Vegetarian

Arugula Mushroom Radish Salad with Roasted Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette

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arugula salad

I couldn’t think of a healthier way to mark my 400th blog entry other than with an easy arugula salad recipe. I also include a roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette recipe as well. From stacking up on all those carbs and calories from soups, meat dishes, and dairy to desserts, an a unique but easy arugula salad recipe is very necessary. I normally would be content with a fresh crisp garden salad but I always welcome new  and creative ideas to spruce a salad up by just a notch.  I live on cut-up veggies daily but I wanted to add an exotic twist to my salad.  Having not tried arugula in a long while, I wanted to incorporate my own variation in which I subsequently did.

Arugula, or salad/garden rocket, is a nutritious green-leafy vegetable belonging to the Brassicaceae family – cauliflower, kale, cabbage, mustard greens, etc.  Sometimes, arugula is referred to it’s scientific name Eruca sativa. Loaded with nutrients and minerals, this vegetable has no shortage of healing properties.  Arugula is also a great source of folic acid and vitamins A, C and K. As one of the best vegetable sources of Vitamin K,  this leafy vegetable provides a boost for bone and brain health. Arugula is not only great for maintaining a healthy weight but it’s also thought to be a powerful aphrodisiac 😉

Commonly used as a salad green, this aromatic spicy leaf is often mixed in with other vegetables with milder flavors. I sometimes like to counteract the peppery aftertaste of arugula with a roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette,  especially for this particularly easy arugula salad recipe. Other people like to sprinkle Parmesan cheese or mix in goat cheese. Or they sometimes throw in candied chopped pecans.  I would have used either option if I had access to any of these ingredients.  I also tossed in some mushrooms and radishes as well but you can use any vegetable of your choice. Arugula is not only limited to salads. I may use leftovers for an arugula pesto dressing, dip, or pasta sauce depending on how adventurous I am feeling.  I recently used some of them to make an arugula mushroom tortilla pizza for lunch. Scrumptious!

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 6 oz baby arugula
  2. 1 red onion sliced
  3. 1 cup of chopped or sliced mushrooms
  4. Handful of baby radishes sliced

For the roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette recipe, you will need

  1. 1 head of garlic roasted peels removed
  2. 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  4. Water
  5. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Place vegetables in a salad bowl. For the vinaigrette, place ingredients in a food processor. While processing, drizzle in some water till achieved the right consistency. Toss gently to coat and serve.

Yields 4 servings

 

 

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Black Bean Burgers

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black bean burgers

I am not a particular fan of beans. Beans don’t normally bode well for my digestive system (I will spare you the graphic details). I will avoid chili or any heavily beaned dishes for that matter. I know it seems rather ironic that I am sharing a black bean burgers recipe with you considering my aversion to beans. I made an exception with black beans after hubby made a black bean burrito many dinners ago. Of all beans, I found black beans to be more digestible to me. Other types of beans are like cement to my intestines. I had the least amount of digestive problems prior to eating black beans. Plus I needed a vegan dinner idea and I made black bean burgers on the whim.

After having tried  homemade black bean burgers, I found found them to have a satisfying flavor and a robustly meaty texture to them. Even devout carnivorous will appreciate these vegan black bean burgers. The seasoning makes all the difference in the world. Sauteed vegetable add depth to the patties without dominating them. I thought about using raw black beans but took a shortcut by using canned black beans instead. I normally would go for a beef burger but I can delight myself to a  vegan option every now and then. Having made veggie burgers/patties before, making these homemade black bean burgers were no challenge at all.

These black bean burgers are  simple to make and taste as good as they smell, if not better. Naturally allergy friendly, they can also be made gluten free and vegan too depending on what type of bread crumb or oats you use in this black bean burger recipe.  Unlike beef  burgers, which are best cooked over extremely high heat, these black bean burgers require a moderate heat so that they can cook through and firm up before the exterior burns.  Since the batter does not have any eggs in them, you can taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning to your liking.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 2 cups of cooked black beans or 2 15 oz can of black beans drained and rinsed
  2. 1 green bell pepper chopped
  3. 1 onion chopped
  4. 3 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 1 flax egg (you can use a regular egg)
  6. 2 tablespoons of vegan mayonnaise
  7. 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs, corn flakes, or oats
  8. 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  9. 1 teaspoon of cumin
  10. 1/2 teaspoon of ground  chipotle chili or smokey paprika
  11. 2 teaspoons of chopped cilantro or parsley
  12. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Saute vegetables in a large skillet over medium high heat till tender. Transfer vegetables and beans to a food processor. Add seasoning and process till smooth. Transfer black bean mixture to a bowl and add mayonnaise, flax egg and crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well and form patties.  Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add patties but don’t overcrowd the skillet. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until browned and crisp. Serve immediately or freeze leftovers.

Yields 4-6 servings

 

Copycat Swiss Miss Chocolate Pudding

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raw chocolate pudding

My introduction to pudding was very cold and brief. It was not love at first sight. It’s slimy texture was far from appealing to me. Then I had a change of heart when pudding became my consolation after I had my braces slapped on to my teeth. I literally couldn’t eat solid food for nearly two weeks. My mother would stock up on pudding among other things. Swiss Miss pudding was my favorite brand. They were inevitably devoured shortly after they filled up the refrigerator. Only then did I regret having preconceived notions against pudding.

While I enjoyed eating pudding, making pudding seemed intimidating and painstaking. Only this one time did I bother to make pudding from scratch following a recipe, of course. It was my final time. Never did I struggle to temper the egg mixture. It was a scrambled epic failure. I ended up making what I can best describe as scrambled eggs in chocolate. Yummy. Subsequently, I had to toss it in the bin along with the illusions of mastering in making pudding. Even this incident would make Amelia Bedilia seem less catastrophic.  Luckily, I only made one serving worth of pudding before it was qualified as a waste. I then stuck to just eating pudding and not causing further damage to my pots and pans.

My hankering for pudding returned after being dormant for a while. Swiss Miss pudding is not available where I live and I find the brand that my local store carries to be too sweet. Then the idea of learning how to make vegan chocolate pudding crossed my mind. I am very eager to share this healthy chocolate pudding recipe with you because it’s rich, silky, decadent and most importantly, super easy to make. Plus, I added my own twist.  Only this time I did not encounter a kitchen disaster when making this vegan chocolate pudding. This healthier version has everything you can expect from a Swiss Miss chocolate pudding but without the eggs, cream, and sugar. All it takes is blending all the ingredients in a food processor and voilà! No more burnt pots. No more scrambled puddings. While this healthy chocolate pudding may seem like child’s play, the verdict is worth the lack of effort. And I am all about damage control in the kitchen. Thankfully, my kitchen disasters have been minimal.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 ripe avocado, skin and seed removed
  2. 1 large ripe banana peeled
  3. 1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
  4. 1 teaspoon if vanilla extract
  5. 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup or agave nectar (you can add a bit more for desired sweetness)
  6. 1/2  plus more of cup of freshly squeezed orange juice or low fat milk of your choice
  7. 1 teaspoon or orange zest (optional)
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of instant espresso powder (optional)
  9. 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)
  10. Pinch of salt

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend till smooth. Add a bit more liquid as needed for desired consistency. Spoon the pudding into ramekins or bowls, cover and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Top with chopped walnuts if you like.

Yields  1 1/2 – 2 cups

 

 

 

Chilled Spiced Peach Mango Soup

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peach mango soup

Hot summer days like today beg for a chilled fruit soup recipe. Since mangoes and peaches are at their peek this season, I decided on a chilled spiced peach and mango soup. I’ve been through many chilled fruit soup recipes and nothing pleases the palate more than a bowl of chilled refreshing fruit soup. I am already approaching that stage where I limit my use of stoves and ovens. The idea of sweating in the process of preparing meals does not appeal to me in the least.  Yes we tend to be more stagnant when the temperature is hotter but I don’t make chilled fruit soups just for the mere convenience – I happen to love fruit soups (and I love taking shortcuts as well).

I also happen to love fresh peaches and mango – together or on their own. I routinely serve a hot bowl of soup but the weather changed my plans for me and not necessarily in a bad way.  This chilled spiced peach mango soup was very appropriate for this season. A hint of  chipotle seasoning lifts the flavors of this chilled fruit soup recipe. If you can’t find chipotle seasoning, you can use chili powder as well.

This gluten free chilled spiced peach mango soup recipe can double as healthy smoothie to be eaten as breakfast, lunch or a snack. It also makes for  a wonderfully refreshing appetizer. Leftovers can be reserved for making frozen yogurt or sorbet. It takes a peach and a mango to tango with this zesty, aromatic, and vibrant chilled soup. With the bright colors of the peaches and mango,  you’ll feel the zing of energy you need to keep yourself fueled throughout the day.  Have fun playing around with different fruits you love but don’t leave out the ginger. Ginger assembles all the flavors together, not to mention the health benefits it provides.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 4 ripe peaches peeled and pitted
  2. 2 ripe mangoes peeled and pitted
  3. 2 cups of coconut water or milk of your choice
  4. 2 teaspoons of fresh minced ginger
  5. 1 teaspoon of chipotle or chili powder
  6. 1/2 teaspoon of dried cardamon
  7. Low fat plain yogurt of your choice
  8. Fresh mint leaves for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Place first 6 ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend till smooth.  Dollop yogurt on each bowl of soup. Garnish with fresh mint leaves if you like. Serve chilled. Enjoy!

Yields 4 servings

 

 

 

 

Soy-Free Vegan Raw Cheesecake

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raw cheesecake

No-fuss elegant delectable desserts are my favorite to make – no-bake desserts specifically. It’s not just because I am lazy or pressed for time (even though I frequently finding myself in these circumstances; I blame the heat). I may have used this proverbial quote before but I will reiterate it again: If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.  In my case, I can’t stand the heat but won’t let it chase me out of the kitchen. With this soy-free vegan raw cheesecake that I recently made, I remained in my kitchen without the heat.

I’ve had my fair share of raw desserts before and even made some myself. Raw cheesecake was a novelty to me, especially a soy-free version. Many people I know are not particularly fans of soy oriented dishes and desserts so I wanted to share a dessert idea that both vegans and non-vegans can compromise on and mutually enjoy. Unless you have a nut allergy, you will appreciate this raw cheesecake recipe regardless of your dietary orientation. I,  for one,  love nuts. That is why I was devastated upon recently discovering my allergies for chestnuts and pine nuts. I pray hope that more onset nut allergies won’t follow. Thankfully, I can still eat cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts – ingredients I used in this no-bake raw cheesecake recipe.

When I served this raw cheesecake to guests, they had a hard time believing that I used nuts instead of Tofutti cream cheese. I like using cashews and macadamia nuts in my desserts primarily because they are versatile, creamy, and lovely tasting. I very seldom use macadamia nuts because they are very expensive so I alternatively used almonds instead which gave this raw cheesecake a ricotta cheesecake texture. With this raw cheesecake, it’s almost like biting into a slice of a New York style cheesecake minus the high fat content from the cream cheese and sour cream. Even a small slice is extremely satisfying and will give you a comfortable feeling of fullness without weighing your stomach down. You can enjoy a dessert that is equally exquisite, rich and gourmet without tacking on the extra calories. If you enjoyed my nut cream recipe, you will rave over this raw cheesecake recipe.  Hassle-free and easy to make, this soy-free, no-bake vegan raw cheesecake is perfect for beginners consisting of only 6 ingredients excluding the pie crust! This recipe is practically fool-proof. In fact, I will be very impressed if you manage to screw this recipe up.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. Prepared pie crust
  2. 2 1/2 – 3 cups of cashews, macadamia, or blanched almonds
  3. 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  4. 1/2 cup of pure mayple syrup, agave nectar or honey
  5. 1/2 cup of coconut butter melted
  6. Juice and zest  from 1 lemon
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  8. 1/4 cup of water plus more for soaking nuts

Instructions

Cover nuts in a bowl and let it soak for 8-12 hours or overnight. Drain. Combine all the ingredients for the cheese filling a food processor or blender and process for 6 minutes or until completely smooth. Pour contents into prepared pie crust then cover and freeze till ready to use. Remove cheescake from freezer 5 minutes before serving. Store in freezer up till 2 weeks.

Yields 8 servings

 

Stone Fruit Slaw

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fruit salad

Tis the season to be overheated, sunburned, lounging at the beach, vacationing, and barbecuing. While my tolerance for intense humidity is very low, the summertime does offer many advantages.  Although the 4th of July may have passed through, it’s never too late for a barbecue.  And by that, I mean bbq salad ideas among other things. A lot of my neighbors tend to hold barbecues on a regular basis for no particular reason. Of all the barbeques I’ve attended in the past, I very seldom see fruit salad being served. When I was searching for bbq fruit salad ideas, a stone fruit slaw recipe lit up on my radar screen.

Stone fruit consists of peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots. There can be more than one variety from each fruit on the one tree; each variety ripens at different times depending on the season. There are trees with varieties of fruit that are more suited for warm climates with other varieties for colder weather. Stone fruit tends to be at their peak during the summertime. That is what prompted me to make a stone fruit salad.  Not only was I in need of something to balance out my intake of meat but a stone fruit salad seemed like a very refreshing idea to me.  With a tangy orange ginger honey vinaigrette and chopped toasted almonds, this stone fruit slaw recipe offers some added elegance to the everyday fruit salad. While it nornally makes a nice light lunch or dinner appetizer on its own, you can top this slaw with sliced chicken breast to make it more substantial. You can even toss in some goat cheese if you like.

While this fruit salad may seem gourmet, it is not labor intensive in the slightest.  Although the thought of grilling fruit did cross my mind but my laziness interfered with the execution of the idea. No need to fire up a grill to gussy up some fruit salad – just orange ginger honey vinaigrette (which takes seconds to make) tossed in with julienned stone fruit and you are all set.  Plus it’s a great way to encourage kids to include more fruit in their diet. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme or chopped fresh basil with a pinch of salt and chill for a bit before serving and you are ready to kick off your barbeque.

 

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 1/2 lbs of assorted ston fruit julienned
  2. 2 scallions thinly sliced diagonally
  3. Juice from a small orange
  4. 1 tablespoon of grated peeled fresh ginger
  5. 2 tablespoons of honey
  6. 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil
  7. 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  8. 1/4 teaspoon of curry powder
  9. Toasted chopped almonds or peanuts (optional)
  10. Salt and pepper for taste

Instructions

Place fruit in a salad bowl and scallions. Whisk orange juice, ginger, honey, oil, and spices in a small bowl till well combined. Toss in with fruit and lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in nuts before serving if you like.

Yields 4-6 servings

 

 

Cherry Mango Smoothie

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cherry mango smoothie

I would like to begin this post with an apology for my long absence. A lot has transpired over the past two weeks – thankfully for better reasons than worse. From a family wedding to a recent engagement of a friend, 4th of July and a family reunion plus more. I haven’t had much time for blogging.  Despite the political and regional tensions where I live, nothing can stop me from delighting yourselves with my recipes. I thank you for your support and patience. I hope this healthy smoothie recipe I am about to share with you was worth the wait. I promise that more recipes will follow shortly.

Fresh cherries and mango happen to be at their peak this season. I stocked up on a bunch of fresh cherries and mango. I normally prefer to munch on cherries as they are but occasionally explore other creative options that I can use with them. I had many ideas in terms of treats that I can make using these fruits but I was stalling for too long and they were beginning to rot. It’s hard for me to dispose of fresh fruit, so smoothies were a simple, quick yet delicious solution to my dilemna.

What other healthy and exotic way to cool an overheated palate other than learning how to make smoothies using cherries and fruit? I could never tire of smoothies; the combination of possibilities never end.  I never incorporated cherries into my smoothies before but didn’t think of it as a risk factor. Adding cherries introduces a sweet yet tangy flavor this red mango smoothie. The mango merely heightens the taste of this smoothie.

For this recipe, you will need:

  1. 1 fresh or frozen mango cubed
  2. 1 cup of fresh or frozen cherries seeded
  3. 1/3 cup of fresh or canned pineapple chunks
  4. 1/2 cup of low fat plain yogurt of your choice

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Add more water or milk if the smoothie is too thick for your liking. Use leftovers for popsicles if you like.

Yields 2 servings