Soup in the Summer: Spicy Thai Curry

thaicurrysoupI must confess, if I could eat soup everyday for dinner I would. I am pretty sure I ate a bowl of tomato soup with noodles for dinner almost every night in college. The only problem I have with finding recipes is that generally, a lot of soups call for animal stock. I try to maintain a vegetarian diet so this isn’t super ideal, however I have found that curry and coconut milk-based soups often call for veggie stock.

Honestly, I don’t know why I made this…it’s hotter than hell outside, and this soup is spicy…but alas, there are only so many salads you can eat in the summer. It’s a nice change to pace, super hardy, and has a lot of good veggies in it. Bonus points for the fact that you can make it vegan!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2.5 tbs. minced garlic
  • 1 tbs. ginger (chopped fine)
  • 2 tbs red curry paste
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 bunch of baby bok choy
  • 4.5 c. veggie broth (or chicken if you wish)
  • 1 sweet potato (cut into chunks)
  • 1/4 c. shredded carrots
  • 13 oz. can of light coconut milk
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tbs fish sauce (optional)
  • 1/2 c. rice noodles
  • 1/4 red onion (optional garnish)
  • 1 lime (optional garnish)
  • sriracha (optional garnish)
  • sprouts (optional garnish)

Directions:

  • In a pan, on medium heat, add the oil, garlic, and red curry and cook for a few minutes until mixed.
  • In a soup pot, mix the veggie stock, ginger, sweet potatoes, carrot, red pepper flakes, and the stalk of the bok choy (chopped up, leaves separated). Add the garlic curry mix and set to boil. Once the mix has boiled for a few minutes, set to simmer until the potatoes are soft. This usually takes about 20 minutes.
  • Add brown sugar, fish sauce (if desired), and coconut milk and stir. Let simmer a few minutes.
  • Add the rice noodles to the simmering pot and allow them to cook until the noodles are soft.
  • Pour soup into a bowl and sprinkle juice from a lime wedge on top. Add sprouts, sriracha, and onion to the top and enjoy.
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Prepping Your Veggie Garden This Spring!

SINCE 1972It’s almost spring and the first signs of life are sprouting out of the ground! We always see gorgeous, fragrant hyacinths and tulips in our yard during the spring, then as the summer approaches we get tiger lillies, peonies, and roses. As much as I love flowers (and I plan on adding to my garden this year), I also want to approach the spring with a more utilitarian mentality.

First of all, being a veggie is hard and expensive. In order to get really good, organic produce, without going to 3 or 4 different stores, I end up shelling out at least $20 on produce a week. A few weeks ago I bought 6 bell peppers and it cost me $8, but what else are you going to do in a week where you are having salads, stuffed peppers, and tofu fajitas for dinner?

Now, I’m not going to lie, I don’t have the greenest thumb, but it’s in my blood (my uncle is a farmer), plus I have a friend who happens to work at the local food bank who is also passionate about growing her own food. She’s giving me tips and for every dollar I save on what I would have spent on produce this summer, I plan on donating it to her Foodbank, because they really do amazing things in our community, which unfortunately, is considered a food desert.

I digress, I have committed to growing my own produce this summer and I am super excited about it! I will not only be saving some money and do some good, I will be eating super healthy! I plan on growing hot peppers, sweet peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries, herbs, lavender, pumpkin, spaghetti squash, mini tomatoes, and berries. I also plan on adding dahlias, hydrangeas, more peonies and roses, and ranunculus to my existing flower garden.

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Seeds and Herbal Seed Paper

So, I’ve been told the best way to start your veggie garden is with a seed starter kit. I also grabbed some herbal seed paper from work and seed kits for fun. Here is everything you’ll need to start your garden:

  • Seed starter kit
  • Seed paper
  • Seed starter soil
  • Your choice of seeds
  • Water
  • A sunny area

First step is to add your soil. I purchased soil that is specifically used for starting seedlings and I added a healthy amount to each pod. Next, dampen the soil and stick your index finger into each pod creating a two-inch hole. Place the seeds in the hole and recover with soil. Add a bit more water and soil, then cover the seed starting kit with the plastic top and put in a warm, sunny place.

When your seeds start sprouting, you will eventually take the plastic top off and cut down all of the weaker sprouts, leaving the strongest seedling behind. Transfer the entire pod, seed and soil into your garden area, then BOOM—veggie garden—and then you get to eat all the vegetables!

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All the fruits and veggies!

 

Vegan Smoothie Bowl & Mixtape Monday!

Most people hate Mondays. I, however, am kind of a fan. Mondays give you the chance to detox from the last week (if it was kind of a bummer), you are rested from the weekend, and no one bothers you from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. at work because everyone’s just trying to get through the influx of email that happened over the weekend. As I said though, not everyone is a fan…

IMG_20151207_141158For those who get a total case of the Mondays, I am offering you two pick-me-ups. 1) a recipe for a killer vegan smoothie bowl and 2) a mixtape Monday playlist that will give you the motivation to kick Monday’s ass.

Vegan Smoothie Bowl

The premise of a smoothie bowl seems like perfection: blend your smoothie and sprinkle delicious and nutritious things on top. Though this doesn’t seem super portable, you can toss everything into a mason jar and you’re good to go!

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Indgredients

  • Medium sized ripe banana
  • 1 c. dairy-free milk (I used vanilla almond)
  • A few ice cubes (pro tip: you can nix the ice if you freeze the banana in chunks ahead of time!)
  • 1 heaping tbs. of nut butter
  • organic granola
  • flaxseed
  • fruit

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Directions

The directions are really simple (which is awesome). Place the nut butter, ice cubes, dairy-free milk, and banana in the blender and mix until smooth. Pour in a bowl or mason jar and sprinkle with flax, granola, and fruit—blueberries and strawberries are a delicious addition! This has tons of protein, calcium, folic acid, antioxidants, and heart healthy stuff! Yum.

Mixtape Monday

Music is where I go when I need to get amped up or decompress from something. Tackling a full work day, shaking off a crappy person and their crappy passive aggressive comments, getting over a hurtle, needing motivation. Hence, this play list…take a listen and don’t let ’em get you down–especially on a Monday!

 

 

Vegan Three Bean Sweet Potato Chili!

VEGAN THREE BEAN SWEET POTATOCHILLI

IMG_20151122_175730Real talk…I just ate cereal and almond milk for dinner, but we’re here to talk about last night’s dinner! I made some supremely delicious, flavorful, and easy Vegan Three Bean Sweet Potato Chili. My in-laws have family dinner once a month and if I thought I could get away with feeding them something vegan, I would totally make this because it’s hearty, makes enough for a big family, and is really filling.

IMG_20151122_180435In the land of Cincinnati Chili, which I hear is made with cinnamon, chocolate, or a combination of the two (served over spaghetti), there are any number of fast-food style chili places to enjoy a bowl, like Skyline Chili. I’ve never eaten at one of these places, frankly, I would rather eat a giant bloody steak before I patronized one of these chili places, which is why I make my own.

IMG_20151122_181620The sweet potatoes, beans, brown rice, and vegan crumbles provide plenty of protein, so as a veggie this is something great to eat when I feel like my iron and protein is low.

 

 

IMG_20151122_192141Ingredients:

  • Chili powder – if you’re in a pinch I use Chili-O, but if I have time I love this recipe from Whole New Mom.
  • 2 cans of chili beans
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans
  • 2 cans of chili ready tomatos
  • 1 can of stewed tomatoes
  • 1.4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 tbs. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic.
  • brown rice
  • Morning star meatless crumbles
  • 1 large sweet potato

Directions: 

  • Add beans, tomatoes, chili powder, brown sugar, pepper flakes, hot sauce, and garlic to a large pot and mix it all together. Set on medium low or toss it in a crock-pot on medium. I typically don’t drain the beans or tomatoes because when you add rice is absorbs some of the liquid and you need at least a little or else it will burn.
  • Peel and chop up your sweet potato into small chunks and toss these into your pot/slow cooker along with your frozen veggie crumbles.
  • If you are cooking in a pot, let the mixture simmer for 1 hour, if you are using a slow cooker, set it on medium or low for 3 hours.
  • Once your sweet potatoes are just about firm add the uncooked rice. The rice will cook right in the pot and thicken your chili. This will take about another half hour in a pot or an hour in a crock pot.

IMG_20151122_192239If you are into not being strictly vegan (which most of my friends aren’t) I usually provide plain greek yogurt to top off the chili in lieu of sour cream.

 

The meal is perfect for the cold weather and it’s packed with fiber, protein, and flavor. Also it smells really good and is easy to cook in a cock pot—bonus points!

Easy 30 Minute Vegan Fajitas!

VeganFajitas

Enough of Taco Tuesday–where did that even come from? We’re doing Vegan Fajita Tuesday. Not alliterative, still awesome though.

I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to cooking, if I can take a shortcut, I will—especially because my husband is a meat eater and I am not. This means I often to have to make a meat-filled and meatless version of whatever we decide to eat for dinner. I have found that there are some cuisines that lend itself to vegan food; Thai and Indian food (obviously) and Mexican food works well too. Mr. JD is a meat and potatoes kind of guy, he’s scared of most cooked veggies so Thai and Indian are off the table. He’s just not that adventurous; I put a piece of broccoli on his plate one time and he gave it to the the dog.

So…Mexican it is. I can replace meat with beans or tofu and skip the dairy and still have a tasty meal. On nights when I don’t have to work the next day I don’t mind taking an hour and change to make dinner, but for this I buy some things that help me cut my prep and cooking time down–thank you pre-cut, organic frozen peppers from Trader Joe’s.

Follow the directions and ingredients below and enjoy!

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Fajita Seasoning

  • 2 tbs. Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 tsp. Cane Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (if you like it spicy!)
  • 1/2 tsp. Cumin

Additional

  • 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s organic frozen bell/sweet peppers
  • 1 Onion
  • 1/3 Block of Tofu (I prefer extra firm organic from Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tbs. Olive Oil
  • Flour Tortillas (I use the small ones)
  • Taco Rice
  • Vegetarian Refried Beans
  • 1 Large Tomato
  • Medium Salsa
  • Guacamole (you can buy it or use my favorite guacamole recipe on the Eco Friendly Family)

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Directions

  • Add olive oil, frozen papers, and onion to a large skillet.
  • Cut up the tofu into small squares and add to the skillet. Cook until you have the desired texture. I like my tofu a little crispy so I cook it for awhile on medium-high.
  • Once you have the right consistency for your tofu, add the fajita seasoning and let it simmer on low while you prepare your rice, beans, and guacamole. I typically use one of the bags of rice I just have to boil to expedite the process. This time I added corn, lentils, and black beans because I have had a chronic headache all day, which usually means I am low on iron/protein.
  • Assemble your fajitas and enjoy!

This recipe makes enough for 3-4 people, but because I am the only veggie in the house I typically take leftovers for lunch (if I have time to eat lunch). The fajita mixture keeps pretty well for a few days in the refrigerator!

What’s For Breakfast? Vegan Pink Elephant Smoothie!

PinkElephantLeafThere are two things I am terrible at 1) remembering to eat breakfast 2) getting enough calcium–however I have an excuse for the second. Last year I went to a gastro doctor because I was constantly having reflux and stomach pain. A few doctors visits and a scope later, I found that I shouldn’t have dairy or some of harder proteins to digest, like meat. I try to eat as vegan as possible and am on medicine to help reflux. The only problem is my medication depletes my calcium and magnesium, which is terrible for your bones.

Though I cook for a non-vegans, I still always try to stay healthy, but healthy breakfast food can be a challenge. I have, luckily, found a healthy (and tasty) solution—smoothies! They are quick to make, travel well in a mason jar, and are a healthy dose of fruit, calcium, and protein. Also, bonus — I make mine all vegan and very delicious!

PinkElephantBehold—the Pink Elephant smoothie. Why a pink? Because Dumbo taught me that elephants love peanuts and this smoothie is a pretty shade of pink from all the strawberries! Yum!

Ingredients

  • 1 c. organic vanilla almond milk
  • 1 ripe, organic banana (preferably sliced and frozen—this makes it thick and creamy)
  • 1 tbs. all natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. strawberries
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 ice cubes (if you opted out of freezing your banana)

Just dump all the above ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. I pour mine into a glass mason jar and throw it in the freezer until I leave for work (yes, I eat breakfast and lunch at my desk or on the go!—the life of a gal in marketing). This smoothie is packed with protein, filling, vegan, and a quick healthy way to fit breakfast in, enjoy!