“Beauty Cocktail” A purple ‘green’ smoothie

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I am a firm believer in using food to help with health, and on my never ending quest for new combinations, I stumbled upon an article referring to a “beauty cocktail”. As I skimmed the article, I found that

a.) The health claims were pretty fantastic
b.) I already had a lot of the ingredients on hand!

So as promised in the last post, here it is…a smoothie that will either inspire or traumatize you! I will include a brief explanation to why each is included…

Ingredients:

leafy greens
frozen berries
hemp seeds
chia seeds
almond milk
lemon
ginger
honey

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Here is why:

1.) Leafy green veggies, 1-2 cups. I used kale, but others work as well. This ads vitamin A, which helps with nails, hair, skin, eye health. There is also vitamin B and of course fiber! Also, this is an easy way to get one of your daily servings of veggies out of the way!

2.) Frozen berries, 1 handful (or more!). This helps make the smoothie cold, and smoothie like. Berries have antioxidants (heart, skin, mood help) and of course vitamin C. [I also added some fresh blueberries as I had them on hand]

3.) Banana (I used a half). While it is not in the original recipe, bananas help thicken smoothies. Probiotic, potassium, fiber, and helps with calcium intake.

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Chia left, Hemp right

4.) Hemp seeds, 1 tbs. This is new for me, according to the internet, hemp seeds are a must have. They contain an impressive amount of protein (including the one that starts collagen production), omega-3 fats, are anti-inflammatory, and have fiber! Also, you can’t really taste them when you add them to a smoothie…so it is a win-win. The only downside I have found so far, is that they are a bit pricey. Hailing at $21 a pound at Whole foods, they may not be the most cost accessible. The good news is that a pound is A LOT of hemp seeds. Especially if you are using them a tablespoon at a time…

5.) Chia seeds. Also new to me, but similar to the hemp seeds, they seem to be packed with important things. Chia seeds include omega 3s, iron, essential fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

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The ingredients in a blender so far!

6.) Almond milk (~1 cup). I love almond milk! More calcium than traditional milk, filled with vitamin E, and vitamin B. (it is also Gluten free!) I use the vanilla version, which adds a sweeter side to the smoothie.

7.) Lemon (the juice of half of one). Lemon cleans out everything, it breaks down the gunk in your digestive track. Lemon is also a good source of vitamin C.

8.) Ginger (a few shakes…or a small amount of fresh ginger). Ginger helps with digestion and blood flow.

9.) Honey (to sweeten). The website suggests using something to sweeten the smoothie. I prefer honey, as it has antibacterial, anti fungal, and throat health qualities.

The final result is a sweet smoothie, full of health benefits. It may be considered an acquired taste…and if not blended fully, you may have a chewy piece (I know that sounds less than pleasant). I really enjoy the taste, and with the ingredients, it is easy to live a happy and healthy life!

Has anyone else tried this? What would you include?

All fresh but the olive oil homemade tomato sauce

So I have been on this healthy, cooking fresh, kick. I have also been craving my familiar staple of pasta and tomato sauce. The following recipe comes out of my desire to reunite with my Italian roots, while using fresh ingredients. I bought everything, except the olive oil, at the farmers market. Support local business!

For this you will need:

5 tomatoes (cut into quarters with the stem area removed)
4 cloves of garlic
6 mushrooms
handful of fresh parsley
handful of fresh basil
handful of fresh oregano
2 tbs of olive oil

First mince two cloves of garlic and sautee them in the olive oil. Then, in a trusted blender, place the five tomatoes, two remaining cloves of garlic, six mushrooms, parsley, basil, and oregano, into the blender. Pulse until the mixture is desirable. I prefer smoother sauces, so I blended for quite some time! Once the consistency is perfect, transfer to the pot with the olive oil and garlic, and stir. Heat throughly.

This is a great sauce for over plain pasta (I have been eating the 100% wheat pasta), in pasta dishes (ziti, lasagna). I may even use leftover sauce for pasta fazoli! (post pending!)

Simple, vegan, healthy.

Asparagus pasta…minus asparagus, add mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach…surprise!

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This past week has been insane for both bloggers here, hence the lack of posts. Kristina has finished classes, but will be going home and adventuring over the new year. I am finishing up the calendar school year on the 21st (end of the world!) and then will be returning home to Tallahassee. I am going to try to post throughout the break, but they may be sporadic.

This meal came along when I realized that I had bought asparagus last week, but had not eaten them. Eek! I looked up recipes for asparagus and vegetable stuff, found a great recipe and then completely changed it. Kristina came over to observe/help, and upon looking at the asparagus made the conclusion that I had been dreading “those do not look good, at all”. Darn, I was hoping it was just me who realized that they were slightly yellow/brownish. So the following recipe is an altered version of one I found on Gluten Free Goddess‘s blog. Of course, in true Jenni fashion, I added mushrooms and spinach, leaving out the capers, jalapenos, and sadly the asparagus.
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Ingredients:

two handfuls of fresh spinach
3 crimini mushrooms diced
6 white mushrooms diced
almost a pint of cherry tomatoes whole
6 cloves of garlic chopped
1 leek sliced
handful of golden grapes
4 tsps balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 tbs parsley dried
1 tbs basil
a few shakes of red pepper flakes
pepper to taste
1 box Pasta

Place the ingredients (minus the pasta) in a glass baking dish. Stir to ensure that everything is evenly coated. Place in the oven at 400 degrees.
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Cook pasta according to directions on box (generally open box, pour contents into boiling water, wait).

After about 20 minutes the vegetables should be good (and look like this!)
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Drain the pasta, place veggies on top and enjoy!

This meal is easy, tasty, and vegan!

Vegan Caesar ‘Chicken’ Wrap


Last night I made the most amazing tortillas from scratch for wraps. IF you haven’t read that post, I highly suggest it! 🙂

Tonight I decided to use one of the tortillas to make a ‘caesar chicken’ wrap. In quotes because it is not dairy based caesar dressing, and is definitely not chicken. This meal, however, can easily be converted to a non vegan dish!

My grandpa makes the most amazing caesar dressing from scratch! At my grandparents house, dressing is either oil and vinegar, or homemade caesar! My parents took that tradition, and growing up we almost always had a small salad after dinner. For a few years, I was in charge of making the salad…and the caesar dressing. (We did also have store bought dressing, but there were a few years we were mainly making out own!). The recipe is simple and delicious. Since the recipe varies greatly depending on the number of people eating, and the size of the salad, I will use proportions in the recipe.

at least 2 cloves of garlic pressed
3 parts olive oil
2 parts dijon mustard
1 part lemon juice
black pepper to taste

My grandpa adds anchovies on occasion… Stir the ingredients together, and mix over the salad!

I used Morning Glory’s “Chick’n strips” which are soy and veggie based. While the taste is a little bland, they look like real chicken!

Of course, if you prefer real chicken, you can use that too! I cooked the fake chicken in a frying pan with some seasoning until they were warm and slightly browned.

Meanwhile, I combined spinach, chopped mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, and Daiya mozzarella cheese (you can easily sub regular mozzarella or parmesan)

in a sandwich sized plastic bag.

I added the dressing, and the now cooked chicken (which I chopped into small pieces). I then sealed the bag, and shook it rather vigorously. The goal is to coat everything with the dressing! This also is an easy way to not use a ton of dishes. The plastic bag is disposable, and everything is evenly coated. This method also works when marinating food.

I microwaved the tortilla, emptied the contents of the plastic bag onto the warm tortilla, rolled, and ate!

I am so happy with this meal, that it is going to become a regularly occurring lunch item for me! Hooray for wraps!

Veggie Hummus Wrap in a Homemade Tortilla!

Hello readers! The past few days have been busy and quite hectic, leaving me and Kristina to eating leftovers or hurried meals not worthy of blogging. I have maintained a vegan diet during these days (which, I will admit was slightly difficult!) Tonight though, I decided to clean out some of the vegetables in my fridge and dine on a healthy wrap. Since I had all of the inside ingredients at home, I ventured briefly to Publix to acquire tortilla wraps.

My eating style has led me down some weird paths. I am constantly reading labels, and making decisions based on whether or not I can pronounce the ingredients. I was deeply disappointed when I started to read the labels on the tortilla packages. While many did not have dairy, they had a ton of chemicals that did not sound at all appetizing. I remembered that I had once successfully made homemade pita bread, and I whipped out my iphone and searched for homemade tortillas. A long list of recipes and ideas came up! I finally settled on one that only had four ingredients.

Home Made Tortilla Ingredients:

2 cups of flour (I used unbleached organic flour that was on sale!)
3/4 cup of water (warm, almost boiling)
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (I used seasoned salt)

Mix the flour and salt together. Add the olive oil and mix. Slowly (and carefully!) add the water. Stir together until the spoon becomes cumbersome, and then knead with your hands. Once the dough is smooth (add more water if necessary) let it sit for 10 minutes.

After the dough has had time to rise a bit, and consolidate, it is time to roll it into tortillas. A rolling pin would be useful in this scenario. I unfortunately do not own one, so I used a bottle of wine. Flatten out the tortillas until a desirable size and thickness, make sure to add flour to prevent sticking!

The original recipe said to fry the tortilla, I was not successful in that adventure. I tried using a George Foreman, but it came out with funky lines. The best method so far is to place it on a lined baking pan, and cook on broil until bubbles start to appear in the dough.

The Fillings

If you have read the blog, you know that I love hummus…to the point of obsession. I have included several hummus recipes on here, so I am going to just outline the ingredients.

Hummus


Chickpeas
3 garlic cloves
Olive Oil
Lemon juice (a tiny tiny amount)
Cumin
Coriander
Black Pepper
Seasoned Salt
Parsley
Water (a tiny amount!)

Add all to blender, blend, enjoy!

Now for the cleaning out of the kitchen. This meal (and the various left overs) used:

1/2 zucchini (diced)
1 yellow squash (diced)
4 baby bella mushrooms (diced)
1 cup fresh spinach
5 cherry tomatoes (chopped)
handful of cooked black eyed peas
handful of cooked quinoa (if you have never tried quinoa go to the store immediately. It is a grain, packed with protein, and it will change your life!)

I lightly sauteed the zucchini, squash and mushrooms in olive oil until tender.

I then took my tortilla, slathered it with hummus. Placed spinach leaves on top, added quinoa, black eyed peas, the sauteed veggies, and tomatoes,

and attempted to roll into a burrito styled wrap. I got half way there. After the first bite though, it hardly mattered what shape it was in, I was in food heaven!

Baked Quinoa

While Jenni has an obsession with finding recipes on Pinterest, I flock to tumblr with similar purpose. Today while browsing the land of tumblr searching for Doctor Who gifs, I found myself with the insatiable need for more vegan recipes, and quickly went to the handy search feature and typed in vegan and it procured a whole plethora of delectable looking delicacies. At the end of the post is a link to the blog that I found the recipe on, I hope you enjoy and check out more of her recipes because they all looked amazing.

For this recipe you will need:

1 zucchini
5-6 Campari tomatoes
1 cup chickpeas
1 cup quinoa
2 cups veggie broth
3 cloves garlic
Little bit olive oil
Red pepper flakes

I also put in cayenne pepper, rosemary, oregano and parsley.

Start by heating oil in a pan and add the garlic, at the same time putting the veggie broth and quinoa in another pit and letting it come to a boil. When the oil is warm put in the zucchini, tomatoes and chickpeas.

About 15 minutes later the quinoa should have absorbed most of the veggie broth, with a little left in it take it off the heat and put it aside for 5 minutes covered. When the 5 minutes have past put the quinoa in with the veggie mixture and let it sit for another 5 minutes and soak up the liquid from the tomatoes and veggies.

After that put the entire mixture in a oven safe vessel and cover with cheese of your choice, we used daiya which is vegan cheddar “cheese” bake in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes.

Over all this dish was really good and I enjoyed it a lot. I would totally make I again, it was healthy, filling and totally satisfying.

http://www.mitchinthekitchen.com/post/32075925091/baked-quinoa-with-tomatoes-and-cheddar

Wild Mushroom and Artichoke Pasta

One of the benefits of living downtown is being able to walk to the farmers market. Last Sunday, Kristina and I ventured down to the market and bought a good amount vegetables. One of my more exciting finds was a beautiful portebello mushroom next to a basket of crimini mushrooms! I had been craving a strong mushroom dish for quite some time, and decided that this was my opportunity!

Searching online (yes, pinterest again!) I found an awesome recipe for mushrooms and artichokes over pasta. the accompanying picture sold me on the dish. I went to publix and gathered my ingredients.

Between the time I went food shopping and the time I decided to create this meal, I craved hummus…so all of my chickpeas were sacrificed for a noble cause. I also realized that I completely forgot to purchase white wine, so I decided to use red wine vinegar instead. I am also not entirely sure where I would find Braggs so it was left out.

Ingredients

1 large portebello mushroom, diced into pieces
7 criminis chopped
7 baby bellas chopped
3 garlic cloves chopped
1 jar of artichoke hearts (drained)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs vegan butter
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/2 tsp parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
pasta

A word about the mushrooms. The criminis and baby bellas looks REALLY similar. I decided to count them separately, because they are technically two different things, although they are often used interchangeably. The two are aged differently, causing a slightly different taste. Back to the recipe!

First add the butter and the olive oil to a large frying pan, and wait for the butter to melt. Then, add your garlic and chopped mushrooms. After about five minutes add the drained jar of artichoke hearts. Stir and add the vinegar and spices. Simmer on low until the mushrooms are tender. The longer it is on the stove, the stronger the flavor!

While this is cooking, boil, cook, and drain the pasta of your choice. She calls for linguini, I had farfella (bow-tie pasta!)

When all is cooked and ready (and your kitchen smells amazing) add the mixture to the top of the pasta and enjoy. This meal is not only my new favorite, but may be the highlight of my cooking experience. Yes, it is that good!

If you use vegan margarine, it is vegan. It is also extremely healthy…and just all around amazing!!

Baking Cinnamon Pear Muffins


I love to cook, as evidenced by this blog! While most of what I cook ends up on here, there are some recipes that occur on a whim, in the middle of a hectic day, and while they taste fantastic…they are sent to the non-existent archives, in hope that one day I can write about them. Cooking takes skill, knowledge of delightful pairings, and painful combinations. It is also highly forgiving, and some dishes can be salvageable with added ingredients. I love to cook.

Baking…on the other hand…is different. There have been limited baking posts, mainly because I am phenomenally bad at baking. My undergraduate year was marred with references to ‘cookie soup’ (when I forgot about baking soda), various burnt desserts, and countless other failures. It was so bad, that a close friend of mine destroyed a batch of rice-krispie treats, and everyone assumed it was my fault! Despite this tragic history, this morning I decided to be brave and face the oven…I was going to make muffins!

Muffins are lovely, healthier forms of their cousin the cupcake. I grew up with muffins made from scratch (My mom is an amazing cook AND baker…she passed the baking gene to my sister…) My goal today was to save the two browning pears from a simple fate, Cinnamon Pear muffins! I searched pinterest to find a good recipe and found a really fun one from Italy Croissant & Parmesan. The only problem was that it was in metric units, and called for dairy ingredients that I didn’t have. Since I was going to need to convert to standard units, I figured it wouldn’t take much more effort to convert into a vegan dish.
Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of almond milk
1/2 cups of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of sugar
1 banana
2 pears
1 tbs cinnamon
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs baking powder

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. The original recipe called for buttermilk, which I definitely did not have laying around. Since Almond milk is not as thick as buttermilk, the internet suggests adding two tablespoons of lemon juice to it. This makes the milk thicken, and honestly not look that appetizing. It also needs to sit for 5-10 minutes. Next came my egg substitute…bananas! Usually applesauce gets this honor, but I happened to have a banana, so I used that. Since the conversion is 1/4 cup of mashed banana per egg, I used one banana (1/2 a cup) to make up for the two eggs in the recipe. Finally, to replace the 8 tablespoons of butter needed, I used half a cup of vegetable oil. Once the milk is settled, combine the wet ingredients and add in the dry ingredients.

Pears must be in season, they are 99 cents a pound at Publix. Subtle and juicy, pears are awesome. In the words of my friend Christine “I love pears!” Wash and peel the two pears. Cut into tiny tiny pieces. Add to the mixture.

Once thoroughly mixed, divide into muffin holders and bake for 20 minutes at 410. Mine were not all done after 20, so I had to add 5 minutes. This recipe made 15 muffins!

Upon coming out, my muffins looked a little pitiful. Most had caved in, but all in all they tasted really good! Maybe I am getting better at this…

Hummus Pasta? YES!

So the picture isn’t as pretty as it tastes…

I made hummus last night, and realized I had nothing to spread it on…it has also been raining lately, which has curbed my desire to venture into publix. I decided it was time to get creative!

I found this recipe on pinterest a while ago, and was interested and scared…hummus on pasta? I gathered the following ingredients:

Pasta
Hummus
Olive oil
Mushrooms
Grape Tomatoes
Spinach

Ok, so maybe not too creative. This is basically everything I eat anyway, but this time all together! Spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes are my go-to veggies, I love pasta, and hummus is yummus (and feeds into my chickpea addiction)…so on with the recipe!

While boiling the pasta, I cut up mushrooms and placed them in a small sauce pan with a modest amount of olive oil. I cooked the mushrooms while I cut up the tomatoes (which I then added to the mixture). Once both were fairly cooked, and some juice had magically appeared at the bottom of the pan, I added a generous amount of spinach to the top of the mixture and place the lid on the pan. After cooking a few minutes, I peeked into the pan, stirred, and replaced the lid. Once the spinach had wilted down (about five minutes) I added about three table spoons of hummus, stirred, and added more. The goal is to get the mixture thick, but not as thick as hummus! Think alfredo!

I decided to forgo adding spices to the mixture, the mushrooms smelled particularly lovely, and the hummus already has coriander, garlic, pepper, and parsley in it!

While other recipes suggest adding water to the hummus, I found that the juice from the cooked vegetables was enough to create a sauce like mixture. By now, the pasta is done and ready to be drained. Add pasta and sauce to the bowl and enjoy this very minimalist, but very tasty (and vegan!), meal!

This is so easy, it is a new favorite!

Mushroom Pasta!


One of the hazards of teaching is being exposed to a plethora of different germs. This past week, one of my darling 118 students shared their germs resulting in me falling ill and desiring nothing but unimaginative soup for the past week.

But now I am cured! Hooray!

The first thing I decided to cook was mushrooms and pasta using Penzeys spices and fresh herbs. For those of you who are not familiar with Penzey, they make amazing spice combinations, including one called “Forward!” usually placed in a lovely box celebrating teachers. This concoction includes “black pepper, onion, paprika, garlic, turmeric”. Yum!

Ingredients:

Penzeys Forward!
scallions
basil
oregano
garlic
olive oil
mushrooms
pasta

This recipe is REALLY easy, which is great for someone with a busy schedule who is still tired from a strained immune system. Sauté garlic in olive oil. Add chopped fresh mushrooms. Add basil, oregano, scallions, and sprinkle Penzeys Forward! on top. Leave on stove until the mushrooms are cooked throughout. I had precooked pasta, if you do not, boil pasta. Once everything is cooked and warmed to satisfaction, combine and mix!

This recipe is healthy, easy, fast, and vegan!