Healthy Vegan Coconut Chia Pudding

Its here!  Its here!  A respite from the rain and gray!  Spring weather has finally ARRIVED in Seattle!  Tulips are blooming and that big ball of fire in the sky is basking us in its warm rays.  Its Seattle, so my standards aren’t high, but we hit 70 the other day!!  70!  Whoop!

The first sign of spring weather makes me a little nutty.  I got all pioneer-y and was tilling up the soil in our little raised garden beds and dreaming about what to plant in them, forgetting that I am a horrible vegetable gardener.

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Every dinner has been made on the grill.  And we have been prolonging staying outdoors as long as possible with the help of our fire bowl and hot tea.  And, most importantly, we have been breaking out the warmish weather treats.  Although this No-Cook Coconut Chia Pudding might taste like a treat, shhhh, its pretty darn good for you.  Tastes little tapioca balls but with all the antioxidants and protein of Chia.  It is made with coconut milk, coconut water, chia seeds, vanilla extract, shredded unsweetened coconut, and a pinch of salt.  Top it with your choice of fruit and honey, and you have a satisfying little snack or dessert.  Best of all, it only takes 5 minutes of prep!!

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Healthy Vegan Coconut Chia Pudding

Active time: 5 minutes                          Total time (including chilling): 3 hours
Servings: 8
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 – 14oz. can coconut milk (approximately 1 3/4 cup)
  • 3/4 cup coconut water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • Fresh berries or other fruit, for serving
  • Honey (optional), for serving

In a large jar or bowl, add chia and shredded coconut.  Pour in coconut milk*, and coconut water.  Stir to combine.  Then Gently stir in vanilla and salt.

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Cover or fasten the lid and refrigerate for 3+ hours for the chia seeds to gel and the pudding to thicken.  Can be stored in refrigerator or up to one week.

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Serve in small bowls topped with fruit and honey if desired:)

(*Note: Use full fat coconut milk.  If coconut milk is separated or has non-liquid sections, lightly warm coconut milk on stove-top while stirring just until combined and liquid throughout.)

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Korean Steak Sandwiches

Have you heard the phrase “hurry-up and wait?”  I’m not sure where it originated, but, in our house, there are days when I feel like this mantra is a running theme.  Scratch that, most days, I feel like it is a running theme.

As I write this, my husband was supposed to be home from work and hour ago so that we could leave town for Easter weekend.  I was just about ready to go when I got a text from him saying he is held up at work and would be at least two more hours.  Blah!!  So much for beating traffic. In case you didn’t know, Seattle traffic sucks.  I rush, rush, rushed all morning to sit here and wait – i.e. The Hurry-up and Wait.

With frequent hold-ups and interruptions like these, the timing of dinner can be challenging.  Sure, I have a repertoire of fridge to table in 25 min. or less meals, but on the not-so-rare occasion that I make something more time consuming, I  find myself playing a lovely game of hurry-up and wait.  Maybe, I just need to invest in a crystal ball, but until then…..

I would like you to meet my new favorite thing: these Korean Steak Sandwiches! They are the perfect combination of slowly marinated meat (read: lots of flavor!!) and lickety-split prep time!

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They take a little bit of planning since the meat marinates overnight, but then its just 10-15 minutes of cook/prep time right when you are ready to eat!  You can even make the spicy, tangy cabbage slaw while the meat is cooking!!

I am not even a fan of red meat, but I am in steak sandwich heaven.  The flavor! The marinade! The slaw!  These are sure to be on our BBQs rotation this summer too!

Korean Steak Sandwiches

Prep Time: 20 minutes + overnight marinating of meat
Servings: 4

Beef and Marinate:

  • 1 cup mirin
  • 2/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and coarsely chopped
  • 1.5 lb. whole flank steak

Cabbage Slaw:

  • 1.5 tbl. fresh ground chili paste (in the Asian foods aisle)
  • 1 tbl. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbl. reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbl. sugar
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded green or napa cabbage

For Serving:

  • Crusty rolls or baguette  (If you live in Seattle area, Grand Central Baking Company’s  Bolo Rolls are awesome here!)
  • Mayonnaise
  • 2 tbl. Cilantro leaves

Do ahead: Combine all ingredients for beef marinate, stir to dissolve sugar.  Add steak, cover and chill at least overnight.

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When ready to serve: Heat a pan or, better yet, a grill to medium-high heat.  Once heated, add the marinated steak, removing excess marinate.  Depending on thickness, the steak will cook for 7-9 minutes on each side for medium rare.

While meat is cooking, chop cabbage and make sauce for slaw by stirring all ingredients to combine.  Toss cabbage in sauce.

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Once steak is cooked, slice steak against the grain.

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Slice rolls or baguette in half.  Slather with mayonnaise.  Assemble sawiches, and garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro. IMG_2593.JPGIMG_2595.JPG

Shakshuka Style Roasted Veggies

Shakshuka, also called Eggs in Purgatory, is a delicious Israeli breakfast dish.  However in the States, this tomato saucy poached egg dish is typically enjoyed for dinner with a big ol’ pile of pita.  My version is a completely un-authentic, Indian curry spiced variation that makes up for its lack of authenticity with aromatic, comfort food bliss.

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First of all, I almost forgot to ask!  Do you have a mess of various leftover veggies in your fridge?  Great!  Grab ’em all.  While you are at it, grab a couple eggs, tofu, some curry paste, salt, olive oil, and we, my internet friends, have ourselves a meal!

I get almost giddy with the smell of curry paste roasting away in the oven.  You can add tomato sauce or canned tomatoes to the mix to make it saucier and more similar to true Shakshuka if you desire.  The dish below as is would more appropriately be named roasted veggies and tofu with curry paste and topped with an egg, but that seemed a bit wordy.

Use whatever veggies you have handy! The ones listed below are suggestions based on what I have used in the past!

Shakshuka Style Roasted Veggies

Total Time: 35 minutes                       Active Time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4
  • 4 carrots, topped and peeled, quartered lengthwise, then chopped
  • 8-10 asparagus spears halved lengthwise, then chopped
  • 1/2 large onion, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, kale, or swiss chard
  • 2 tbl. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 cup extra firm tofu, cubed in 1/2 in pieces
  • 2-3 tsp. red or yellow curry paste, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • (Optional: 14oz. can of pureed tomato)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place carrots, asparagus, and onion on large baking sheet.  Add olive oil and salt.  Toss to coat thoroughly before placing in the oven.  Roast for 10-15 minutes, until starting to take on color.  Remove from oven.

Transfer roasted veggies to a casserole dish, cast iron pan, ceramic coated dutch oven or other baking dish.  Toss spinach with veggies in baking dish at this time.  Add 1.5-2.5 tsp. curry powder, depending how spicy you want it to be, and stir to coat veggies.*  (*If adding, you will add the tomato puree at this point as well.)

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Place tofu on baking sheet where veggies had been.  Add 1/2 tsp. curry paste and toss to coat tofu.  Bake tofu for 5 minutes in oven.

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Remove tofu from oven and gently toss with veggies in baking dish.

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Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.

Gently crack eggs on top of vegetable mixture so as not to break the yolks.   You want the  eggs dispersed over the top of mixture.  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the egg whites are no longer clear.

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Serve immediately.  While eating, you will want to break your yolks over the top of the veggies for extra sauciness;)

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No-Bake Granola Bars

If you tell me that something can be made in 5 minutes or less, I will look at you skeptically and ask if it comes with with a sous chef to do the prep work for me too?  I want a recipe that is the real-people, real-time 5 minutes.  Not the if-I-have-a-sous-chef to chop, measure, and prep everything for me 5 minutes.  Read: A recipe that takes a whole lot longer than five minutes for those of us in normal people land.

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Fast forward to these no-bake granola bars.  Well ya’ll, you can glare at me skeptically if you want, but this is a TRUE 5-minute granola bar recipe that is made without refined sugar, and gives you tons of sustained energy from oats and lots of protein.  I know that you can buy granola bars, but trust me these are cheaper, tastier, and you control EXACTLY what goes into them (read: protein, whole grains, and natural sweeteners) and exactly what does NOT (read: preservatives and refined sugar).  Did I mention that they are completely customizable to your family’s preferences?  My favorite mix-ins are unsweetened dried cherries, but you can add just about anything!  Dried fruit*, nuts, flax seeds, cacao nibs, dried coconut, or a combination would all be quite tasty.  I even added bits of dark chocolate once when I had a sweet tooth. (*If you are trying to avoid added sugar, be careful that the dried fruit you select does not contain added sugar.  Trader Joe’s has some good “no sugar added” options.)

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Most days, my breakfast routine is not reminiscent of the photo above.  Its a little bit more: put granola bar in plastic baggy, pour tea in travel mug, grab computer bag while running out the door un-mascara-ed.  These are the best grab-n-g0 breakfast I know of.  These bars fill me up and all that protein keeps me full for a good long time!  They are, of course, an excellent snack – its a granola bar after-all.  Also, they are a great healthy way to satisfy a mid-afternoon sweet-tooth;)

For the past few months, there has been a batch of these in my fridge at all times.  Trust me, I am not “that person” who always has homemade granola or fresh baked cookies at the ready, but these only take 5-MINUTES!  And, luckily, 5 minutes for something this satisfying (and handy) is just my speed.

I am addicted and, until there is a 12-step program to cure me of this 5 minute, no-bake granola bar awesomeness, I will not stop.  Despite this development, I think you should join me in the world of never-ending No-Bake Granola Bars.

No-Bake Granola Bars

Total time: 5 minutes

Servings 8-12 (depending on size of bars)

  • 3/4 cup natural peanut butter or almond butter (the kind with oil separation)
  • 2 tbl. coconut oil
  • 2 tbl. molasses
  • 1 tbl. honey (or more if you prefer sweeter)
  • 2 cups oats (I prefer the texture of regular oats, not quick oats.)
  • 1/2 cup total of mix-ins of your choice (i.e. dried fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, cacao, flax)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir just until melted enough to combine (about 2 minutes).

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Remove from heat and stir in oats one 1/2 cup at a time.

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Finally stir in mix-ins.

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Pour mixture into a glass loaf pan for thicker bars or a glass 8×8 inch pan for thinner bars.  Cover and store in fridge:)

 

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Curry Spiced Avocado Chickpea Salad Pitas

Pita, pita, pita.  Love it.  But, aside from dip it in hummus and hope that someone makes me a gyro, I never know what to do with it.

After a dinner with the fam, that consisted of moroccan chicken brochettes, lots of sauces, hummus, chopped tomatoes, mint leaves, and, you guessed it, pita.  Now, rest assured, my family can eat.  Leftovers are never really an issue.  Knowing this propensity, I stared at the store shelf for far to long trying to estimate how much pita to purchase.  Thoughts like “if we eat it with hummus before dinner, then probably this much.” And, “But, if we only eat it with the meal, maybe this much?”running through my head.  So I bought for the former and the latter occurred.  The result: lots of leftover pita.

Knowing there had to be a solution other than dipping it in gobs of hummus, this Curry spiced Avocado Chickpea Salad was born.  This egg salad texture but with an entirely mediterranean flavor profile.  This is my favorite type of “______ salad” sandwich filling.  EVER.

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The filling itself if vegan, vegetarian, and GF friendly.  While that may be music to some of your ears, I can’t say generally speaking that I share the sentiment.  In the interest of full disclosure, when I see a recipe that has the above dietary labels, I automatically disregard it assuming that it will fall into one of two categories: flavorless mush or cardboard-esque.  And, while this recipe has a certain degree of “mush” since this falls into the salad sandwich category, it certainly is NOT flavorless (thanks to curry spices and chopped mint leaves) or textureless (thanks to whole chickpeas and chopped olives).

So, break out the pita and get ready!  You can customize this recipe many different ways, but here is how it is done in our house…

Curry Spiced Avocado Chickpea Salad

5 minutes                                        4 servings

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), divided
  • 1/4 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 2 tbl. finely chopped mint leaves (or a combination of mint with cilantro or parsley)
  • 5 finely chopped kalamata olives
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pita for serving

Additional toppings:

  • chopped tomatoes
  • mint leaves
  • greens like arugula or spinach
  • feta

Remove avocado skin and pit.  Lightly mash avocado in large mixing bowl.  IMG_2443.jpg

Thoroughly rinse chickpeas.  Add around 3/4 of the chickpeas to the avocado. IMG_2444.jpg

Add curry spice, turmeric, and mint (or other chopped herb mixture).  IMG_2445.jpg

Mash until well combined.

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Add finely chopped olives.  IMG_2447.jpg

Add remaining chickpeas. Gently stir to combine (without mashing the additional chickpeas).

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Place in pita and top with chopped tomatoes, mint leaves, other greens.

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Add a sprinkle of feta if desired.

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Avocado Toasts with Poached Eggs

I love brunch!! Breakfast is awesome, but it usually ends up more about efficiency than execution or awesomeness.  My typical breakfasts are a rotating cycle of yogurt and granola, oatmeal, apple slices and peanut butter, and smoothies.  Ya know, easy things that take less than 5 minutes and fuel you up in a sufficient & efficient manner.  They may do the trick on a week-day morning, but none of these items are “brunch worthy.”

Brunch should be moderately more time consuming, have a slightly impressive presentation, require guest participation/customization, and be easy to serve in large quantities.

Pancakes, waffles, or french toast bars are brunch mainstays with good reason!  Customizable toppings mean there is something for everyone. And, if you whip out the griddle, you can crank out some serious volume!  Or there is always the egg casserole option (the spongy Easter brunch tradition and my least favorite).  Who can forget the classic omelette bar, but lets face it, it’s hard to make omelette orders for a large group!

Enter the Avocado Toast with Poached Eggs.

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A post on a recipe where the 3 main ingredients are in the title seems a little unnecessary, but I love this dish as a brunch for so many reasons!  First, this recipe is impossible to mess up….  Ok, well maybe not impossible, since poaching eggs isn’t always as easy as it sounds.  Secondly, everyone can participate in its creation by delegating the toasting, chopping, and assembly.  When everyone is gathered around my kitchen island working on a component of the meal, it feels like the event is more about the coffee, tea, and company than it does about the elaborate prep-work of an intentionally impressive spread.  I love this approach whether its family who comes over all the time or new friends who aren’t an sure-footed in the environment – nothing breaks the ice like teamwork.  Depending on the crowd, the dynamic may differ but the result is the same: a low key, low pressure brunch.

Delegating this meal is simple.  I usually poach the eggs and delegate the other tasks, but if in the presence of an egg poaching pro, I am happy to step aside!  Cutting crusty french bread and slicing avocado are both simple, delegate-able tasks.  So is manning, checking, and flipping the toast slices under the oven broiler.  Final assembly and seasoning is a snap! With a couple words of instruction, my kitchen-challenged brother was topping these with the final seasonings like a pro!  Sometimes I wonder why I bother with elaborate menus and impressive spreads.  This is more fun and just as tasty.

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Even if you have a large crowd, this recipe will work!  A large cookie sheet and the broiler of your oven, allows you to toast many servings at once.  If you need to poach eggs in batches, a shallow baking dish like a 9×13 covered in foil will keep the eggs the right amount of warm, or stick the 9×13 in a 200 degree oven if you are concerned.

On a tangental note: One quick word to those who feel that all toast is created equal.  I am here to bust that bubble and tell you that only a French-style crusty loaf will do.  No sandwich bread.  Not even nutty, seedy whole wheat (although in other circumstances, I love whole wheat toast).  Do as the Parisians do and make a special trip if you have to.  With simple dishes like this, quality matters even more!

Avocado Toasts with Poached Eggs

Servings: Totally customizable, but the quantities below are based on 4 servings

Serving suggestion: one egg per toast, two toasts per guest

Total time: 10 minutes (unless working in batches for large group)

  • 1 crusty loaf of bread, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 large avocados
  • 8 eggs (I prefer the taste of grain-fed, organic brown eggs)
  • Water
  • 2 tsp. white vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Smoked Paprika

In a large skillet, add enough water to measure a depth of approximately 3/4-1 inch.  Add in 2 tsp. vinegar and bring to a slow simmer and cover pan.

While water is being brought to a simmer, arrange toasts on large baking sheet.  Move oven rack to upper position.

Chop avocados into thin slices or mash, if you prefer.

Poach eggs. Use a large kitchen ladle to cup the egg while immersing in the water.  Keep egg inside ladle to help it keep its shape during the first few seconds of poaching.  Do not crowd the pan.  My skillet can cook about 4-5 eggs at once.  Depending on the size of your group, this will likely require working in batches or using two large skillets to prep eggs.  Watch eggs closely and make sure they aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.  Eggs will cook the most quickly with the lid of the pan on.  After about 90 seconds flip the eggs.  And cook for around 30 more seconds.  Transfer to foil covered 9×13.

While eggs are poaching, use the broiler to make the toasts.  Flipping after the top side is sufficiently toasted.

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Top the toasts with around 1/8-1/4 avocado per slice of toast and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Add one poached egg to the top, another sprinkle of salt and petter, and a generous sprinkling of smoked paprika.

Serve immediately!

 

 

 

Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo

Question: Now truly, who doesn’t love a good Fettuccine Alfredo?

Not many people I know.

Question: Who loves the massive amounts of calories and empty carbs that typically accompany this dish?

Hmm…. I don’t see nodding heads.  Me neither.

The truth is that I love Alfredo sauce, and since I’m italian, I think my veins are even made out of pasta.  But, in this land of healthy eating, Alfredo sauce and pasta don’t get a seat at the table.  Until now…..

Pull out that immersion blender and get ready to puree some spinach, kale, avocado, and a little plain yogurt or low fat sour cream.  Because my friends, not only is this dish healthier, but it is also easier!!!  No finicky consistency to worry about here!

And what about the noodles?  Whole wheat fettuccine or linguine noodles are easy to come by these days (these are what I usually use), or treat yourself and go for traditional fresh hand-cut fettuccine noodles (for extra deliciousness!).

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Well if this isn’t the strangest mishmash of ingredients known to man, then I don’t know what is.  Oh my goodness!  But, please, please, don’t judge this book by its  very, very green cover because I cannot even explain how tasty this dish is.  Although it is mostly vegetables, it tastes nothing like vegetables. I promise!  Its just creamy, saucy goodness over here.  It is the unicorn of pastas: healthy and tasty!  Excuse me while I slurp up some more noodles.  *Sauce dripping from chin.*

I feel like a formal introduction is probably necessary here.  Ya’ll meet the guilt-less pasta dish that is kid, vegetable-hater, picky-eater, & picky-husband approved.  Now that we are all acquainted…..

Spinach Fettuccine Alfredo

Total time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2 as a main, 4 as a side

Special Equipment: Immersion Blender

  • 2 cups packed fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup packed chopped flat leaf kale
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water, one tbl. at a time
  • 1 tsp. salt, divided
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbl. butter
  • 2 tbl. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or low fat sour cream
  • 1 avocado, lightly mashed
  • 8oz. whole wheat fettuccine or linguine noodles (cooked to al dente)
  • Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large skillet, add spinach, kale, garlic, 1/4 tsp. salt, about 1/2 of water.  Cook on medium with lid closed,  tossing occasionally until greens have turned a nice dark green color.

Transfer greens and all cooking liquids to a heat proof mixing container.  Using immersion blender, blend until smooth and well integrated (or use a traditional blender).  This will take less than a minute.

Reduce heat to low, and using the same skillet melt the butter.  When melted, whisk in flour.  Slowly whisk in blended greens mixture.  Add more water if necessary.

Remove from heat and add avocado.  Blend with immersion blender until combined.  Then mix in sour cream or yogurt.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Finally toss sauce with noodles and top with parmesan cheese.   

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