Sweet-Enough Vegan Spinach and Quinoa Salad

Our local market, Milk Pail, is where we get all of our fresh produceAs you may have noticed, all of our recipes generate enough food to feed a crowd. Maybe not a super hungry one, but a crowd nonetheless. This is because as graduate students we only have time to cook on weekends. So, Chris and I both make enough to last us the week and then I spend a good hour or two transforming the aftermath back into a kitchen. Sure it can get fairly boring by Thursday or Friday, but until we get grown-up jobs, its the best way for us to eat healthier and save money as we avoid fast food and/or sit-down restaurants.

This weekend I also became interested in “tasting the rainbow,” (fruits & veggies, not Skittles). Rainbow eating ensures you get in a variety of fruits and veggies and thus a wide array of plant-nutrients. The result is thought to reduce one’s risk of chronic diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, some even some cancers. Here’s how my week breaks down:

    • Red: Tomatoes in the sauce from this week’s dinner, Whole wheat spaghetti and Wheatballs.
    • Orange: Fresh carrot juice since we both Like to Juice It, Juice It.
    • Yellow: I’m not sure bananas count since it’s the inside color that counts, but bananas are in my fiber cereal this week
    • Green: Spinach came to mind and salads make great lunches. Thus, this recipe was born. (I needed my spinach salad to be animal-free, and not loaded with sugars)
    • Blue: Fresh blueberries are now in season and in my plain yogurt!
    • Purple: Purple onions? We used them in our Spaghetti recipe…

Sweet-Enough Vegan Spinach and Quinoa Salad

"Softening" the spinach(Serves 5 or 10)

For Salad:

  • 1 cup raw quinoa
  • 4 cups raw baby spinach
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

For dressing:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 T unsweetened applesauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste (I used ~½ tsp of each)

Salad

Cook quinoa as per directions. The final amount of cooked quinoa should be 4 cups. If bought in bulk, you can follow these instructions. While quinoa is cooking, wash roughly chop baby spinach and place in large bowl. When quinoa is done (and still warm), fluff well and add to bowl containing chopped spinach and dried cranberries (be sure to declump first). Toss all until mixed well, which WILL talk longer than expected. Ideally, you want each forkful to contain all ingredients. Cover bowl while you make the dressing. This will start the “softening” of the baby spinach.

Dressing

Combine olive oil, vinegar, applesauce and spices in a small bowl and mix until emulsified. Once mixed well, add to salad and toss again to coat. When mixed, all should be shiny: there should be no dry spinach leaves.

Enjoy!

This salad serves ~10 as a side dish or 5 as a main course. This is my lunch for the week, so I divided it into 5 parts to be served with whole wheat bread.

Recipe by HarrisArnoldCollaboration

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Vegan Enchiladas with Green Sauce

Personally I think Chris outdid himself this time. For dinner this week we’re eating vegan enchiladas (covered in green sauce) with Mexican Style Hot Pickled Carrots. These vegan enchiladas are the perfect combination of smoothness and kick. I’m not sure that makes any sense so you’ll just have to make them yourself.

Vegan Enchiladas

(Makes between 12 and 14 enchiladas)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb raw spinach
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 8 roasted poblano peppers
  • 8 cloves roasted garlic (see below*)
  • 3 T oregano
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas

*Roasted garlic cloves: Peel garlic cloves, wrap in foil and place in oven at 375 degrees F until they turn slightly brown (~30 to 45 minutes)

The Filling

Spritz frying pan with oil spray. Saute spinach until wilted (~3 minutes)  and set aside. Re-oil the same pan, and saute onions until translucent.

Add bell peppers and continue to saute until peppers are brightened. Next add the roasted poblanos, roasted garlic, and spinach. Cook another 2 minutes and remove from heat.

Enchilada Assembly

Roll filling into whole wheat tortillas. Spread with green sauce and bake @ 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.

(As you can see in the pic, Chris also added soy cheese to his).

Lastly, serve & savor! Here the vegan enchiladas are shown with Mexican Style Hot Pickled Carrots, vegetarian refried beans, chips and topped with soy cheese (read soy cheese labels carefully as they sometimes still contain milk products).

Want more vegan Mexican food? Try this site.

Recipe by HarrisArnoldCollaboration

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Green Sauce

We can’t take credit for this recipe, but the original website is now gone. It’s really good so I’m glad we’ve rescued it from extinction.

Green Sauce for Vegan Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 6 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled
  • 1.5 lbs tomatillos (about 8), peeled & chopped
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 serano chilis, seeded
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt

Directions:

Place peppers, tomatillos, onion, and seranos into food processor and blend until smooth. Place in pot and simmer on medium heat for 25 to 30 min.

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Occupy Our Food Supply

I never expected to be involved in any Occupy Movement, but today we lend our blog to the Occupy Our Food Supply movement because we agree with their goal of cultivating "healthy, just, sustainable food systems for all" by ending corporate exploitation of our food systems.

The goal of most corporations is money. It is not the welfare of its customers. No matter how "socially responsible" a corporation claims or aims to be, it’s first priority will always be financial gain. While this makes for a successful business, it does not benefit America and it is our health that is suffers.

With a focus on money, additives are added to food to extend its shelf life. Low cost alternatives to products may be selected and nutritional content is compromised. Worst still, synthetic compounds are often added to compensate for nutrient loss.

While we cannot expect corporations to choose health over wealth, we can take control of our own welfare. Recognizing that the food industry does not have your best interest in mind, we must reclaim control of what goes into our bodies and into the bodies of our children. We can no longer blindly trust what is written on the outside of a box or bag as simple truth. We must choose to eat and prepare primary food for ourselves and for our families.

Primary food is unprocessed food. Primary food means buying raw meat, not fast food. It means buying raw vegetables, not veggie chips. It means saying "No" to quick food choices and no longer compromising quality for convenience. By choosing to buy and eat primary food you are eliminating from your diet the shelf-life extending preservatives and by-products of mass food production. This can lower the toxic load on internal organs and has been shown to reduced inflammation and even alleviate chronic disease. 

Primary food selection can result in a healthier you and is crucial to a GFGFU lifestyle.

Choosing primary food for one’s health is not the only goal of Occupy Our Food Supply. The others are listed below:

  • Resist GMOs and genetic engineering
  • Resist the privatization of seeds
  • Resist the corporate consolidation of our food system
  • Support family farmers
  • Support sustainable agriculture and local food systems
  • Fight the displacement of communities and forests for plantation crops like palm oil
  • Demand food safety
  • Get rid of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)
  • Encourage people to buy local produce, to cook, and eat meals together
  • Transform our relationship to food  to know our farmer and where our food comes from
  • Stand up for fair and just jobs for farm workers and food workers
  • Make healthy, affordable, culturally-appropriate food accessible in low-income communities and communities of color
  • End the revolving door of biotech executives in the FDA
  • Support and stand in solidarity with local communities around the world who are reclaiming the food system in the name of justice and sustainability

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Tofu Vindaloo

In our hands, Indian food always takes so long to make but we have never been disappointed in the outcome. Though it took SIX whole hours to make, the palak tofu, tofu vindaloo, bhindi ki subji and basmati rice were amazing. Below is the recipe for Tofu Vindaloo. The palak tofu and bhindi ki subji recipes we followed are written elsewhere, and is our side of basmati rice.

This tofu vindaloo recipe was modified from a chicken vindaloo recipe which I had made for Chris in the past after learning what substitutes for punjabi and tamarind paste. But as I would be eating the vindaloo too this week, we decided to try it with tofu.

Tofu Vindaloo

(Makes 6 to 8 servings as a main dish or up to 16 as a side dish.)

Ingredients for marinade: to be made at least 4 hours before, but the day before is best.

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp citric acid (or 2 crushed vitamin C tablets)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic (1 full garlic bulb)
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped
  • 2 Serrano peppers, chopped
  • 2.5 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek powder (or celery powder)
  • 1/2 tsp dried ginger powder
  • 3/4 Tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 lbs of Extra Firm Tofu

The Marinade:

Place all marinade ingredients into a gallon-sized resealable bag. Mix well (we use a whisk). Slice Tofu into slabs and stab with a fork to allow marinade to seep in. Place tofu into bag and chill until ready to use, mixing as needed.

Ingredients for vindaloo:

  • Marinade from above (you will use it)
  • Tofu from above (stripped of as much marinade as possible and cut into 1 inch cubes)
  • 3 white onions
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tsp brown sugar

Protocol: (I’m a scientist)

Finely grind up the onions. A food processor works well for this. In fact, I went out and bought a food processor before making Indian food for the first time. There was no way I was going to finely chop all those veggies by hand! Spritz a large frying pan with cooking oil and heat on medium high. Add cubed tofu and fry until all sides are brown. Remove tofu cubes from pan, place aside and add processed onions to same pan. Fry, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until almost brown. While browning the onions, open all the nearby windows and/or doors. When ready, add saved marinade to onions and run away from the pan. Concentrated spices = stinging in eyes! Come back and stir the mixture until shiny, or reduced slightly. Stir in water and cook mixture into a paste. Add the cooked tofu back to the pan and bring everything back to a boil for two minutes. Remove from heat, let sit ~15 minutes and add the brown sugar to cut the sourness.

Here is the final product served with Trader Joe’s Naan. Yummy!

Bhindi Ki Suji (top), Palak Tofu (right), Tofu Vindaloo (left), and Basmati Rice (bottom)

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Sweet and Spicy Vegan Pizza

Chris first made this recipe because he was concerned that he wouldn’t be satisfied with just wheatballs and spaghetti for dinner this past week. While that turned out not to be the case, it gave us the opportunity to build upon another recipe and make our own version of Vegan Pepper Pizza. Veggies first, of course!

Sweet and Spicy Vegan Pizza

(makes 10 to 12 servings)

Ingredients:

  • Pizza sauce
  • Pizza dough (We used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 sliced garlic cloves
  • 1 Anaheim pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
  • olive oil (or oil cooking spray)
  • salt, pepper, oregano flakes

Roasting peppers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread out bell peppers, onion, garlic and peppers on lined cookie sheet. Drizzle (lightly) with olive oil and place in oven for 15 minutes -stirring occasionally. Turn oven to broil, remove and place on fresh parchment paper to cool and soak away excess oil.

Assemble & cook the pizza

This step is easy: roll out pizza dough and place on parchment paper covered cookie sheet. Spread with a thin layer of tomato sauce, add roasted veggies, and place in oven for 12 -16 minutes according to the directions for the pizza dough.

Remove from oven, cool and enjoy!

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Wheatballs (Vegan Meatballs)

Eating Vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up all the flavors you love. It simply means you choose a smarter way to eat those flavors. My personal journey to veganism began with food allergies and continued to develop with my aging GI tract. Regardless, eating a plant-based diet has done wonders for my body. Since about 2004, I haven’t been able to tolerate ground beef, so a few years back Chris made Meatless-meatballs for me. Recently however, my tolerance for eggs and dairy have waned so he created savory wheatballs.

Wheatballs (Vegan Meatballs)

(Makes around 30 wheatballs)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb country style bread
  • 1.5 cups soy milk
  • 1/2 cup firm tofu, crumbed

    • For a vegetarian option, grated parmesan may be used
  • 1/2 bunch fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • Cooking oil spray

    • 1 to 2 T vegetable oil may substitute

Egg substitute (Ground flaxseed binding agent)

In a small bowl, combine ground flaxseeds and water. Using a fork or whisk, mix well. Let stand a few minutes and mix again. With time, the mixture will thicken. Continue to mix until mixture obtains the consistency of raw egg whites. Set aside.

The "dough"

Cut bread into thick slices and place in large bowl. Add soy milk and let sit until bread is thoroughly soaked. Squeeze dry bread slices and place in food processor along with tofu, parsley, basil and garlic. Process until the "dough" becomes thick and starts sticking together. The excess soy milk may be discarded.

Depending on the size of your food processor, this may need to be done in batches. If so, split ingredients equally so that the makeup of the dough is fairly consistent.

Return the dough to the large bowl, add the egg substitute, salt and pepper and mix. (Chris’ tools of choice for this step and the next are his hands).

Wheatball assembly and cooking

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Form dough into round balls approximately 2-inches in diameter and place on rack to dry for 15 to 20 minutes. Heat  oiled pan and fry wheatballs until brown on all sides. Place browned wheat balls in oven to continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes. When cooked, the center of the wheatballs will be moist but not soggy.

Enjoy!

We serve our wheat balls over grilled veggies and/or whole grain spaghetti noodles and topped with homemade tomato sauce. Yum!

Wheatballs over grilled veggies and spaghetti

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Review: Hamilton Beach 67650 Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor

After watching the documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, we decided that juicing might be a nice supplement to our diets and after a few hours of research, we chose to buy the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Pro Juice Extractor. The considerations that went into our decision were ease of cleaning, durability of parts, and of course, how well it extracted juice.

Cleaning

I was NOT about to waste my time with a machine that was complicated to take apart or had lots of tiny nooks and crannies where pulp could hide and cultivate bacteria. The HB Big Mouth Pro had neither. Tear down is as simple as unlatching two things and lifting up the pieces. Not including the pulp collector, which should always be lined with a plastic bag during use, there are just 5 pieces to clean: lid, strainer, food pusher, basket, and juice collector. The machine comes with its own brush for quick cleaning of the strainer, and all four others pieces are dishwasher-safe even though their sleek design, devoid of any pesky hard to reach crevices are easily cleaned by hand.

Durability

I must admit, I have not done any experiments to qualitatively determine the HB Big Mouth Pro’s durability, but all the plastic parts seem sturdy enough, and replacements are easy to purchase from the vendor. It seems as if the only component that would have to withstand some stress are the two latches which are conveniently made of metal.

Function

Naturally, this post would be incomplete without mentioning machine functionality, and I’m happy to say that the HB Big Mouth Pro does well. The true test of how "good" a juice extractor is of course, how well it separates juice from pulp. This is most easily determined by assessing how dry the resulting pulp is and for a machine this inexpensive, the pulp is pretty dry. Maybe its the 1.1 HP motor (similar models have 800 watt motors), but it does its job well.

So overall, I would recommend the product to the beginning juicer who not yet ready to invest upwards of $300 or more dollars into a product they may only use as a passing fad. And at just $70, its also competitively priced.

Pros:

  • Clean-up is quick and easy
  • Motor is strong
  • Unit is nice & compact
  • We’ve had great experiences with Hamilton Beach’s customer service
  • Pulp is fairly dry for a lower end machine

Cons:

  • A larger juice collector would be nice
  • Veggies and fruit must be fed slowly
  • Plastic parts can break easily
  • Moderately loud motor
  • Why is the cord so short?
  • Big Mouth isn’t so big.

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Simple Carrot Ginger Soup with Curried Tofu

Both Chris and I love to cook. We especially enjoy veggie heavy entrees as I cannot tolerate most meat (and yet I’m not vegetarian… well, at least not yet).
So as we remain in recovery from the virus from hell, we chose a simplified version of Carrot Ginger Soup with Curried Tofu as this week’s dinner.

Personally, I hate food blogs that show individual steps of cooking without simply listing the recipe, so I will simply show the food and present the recipe.

By the way, we cook dinner once a week on the weekends so the yield for our recipes is always quite large.

Carrot Ginger Soup w/ Toasted Tofu

(makes 10 – 12 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of carrots
  • 2 small onions
  • 6 in fresh ginger
  • 2 T oil (we prefer olive oil)
  • 1 quart carrot juice (I can’t wait to use my new juicer next time we make this!!!)
  • 1 quart water
  • 16 oz of firm tofu

Carrot Ginger Soup

Chop up the carrots, onions, and ginger. Place chopped veggies into large soup pot with one tablespoon of oil and saute until soft. Season with salt and pepper and add the carrot juice and water. Bring all to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until tender (about 20 minutes).

Allow the soup to cool and blend until smooth (an immersion blender works best).

Curried Tofu Cubes

The curried tofu works best if cooked fresh each evening. It takes so little time, but makes a HUGE difference in flavor.

Cut up desired amount of firm tofu into 1 inch cubes. Pat dry and sprinkle all sides with curry powder. Cover the bottom of a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add curried cubes and fry on all sides until brown (around 5 minutes.)

Add tofu to soup and enjoy!

Recipe by HarrisArnoldCollaboration

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