and I adore nutritional yeast. But it’s always nice to have other options, especially for people with allergies or aversions.

This isn’t the first cheese sauce I’ve made using potatoes and carrots as a base. There’s an earlier version in my Cheesy Twice-Baked Potatoes post which is also yummy. However, that one has cashews (potential allergen) and vegan margarine (processed food), so I think it’s worth sharing this one, too. This one is clean and simple. My new best friend.

I found this recipe for Life-Changing Vegan Cheese Sauce on Gin’s Eat Healthy, Eat Happy, Eat What You Like blog. And for once, I didn’t change a thing! I made it exactly as she suggested. Here’s the recipe (and there are additional baked-potato-related recipes below it, so don’t forget to scroll all the way down):

WHOLE-FOODS-BASED VEGAN CHEESE SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups potato (peeled and diced) (I used 1 large Yukon Gold potato)
  • 1 large carrot (peeled and diced)
  • 4 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (smoked or regular)
  • 4 tsp mustard (I used Dijon)
  • 1 tsp tamari

Directions:

Combine the potato and carrot in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.

Drain and transfer to a food processor or power blender.

Add all of the other ingredients to the food processor and process for about 2 minutes, or until totally smooth.

Serve over veggies, potatoes, pasta, whatever you like… my husband even suggested using this as a nacho sauce with tortilla chips!

BAKED POTATO

My favorite way to make baked potatoes is simple. It results in a crispy, salty outer skin that even my 6-year-old loves to eat:

  1. Preheat oven to about 400 degrees F (425 degrees if you’re in a hurry).
  2. Wash/scrub potatoes clean (I like to use large russet potatoes).
  3. Poke about 9-12 sets of fork holes into each potato (evenly spaced).
  4. Drizzle olive oil onto each potato, and coat the skin evenly (I rub it in with my hands).
  5. Sprinkle sea salt evenly onto each potato (again, I use my hands to rub it in).
  6. Place onto a metal baking sheet (do NOT wrap in tin foil or cover in any way!).
  7. Bake for 1 hour, then test by inserting a knife into the center of each potato. If the knife goes in easily, your potatoes are done. If there is resistance, bake for another 10 minutes, then check again. Repeat this as needed until your potatoes are done.
  8. Remove from oven, and make a vertical slice down the top center of your potato.
  9. Place your thumb at one end of the potato, and your other fingers at the other end, then squeeze together to open up your potato and make a yummy place to insert all of your toppings.

OPTIONAL TOPPINGS

Here are some toppings my family loves to add to our baked potatoes:

  • steamed broccoli
  • “cheese” sauce
  • vegan bacon bits
  • fresh chives
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • vegan margarine or olive oil
  • homemade vegan sour cream

VEGAN SOUR CREAM

My favorite go-to recipe for sour cream is to dump the following ingredients into a high-powered blender and mix until creamy:

1 cup cashews (no need to pre-soak)
3/4 cup filtered water
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
juice from 1 small lemon (I have a Vitamix, so I am lazy and just peel my lemon and drop it in whole rather than juicing it)

Enjoy!!

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Smokehouse Chickpeas & Greens Salad

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Oh, wow. The first time I made this salad was about a week ago, and we’ve already had it three times since then. It is so popular that I had to double the recipe just to keep people from rioting when there were no second or third helpings available. As usual, my photo doesn’t do it justice. But trust me. This is worth making!!!

It is ridiculous that such a plate-licking-good BBQ sauce can be whisked together in less than 2 minutes with so few ingredients. My family wants to put this sauce on everything now. Everything.

My version is ever-so-slightly adapted from the recipe in this amaaaazing cookbook by Terry Hope Romero, Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Healthy, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Love. (We tripled the sauce recipe, for example). I highly recommend adding this to your cookbook collection, if you don’t have it already!

SMOKEHOUSE CHICKPEAS & GREENS SALAD

Ingredients:

Roasted Chickpeas
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 (14 oz) cans chickpeas

Smokehouse BBQ Sauce
3 Tbsp tamari
3 rounded Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp maple syrup
3 tsp liquid smoke (Terry recommends hickory, but we only have mesquite on hand, and it tastes delicious in this recipe, so I’d say you’re safe with either)

4 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional: it’s yummy with or without)

Salad
(at least) 6 cups baby spinach (or use 3 cups spinach + 3 cups arugula – yum!!)
(at least) 1 pint cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
1 big, ripe avocado (diced) (not pictured here, but it does make a lovely addition)
(optional add-ins: thinly sliced red onion, julienned carrots, etc.)

Smoked Paprika Dressing
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp maple syrup
3 tsp paprika (smoked sweet or hot)
1 tsp smoked salt (or Himalayan salt)

Directions:

Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, then pour in the olive oil and tilt the pan to coat the bottom. Add chickpeas and fry for about 6 minutes, or until golden.

Whisk together the tamari, tomato paste, maple syrup, and liquid smoke. Pour over the chickpeas, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, wash, spin dry, and tear the greens into bite-sized pieces. Add to a large bowl with tomatoes and other veggies.

Whisk together apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic, maple syrup, paprika, and salt, then pour over the salad and toss to coat all veggies.

Divide greens and veggies evenly among serving bowls/plates.

If you like nutritional yeast (I love it, but some in my family don’t), sprinkle it over the warm chickpeas and stir to coat.

Top the salad with chickpeas and a twist of freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

Enjoy!

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Summer Squash Curry Stew

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What a huge crowd-pleaser!! I made this stew for last night’s dinner, and I have been asked multiple times by all family members (including the dog, who got a tiny taste) to repeat it, so I figure it’s definitely worth sharing.

My version was adapted from this yummy recipe, compliments of Lighter, my favorite plant-based meal prep/planning resource. Thank you, Alexis, Micah, and team for this mouth-wateringly delicious recipe! We’ll be enjoying it for years to come.

And wanta know the best part? It makes enough for leftovers, and I am eating a bowl for my lunch as I type this blog post (hence the ugly photo above, which was taken as an after-thought about 4 spoonfuls in).🙂

SUMMER SQUASH CURRY STEW

Ingredients:

2 organic garnet yams (peeled and diced into small cubes)
2 organic yellow squashes (quartered and diced)
2 small organic eggplants (quartered and diced)
1 (10 oz) bag frozen organic cut green beans (couldn’t find fresh at the store)
1 cup organic red lentils

1/4 cup organic garlic (minced)
2 Tbsp organic coconut oil

1 can organic coconut milk
4 cups vegan “chicken” broth
3 tsp organic curry powder
2 tsp organic ginger
1 tsp organic cumin
1 tsp organic coriander
1 tsp Himalayan salt

Directions:

Saute minced garlic in coconut oil until translucent, then add yams.

Stir together well, then add vegan “chicken” broth and coconut milk, along with curry powder, ginger, cumin, coriander, and salt.

Next, add squash, eggplant, green beans, and lentils. Stir well, and simmer for about 20 minutes (longer if you cut your veggies into larger pieces) until veggies and lentils are soft.

Optional: Serve with warm rice or quinoa.

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Pumpkin Butter, Caribbean Pumpkin-Coconut Soup, and Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

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Last weekend, we went to the pumpkin patch at Bella Organic Farm on Sauvie Island. We came home super-muddy, but with organic pumpkins of all shapes, colors, and sizes! Here are our favorite pumpkin recipes from this week.

It all started with a generous batch of PUMPKIN BUTTER–enough for us and our neighbors. (It warmed my heart to send Zander next door to excitedly deliver the jars he had helped to prepare). We love and always use this recipe from Oh She Glows.

Next came the ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS. Again, thank you Angela Liddon for this great recipe. I always used to scorch my seeds before cooking them this way.

After making the pumpkin butter, we had some leftover roasted pumpkin to use up, and we are taking a break from pumpkin muffins (we have eaten a lot of those lately), so we decided to make a soup.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but it rivaled the “lick-your-bowl-clean” soup we made recently with the last of our summer squash! Here is the recipe, modified slightly from the original, which I found in one of my favorite staple cookbooks, Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes, by Devra Gartenstein.

CARIBBEAN PUMPKIN-COCONUT SOUP

Ingredients:

2 pounds kabocha pumpkin or winter squash (I used roasted sugar pumpkin)
8 cups vegetable stock or water (I used veggie “chicken” broth)
2 leeks, cut in half lengthwise, cleaned, and chopped (omitted, because we had none)
2 chiles (mild or hot), diced (I used about 2-3 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes)
4 cloves garlic, minced (I used about 3/4 cup of garlic, because we love garlic)
1 tsp Himalayan salt
1 bunch collard greens (4 to 6 leaves), cut into thin strips (I doubled this!!)
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp ground allspice

Instructions:

Cut the pumpkin in half top to bottom and remove the seeds. Roast or steam until very soft. (Ours was already done–we had previously roasted it in the oven).

Here’s where my instructions start to vary a lot… Rather than write both sets, I’m just going to tell you what I did.

Saute the minced garlic, Himalayan salt, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, and allspice in coconut oil until garlic is soft. Add vegetable stock and collard greens. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While simmering, mix the pumpkin flesh with coconut milk in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. Try to resist eating it straight from the blender. Add to broth and greens at the end of the 15-20 minutes, when the collard greens are nice and soft.

Stir in the lime juice, then dish into bowls. If you haven’t eaten them all by now, I highly recommend tossing a handful of crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds on top of each bowl of soup for added texture.

Enjoy!

Now, it’s time to get to work on our carving pumpkins…🙂

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Goodbye, Disposable Tissues!

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Huge thanks to Kathy Peterman for her Monday Minimalist Tips, which I love!

Now we have small pails full of clean handkerchiefs placed throughout our home where the tissue boxes used to be. Such a simple idea, and very easy to implement. I keep asking myself, “Why didn’t I think of this??”

Also, Kathy was right; hankies are much softer and friendlier on your nose, as well as on the environment. Everyone wins! I love a happy ending.🙂

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“Lick-Your-Bowl-Clean Soup,” aka Summer Squash Soup with Tofu Croutons

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On several occasions this summer, thanks to our wildly productive plot at the community garden, we found ourselves in possession of more summer squash than we knew what to do with. That is, until we discovered this recipe, which has become a new staple in our home.

So cherished, in fact, that it is lovingly referred to by all as the “lick-your-bowl-clean soup.” And we never get tired of eating it, no matter how much squash our garden throws our way.

How can such a simple soup be so luxuriously rich and tasty? I have no idea, but it is. I found the original recipe in a friend’s cookbook (Super Natural Every Day, by Heidi Swanson), and then I modified it to suit my family’s taste buds.

Below is how to make my modified version:

LICK-YOUR-BOWL-CLEAN SUMMER SQUASH SOUP WITH TOFU CROUTONS

Ingredients (Soup):
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh garlic cloves (about 16 cloves)
3 Tbsp olive oil
5-10 yellow summer squash (and/or zucchini), unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch half moon slices
2-4 yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into tiny cubes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
1 (4 oz) jar red Thai curry paste
1 tsp Himalayan salt (plus more, if needed)
1-2 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp cumin

Ingredients (Tofu Croutons):
1 (8 oz) pack of extra firm tofu
2 Tbsp olive oil
Himalayan salt and black pepper

Instructions (Soup):

Saute garlic, red Thai curry paste, and salt in olive oil until garlic becomes soft.

Stir in squash and potatoes, then add vegetable broth, coconut milk, red pepper flakes, tamari, and cumin.

Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes (stirring occasionally) until the potatoes are tender.

Instructions (Tofu Croutons):

Squeeze excess water out of tofu, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes (or triangles).

Toss gently in a large bowl to coat with olive oil, salt, and black pepper, then cook one of two ways:

(a) pan sear in a large cast-iron skillet until all sides are firm and golden brown (pictured at top),

or, my favorite because it’s the lazy way and you can do other things while the tofu is cooking…

(b) spread out coated tofu pieces on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes on one side, then flip and bake for 10-20 minutes on the other side, until desired level of brownness and crunch has been achieved (see photo below).

Just before serving, toss a handful of tofu croutons on top of your bowl of soup, and enjoy!

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Beet Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing

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About a month ago, we spent the afternoon in Hood River, where we stumbled upon the most delicious salad at the Farm Stand Deli. It was so good that we wound up ordering another one on the spot, and at least one of us (ahem, Zander) literally licked the plate clean.

Luckily, this was an incredibly simple salad to recreate!

We ate it for dinner again tonight, for the umpteenth time since we first discovered it, and it never fails to satisfy. Zander polished off his entire plate, then ate about 1/3 of mine. Any time a salad is this popular with a 5-year-old, I figure it is worth sharing.

Here’s how to make it:

BEET SALAD WITH CREAMY DILL DRESSING

Ingredients (Salad):
1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces
3-5 medium-sized beets, roasted or boiled, then peeled and sliced (we’ve also made it with golden beets, which is equally yummy, or with a mix of red and golden for extra color)
a generous sprinkling of hemp seeds
a handful of roasted hazelnuts

Ingredients (Creamy Dill Dressing):
1 cup raw cashews (no need to soak)
juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves garlic
1-2 Tbsp dried dill (or 2-3 Tbsp fresh dill)
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 to 1 1/2 cups water (start with 1 cup and add more as needed, to achieve desired consistency)

Instructions:
For the salad dressing, combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Then assemble your salad, drizzle the dressing on top, and devour!

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Homemade Cashew Milk

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CASHEW MILK

Ingredients:

1 cup raw organic cashew pieces (soaked in water for approximately 6 hours, then drained)
6 cups filtered water
2 tsp liquid sunflower lecithin (optional—keeps milk from separating in fridge, makes it creamier, and has additional health benefits) (NOTE: the line in this photo is due to foam from a freshly poured batch, not separation of the nutmilk and water)

Instructions:

I am completely in love with this recipe, because it does not require any nut milk bags or straining of pulp!

The cashews just seem to disappear into the milk. Zero hassle! Effortless clean-up!

Just toss all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender, blend well, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. I love the one pictured above, which is hermetically sealed and is the perfect size for one batch of cashew milk—and no, I’m not affiliated in any way.

If you prefer a sweeter milk, you could add a bit of maple syrup or toss in some dates or use another sweetener of choice. You could also add a Tbsp or two of vanilla extract if you want. But my family loves it with just the three ingredients mentioned above.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Vanilla Extract

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It’s time to start thinking about the holidays! That is, if you’d like to surprise your friends, co-workers, neighbors, teachers, or loved ones with a gift of homemade vanilla extract.

Zander and I got a late start on this last year, and although we had planned to give these as holiday gifts (locally—I don’t think they’d ship well), the vanilla wasn’t quite ready in time. Then we moved from California to Oregon, which sort of threw a wrench into things, and I was too busy unpacking to even think about finding the labels or bottling the vanilla.

What’s really great about this situation (always a silver lining) is that we wound up with an extraordinary batch of scrumptious vanilla extract that had been infusing for 9 months. And now I am thinking of starting another batch. Immediately. Because it only made enough to fill 10 bottles, and we don’t want to give any of it away. That is how good this vanilla is. It makes you feel greedy.

Always my trusty helper in the kitchen, Zander helped me to make this super-simple recipe. He even went with me to the liquor store in search of organic vodka, which I will admit felt more than a little bit awkward (as I walked to the register with two huge bottles of vodka and my 4-year-old son, announcing loudly, repeatedly, and yes, somewhat defensively that this was for our homemade vanilla).

Anyway, here is how we made it:

HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT

Ingredients:

2 (750 ml) bottles certified organic vodka
50 organic Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans, ends trimmed

Optional Supplies:

10-12 (4 oz) amber bottles
Avery square Kraft Brown labels (#22846) (or another label of your choice)

Instructions:

  1. Trim the ends off of your vanilla beans (save them in an airtight jar to toss into smoothies, homemade ice creams, etc.). Enjoy the delicious smell!

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2. Place the vanilla beans into a 64 oz wide-mouth glass jar, then pour in both bottles of vodka and tightly secure the lid.

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3. Optional: Make note of your start date on the lid (or elsewhere on the jar).

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4. Shake vigorously.

5. Store in a cool, dark place (I kept mine in the kitchen cabinet).

6. Once a week, pull out the jar and give it a good shake. (I did this for the first month or two, but honestly, after that, I pretty much forgot all about the vanilla, and it just sat there, untouched).

7. Within a few months, your vodka will no longer be clear. It will look like… vanilla!

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8. After 3-4 months, or (ahem) slightly longer, your vanilla extract is ready to bottle!

9. I used the Avery online template to create my custom labels, printed a sample on plain paper first to be sure I liked them, and then printed a full sheet of labels.

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10. Use a funnel to ensure that you do not spill even one precious drop of your vanilla extract. I poured mine from the mason jar into a large glass measuring cup, and then from the measuring cup through the funnel, so that I would have better control of the process.

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11. When you are done, wipe the bottles with a dry towel just in case there were any spills you didn’t notice, then screw on the lids and apply your custom labels and maybe a bit of raffia or ribbon.

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As you can see, I couldn’t decide what kind of raffia/ribbon to use, and in the end, I think I may prefer just the clean, plain bottle with nothing attached. That’s probably because I’m not very good at tying pretty bows.

This batch wound up filling exactly 10 bottles, but I think it would have been more like 12 bottles if I hadn’t been sneaking vanilla straight from the jar for the last several weeks to make massive quantities of chia pudding

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If you get started by the end of this month, you’ll have a delicious batch ready in time for the 2015 holiday season. Or plenty of vanilla for your own consumption. Your choice. Either way, enjoy!

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