Veggie Lover’s Pizza with a Crispy Thin Crust and Homemade Sauce

crispy-pizza

In my opinion, no matter what your favorite pizza toppings are, the crust and the sauce will always be a crucial common denominator. The sauce should be made, at least in part, with fresh tomatoes, with plenty of garlic and herbs. The dough should be thin, crispy, and yet tender. (Sorry we are not taking any counter-arguments against these two rules for PROPER pizza at this time, you gluttonous deep-dish freaks.)

After a lot of experimentation, and many hits and misses, I was so pleased by how these turned out. And especially pleased that they were created without the need for special equipment like the stand mixer or a pizza stone. I used a 12″ oven-safe cast iron pan. As for toppings, I’m sure that is something you’ll want to personalize, as you can see from the photos, I made EVERYTHING pizzas. This included mushrooms, eggplants, kabocha squash, olives, peppers, corn, jalapeños, tomatoes, and fresh basil. If you are looking for ideas, here are some other combos I really like:

  • sliced shallots, sage, and thinly sliced mushrooms tossed in balsamic and black pepper
  • BBQ sauce, cilantro, roasted sweet potato, and red onions
  • Pesto and sliced tomatoes
  • jalapeño, caramelized onions and pineapple

Also pictured here, I used my cashew alfredo sauce and dropped blobs of it over the sauce, then spread them out a bit with the back of a spoon. It does add a little creaminess but I think the pizza is just as good without it!

Homemade Veggie Lover’s Pizza

Makes two 12″ pizzas

sauce*: 

4 big ripe beefsteak tomatoes

1/2 cup tomato paste

1 shallot, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

4 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced

5 sprigs basil

5 sprigs oregano

5 sprigs Italian parsley

some fresh ground pepper

You can always go the traditional route of dropping your tomatoes into boiling water for a few minutes and then plunging them into ice water to remove the peel. However, I prefer a different method. Chop each tomato in half and scoop out the seeds. Then, holding a cheese grater over a medium sized sauce pan, simply grate the pulp of the tomato right into, the pan, using it’s skin to protect your fingers until there is no pulp left. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes and by the end you have a tidy little pile of perfectly shredded tomato in your pan. Turn the heat on to medium and add the tomato paste, shallot, and salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring every couple minutes.

During this time is a great opportunity to chop or prepare any toppings you may want to use and have them standing by.

*Note, this sauce recipe makes enough sauce for 4 pizzas, if I’m going to the trouble of making sauce from scratch, I like to make extra to use for pasta, lasagnas, whatever you might want it for the rest of the week! If you want to cut the recipe in half, just make sure to use a smaller sauce pan so it doesn’t burn from too much surface area.

Pizza Dough

1 package rapid rise yeast

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)

2 tsp sugar

2.5 cups of flour, plus one more cup for rolling

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1/2 cup for drizzling and oiling the pan

1/4 cup corn meal

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Put your 10″-12″ cast iron pan that you plan to use into the oven as it heats. In a large bowl, combine the yeast, water, and sugar, and set aside for about 10 minutes to foam up. After ten minutes stir in the 2.5 cups of flour, salt, and 1/3 cup olive oil. Stir with a big spoon or fork until really well combined and pulling away from the sides of the bowl.

Sprinkle a generous amount of flour onto your work surface, knead the dough until it becomes smooth and doesn’t stick to your fingers as easily, adding more flour as needed. Just a couple of minutes. Using your fingers, start to press the dough into a disc shape.

This is basically what I considered war with my dough, it took forever to get right and only my fingers seemed to do the trick, not a rolling pin. Once it finally starts to obey and lay flat to approximately 10″-12″, carefully pull the cast iron pan out of the oven and drizzle it with some oil. Sprinkle the cornmeal over that. From here you should try to work relatively fast and try to get it into the oven as quickly as possible. Ever-so-carefully, lift your dough up and plop it into the pan, gently pressing it into place so that it retains it’s shape. Some have suggested folding it in half, then in half again, then unfolding it in the pan. I have found that to be a disaster. So just gently slide your hands under it and lay it down gingerly, like an expensive beaded dress.

From here, the crispiness is achieved by lightly drizzling olive oil around the edges of the crust and using the back of a spoon to gently smear it all over. You by no means have to use this much oil, it just depends on a waistline:crispiness internal dialogue that only you can have with yourself!

After that, spoon a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce over the dough and use a spoon to spread it evenly and thinly. Arrange your toppings on top of the sauce and then pop the pan in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye for that perfect golden color on the edges.

When you pull it out of the oven, use a spatula to lift and slide the whole pizza onto a big plate. Wait a minute or two to cool then slice and enjoy!!!!

crispy-edge-pizza

pizza

Before going in the oven

pizza-party

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Chinese Chick’n Salad: A Flavor Explosion

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Sometimes you get a very serious craving and nothing else can get done until it’s satisfied. That happened to me with this Chinese Chick’n salad. Whether you chose to use faux chicken, some sesame baked tofu, or no protein at all, the salad itself also shines bright all on its own. I just love Gardein crispy tenders. They are like crack. Trader Joe’s makes a version of them as well. What can I say, I’m a sucker for vegan junk food.

I swapped out the traditional romaine for lacinato kale to give it some richer color and a formidable CRUNCH! The great thing about this salad as well, is that it holds up in the fridge, even if it’s already been dressed. This makes it a great leftovers-for-lunch-the-next-day meal. It’s also quick to throw together. And since we already have the faux chicken strips, this salad needed some healthy upgrades to off-set the greasy breaded tenders. This updated version of the salad gets a lot of added pizazz with a generous amount of fresh herbs. Gone are the canned syrup-soaked mandarin oranges and deep fried wonton strips. In their place we have fresh tangerine segments and crushed peanuts. Spicy, cool, nutty, crunchy, tangy, sweet, and refreshing, try the flavor explosion for yourself!

Chinese Chick’n Salad: A Flavor Explosion

Makes about 4 servings

1/2 head of green cabbage, finely shredded

10 leaves of lacinato kale, stems removed and finely shredded

1 cup shredded carrots

1 bunch cilantro, stems removed and leaves chopped (about 12 sprigs)

1 bunch mint, stems removed and leaves chopped (about 12 sprigs)

1/2 bell, finely chopped

1/2 cup peanuts, crushed

12 gardein crispy tenders, or protein of your choice

1-2 tangerines, peeled and sectioned

Chinese Chick’n Salad Dressing:

1/3 cup rice vinegar

2.5 tbs peanut butter

2 tsp hot sesame oil

2.5 tb agave

1 tb coconut oil

Cook the Gardein strips according to the package. I put mine on a foil lined pan in the toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Toss all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. Taste it and adjust any flavors as needed. Pour the sauce over the salad and toss really well. The salad will shrink a bit in size as you toss so don’t worry if it seems like a huge amount of veggies when you start!

Once cooked, slice up the chicken strips.

To serve, put a big heap of salad on each plate. Top with chicken strips and tangerine segments. Sprinkle the crushed peanuts on top. DIG IN!

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Berry and Avocado Summer Salad with Barbecued Tofu

berry avocado salad

I have been making this salad everyday for a couple of weeks now. It has all the perfect components for a summer dinner. The seasonal ingredients, the sweet and savory flavors, the cold ingredients easily thrown together in the kitchen, the hot ingredients cooked outside on the grill to keep your house cool, the bright happy colors- It’s summer in a bowl! If you don’t think you like tofu, you might not have tried it barbecued. I wouldn’t even say that it particularly tastes like barbecue sauce or feels like tofu. The sugar in the sauce caramelizes to a savory taste and the tofu firms up for a satisfyingly chewier texture. I like it better than tofu prepared any other way. This is an easy salad to throw together when you are having people over for dinner because it’s quick and looks so pretty. It is also packed with protein and  many healthy nutrients!

Berry and Avocado Summer Salad with Barbecued Tofu

Serves 2

6 oz of organic super firm tofu

1/4 cup barbecue sauce of your choice, or try this recipe if you want to make it from scratch!

3 cups baby arugula

6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1 sprig of dill, finely chopped

2 green onions, finely chopped

1/3 red bell pepper, very finely chopped

5 strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup blueberries

1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced

1/3 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup balsamic reduction (you can buy this at the store- usually labeled balsamic glaze- or make it by simmering balsamic vinegar over low heat until it thickens, about 15 minutes)

Optional: 1/4 cup olive oil (I found that the fat from the avocados and walnuts was enough fat for me but to each her own!)

 

If you have bought a block of tofu, slice off two 1/2″ thick slabs, and slather them in the barbecue sauce. Heat up the grill to medium high heat and grease it with a little oil. Once the grill is piping hot, lay the tofu slabs on there and grill for about 10 minutes per side, or until you get those nice dark grill marks.  If you don’t have a grill, you can put them in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. I even make these in my toaster oven to keep the heat in the kitchen to a minimum.

While the tofu is cooking, get a big serving plate and spread out the arugula. On top of the arugula, sprinkle the basil, dill, green onions, and bell pepper evenly. Then, layer the strawberries and blue berries evenly. Do the same for the avocado and walnuts. I like to make a nice pattern and space everything out in an even, radial design. But, if you are not crazy like me and just throw everything on there, it will still be just as pretty, haha.

Finally, drizzle with the balsamic reduction and serve with the barbecued tofu slab on top. If you want you can slice the tofu up, which is what I did after taking the picture.

Happy Summer!

 

berry avocado summer salad (1)

Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce Plus a Bonus Vegan Alfredo Sauce Recipe

spaghetti with marinara (1)

What is a life without pasta, am I right? It would be a sad thing indeed. And a bowl of pasta with a good marinara sauce is such a simple and happy food. The only downside? I personally gain five pounds when I so much as see the word pasta on a menu. Others of you I know have issues with gluten, or rightfully hate the cardboard taste of whole wheat pasta. Yes, it’s a cruel, cruel world we live in. So what is a person to do who dreams of eating pasta everyday while proudly squeezing into a tiny bikini? The answer is Zoodles. Zucchini noodles that is.

I was skeptical of zucchini noodles at first because I don’t particularly like the taste of cooked zucchini, (it tastes like fishy rotten garbage to me.) I also am not a huge fan of spaghetti squash, (soggy) and all those lovely pastas made with grain alternatives like quinoa and brown rice still have that high-carb weight gain effect on me as regular pasta. But then I got a spiralizer and discovered zucchini anew! This tool costs like $13 and works great on zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, etc to make beautiful angel hair-like tendrils. I mean, come on, here is one for $8, just get one. They are the most fun kitchen tool ever! (By the way, I have no affiliation to any brand, I just did a quick google search and found this one, buy any spiralizer you like!)

I have been making zoodles almost every single day for lunch and just tossing them in different kinds of sauces to change it up. (If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you will find a ‘Category’ drop down menu. Select the category of “Sauces, Dressings, and Marinades” and you will find 20 other sauce recipes!) Zucchinis are the perfect weight-loss food. They have a high water content and only 33 calories each, plus tons of vitamin C. Eating a big bowl of zucchini noodles is a great way to feel full and satisfied while burning fat. I am definitely seeing the difference on the scale.

There are two ways you can eat zoodles- raw or cooked. Because I live in the 100 degree weather of Los Angeles and I love raw food, I tend to just eat them raw. They have a little crunch and the high content of water makes me feel full. However, you can also heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and toss them with tongs till they are hot and softened. This is where they REALLY take on the roll of pasta as the texture transforms in the pan

The same thing goes for my marinara sauce. This sauce is geared toward those who strive to eat a largely raw food diet, because we all know how good for you raw veggies are! However, this sauce heats up beautifully and works great on pizza or in lasagna too.

Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, zucchini noodles and marinara? Sounds boring. So you want to take it to the next level? You really wanna go for that red, white, and green, monster bowl of Italian deliciousness?  Try adding some vegan alfredo and pesto sauce to  your marinara zoodles for an incredibly creamy and satisfying meal.

Zucchini Spaghetti with Marinara 

Makes 2 servings

6 medium zucchinis, peeled and spiralized

Marinara:

makes about 1.5 cups

6 roma tomatoes, with tough stem ends removed

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes and then drained

6 cloves of garlic

1 tsp salt

1 sprig each of parsley, basil, and oregano

1 medjool date, pitted

After spiralizing the zucchinis, sprinkle a little salt on them and set them aside in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. They release a lot of water, which can dilute the sauce, so I like to let them drain for a bit, and right before serving a give them a little squeeze to release the moisture.

Combine all the marinara ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. So easy!

Ready to take it to the next level?

Vegan Alfredo Sauce

makes a little over 1.5 cups

1 cups raw cashews, soaked for a few hours in a bowl of water to soften. Rinsed and drained

1 tbs nutritional yeast

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4-1/2 tsp salt depending on your preference

1/4 tsp pepper

1 tbs olive oil

a pinch of nutmeg

1/2 cup water

optional: 1 clove garlic

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until very, very smooth.  If it’s not smooth enough, add another tablespoon or two of water until you get a perfectly smooth consistency.

And finally, the pesto recipe can be found right here!

Enjoy!

Italian flag pasta

zucchini pasta

Creamy Mac n’ Cheese

mac n' cheez

Oh Kraft Mac n’ Cheese. The mystery of its Day-Glo orange color, the flood of nostalgia from its delicious orange powder, the squelching sound of the sauce filling the hollows of the noodles as you stir– it’s all disgustingly good. Except, of course, the fact that it’s basically processed poison. From the shit storm of chemicals and food dyes, to the controversial palm oil (goodbye orangutan habitats and rainforests), the outrageous amount of salt and fat, and of course, the dehydrated bodily fluids from mistreated animals. Way to kill my mac n’ cheese reverie Kraft! Jeez…

Oh well, there are other cruelty-free options out there on the shelves like those from Daiya or Earth Balance, but to be honest, they are gross. Fake cheese in general still has a long way to go. In my opinion the best thing you can do is not try to make ‘fake’ cheese sauce, but use real, whole ingredients to make a WHOLESOME cheesy sauce. Sure, it’s still aiming to be that flavor that you know and love, but it’s taking the whole food route, instead of the chemical one. The result is much more palatable and WAYYYYYY healthier. I think this recipe tastes way more like the mac n’cheese I grew up on than those store-bought fake cheese alternatives.

There was one sure-fire test that I knew this sauce had to pass before I could post this recipe. It had to pass muster with the only person I know who had consumed as much poundage of Kraft Mac n’Cheese growing up as I did myself– that is, my brother.

I’m proud to say that after tasting a spoonful of sauce I got an enthusiastic, “This is what I’m having for dinner, make me a bowl now!” In other words, two thumbs up. I have to humbly agree, it’s delicious. It doesn’t taste ‘fake’. Also, it just so happens to have 28 grams of protein in the whole recipe of sauce. That means that if you compare it to a serving size of Kraft’s, you get 10 grams of protein per serving compared to Kraft’s 7 grams. And let’s face it, you are going to eat 2 servings right!? The other great thing is that this recipe doesn’t use any fake butter or added oil, so it’s very low in fat! One more bonus, nutritional yeast is full of B vitamins, (what up B12) folic acid, and other lovelies. Throw in some quinoa pasta to the equation and you have yourself an actual, whole food, healthy and delicious dinner. It’s a mac n’ cheezy miracle.

Creamy Mac n’ Cheese

Makes 6 servings

3 cups of dry macaroni (or pasta shape of your choice)

1 small peeled sweet potato (hello orange color!) peeled and diced

1 small yellow onion, roughly chopped

1/2 cup of raw cashews (soaked in water for an hour, then rinsed and drained)

1/4 cup soy milk (or whatever non-dairy milk you like best)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (found at any health food store or online, this ingredient is KEY)

1/4-1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid

1-2 tsp yellow mustard

1-2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 pinch of paprika

1 pinch of cayenne

Garnish: a few tablespoons of minced chives

Optional Bread Crumb Topping:

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2 tbs olive oil (disclaimer: this partially negates those low-fat claims above)

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp black pepper

 

First off, cook pasta according to its package, which generally entails throwing it into a pot of boiling water for about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, fill another small pot with about 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the chopped sweet potato and onion and boil until fork tender, mine took about 15 minutes. When done, drain them from the water, while making sure to catch about a cup of the cooking liquid.

In a blender, combine the sweet potatoes, onions, cashews, soy milk, the nutritional yeast, 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, 1 tsp of mustard, and 1 tsp of salt. Add the garlic, paprika, and cayenne. Blend it until very smooth. Give it a little taste, you might want to add another teaspoon of mustard to make it tangier, and another 1/2 tsp of salt, depending on your own taste. You might want to add another 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. (I always liked a super thick sauce while my husband likes a thinner sauce, so it’s up to your own tastes!)

Get out a 9″x 13″ baking dish and pour in the cooked pasta. Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss them together until thoroughly combined. You can either consider yourself done here or go for the topping!

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine all the topping ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Sprinkle the topping over the mac n’ cheese and put in the oven. Keep a close eye and take out when the bread crumbs have turned a nice golden brown.

Sprinkle with minced chives and enjoy!

P.S. This cheese sauce can be used on more than just pasta, pour it over broccoli or throw in some minced jalapeños and red bell peppers, maybe even some vegan butter and chili powder and pour it over tortilla chips for some epic vegan nachos!!!!!

 

vegan mac n'cheese

 

 

The California Sandwich

the california sandwich (1)

Besides the perfect weather, striking landscapes, and culture of positivity and innovation, one of the best things about being a Californian is the food. Whenever I travel to another state I am reminded of how spoiled I am to live in this land of  plenty, and how much I depend on it. My husband and I are leaving on a 3 week road trip in a few days to travel the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We are going to drive up the coast of California, through Oregon to Portland, maybe even up into Washington, then through Idaho to Wyoming, visiting Yellowstone National Park, then Utah and down to Arizona and the Grand Canyon, and back through Nevada and home again. Then we will catch a flight to Kauai for another week. One whole month on the road with as many national parks and waterfalls as we can find! We will camp and back pack through the mainland, then do Airbnb rentals in Hawaii. It is going to be an amazing month! I can’t wait to see the beauty our country has to offer.
Having said that, I know that life on the road means lots of camping food like trail mix and canned beans. We are trying to do the whole trip on the cheap. So with a few days left before we depart, I wanted to treat myself to the bounty that Los Angeles and California has to offer, which is when I came up with the California Sandwich.

 

California cuisine is diverse and covers everything from barbecue to fine french fusion, but there are some common themes that have emerged over the last 20 years or so. Being one of the main sources of produce for the whole country, California cuisine is foremost fresh and vegetable-centric. The emphasis on local, seasonal fruits and vegetables harmonizes perfectly with our liberal-leaning, health-conscious demand for organic and sustainable food. We love to take casual foods like burgers, pizza, and sandwiches and turn them into gourmet delicacies that surprise and excite the senses. We love to ‘fancify’ the little details of a dish to make them cool and new. We also love to nail the presentation, we’re vain like that. And, our on-the-go culture is the perfect place for hand-held food to be eaten on the road, on a hike, and generally outside under the sun. This sandwich is my personal interpretation of all those things.
Starting with locally baked La Brea Bakery ciabatta and topped with seasonal California grown veggies, I notched it up with unusually gourmet details like the garlic-basil mayo, added local touches like a splash of Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, and of course the star of the show is the California Hass avocado. I just so happened to have some California State Golden Poppy toothpicks to top it off and I highly recommend eating this creation poolside and under the sun! I hope you’ll try it and get a taste of the golden state for yourself! Peace out dudes.

 

The California Sandwich

Makes 2 sandwiches

1/2 loaf ciabatta bread, sliced into 2 loafs, each with a top and bottom

2 tbs vegan mayo (I like Hampton Creek’s ‘Just Mayo’, a San Francisco based innovator!)

2 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a garlic press

2 big basil leaves, minced (I used some from my own garden)

1 tbs olive oil

2 shallots, finely sliced

a splash of white wine

a dash of salt

2 big leaves of romaine, finely shredded

1 hass avocado, very thinly sliced

1 big tomato, very thinly sliced

a drizzle of balsamic reduction (I got this already made in a squeeze bottle at the grocery store but you can easily make it yourself by heating up some balsamic vinegar over low heat on the stove until it becomes thick and sticky.)

More salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Start by toasting the bread or even better, throw it on a hot outdoor grill for a few minutes until it’s toasty. Set aside.

Combine the mayo, garlic and basil in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a small pan over low heat and add the shallots. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and add the salt. Cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring to prevent burning. You want to cook them until nice and golden.

I split all the ingredients in half to make two sandwiches. (I ate both, that’s right!) When ready to assemble, start with the bottom half of the bread and slather with the mayo mixture. Sprinkle on the caramelized onions. Then, add the romaine lettuce. Top the lettuce with the avocado slices, then the tomato slices. Finally, finish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and some final salt and pepper before topping with the other half of bread. You’ll notice we are alternating ‘sticky’ and ‘wet’ layers, so it all holds together better. To see a cool timelapse video of the sandwich assembly, check out my instagram post

And there it is! A taste of the golden state before your very eyes. I hope you like it as much as I do!

For similar recipes, check out my beloved bruschetta or BLT!

openface california sandwichcalifornia sandwich.JPG

 

 

 

Mushroom Tacos with Blackened Corn, Avocado, and Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Mushroom Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo! I love this day because I love all things Mexican food, but especially TACOS. They are the perfect food. Hand-held little bundles of joy. Versatile, flavorful, a happy food. Tacos can mean something different to every person. Tacos are life!

Okay I’ll calm down now. So to me, the perfect taco has multiple levels of flavors and textures: savory, sweet, crunchy, soft, fresh, salty, tart, spicy, creamy, dreamy, surprising, nostalgic… damn I’m getting carried away again.

These tacos in particular are going for a uniquely fresh California cuisine flavor. The savory and spicy mushrooms pair well with the sweet pickled cabbage. I hope these brighten up your Cinco de Mayo, or maybe just your next Sunday dinner. Want to create a whole taco fiesta? Check out my other ‘Cinco’ celebration recipes: Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos, Jackfruit Tacos, Perfect GuacamoleMini Chimichangas, and Cowboy Caviar.

Mushroom Tacos with Grilled Corn, Avocado, and Sweet Pickled Cabbage

Serves 4 (8 tacos)

1/4 head purple cabbage, thinly shredded

a 5:1 mixture of vinegar to agave, enough to submerge shredded cabbage

2 ears of corn

3 tbs olive oil

6 oz or about 15 cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 large shallots

1/4 tsp each of cumin, chipotle powder, paprika, and black pepper

10 cloves garlic, minced (I used a garlic press)

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup white wine

salt to taste

1 avocado, thinly sliced

8 small corn tortillas (the 4″ kind) you can double up if they feel delicate.

cilantro and lime wedges to garnish

 

First, combine the shredded cabbage and vinegar/agave mixture in a jar or bowl and set aside in the fridge, you will have extra left over for salads and sandwiches (so good.)

Then, tear the husks off the corn cobs and boil them in water for about 10 minutes. Once it is done and cooled, I like to hold it over my stovetop flame with tongs, to get some nice char on it. You can also do this with just raw corn instead of boiling it, it’ll be just a little less tender. You can also throw them on a hot barbecue grill until blackened. Lastly, slice it off the cob and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the mushrooms and onion, cook stirring about 5 minutes. Next add the spices and cook another minute, then the balsamic, cooking another 2 minutes. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan, scraping as you stir with a spatula, then the salt. Taste to adjust seasoning. Turn off the flame.

Lay each tortilla over a burner on your stove set to low, just about 10 seconds per side to heat them up.

Add a scoop of the mushroom mixture, a slice of avocado, a scoop of blackened corn, and a few strips of pickled cabbage to each tortilla. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

mexican red lentil stew

Hello food lovers! I am really proud to share this one with you guys. It’s pretty much the best stew I’ve ever made. It tastes like tortilla soup- hearty and filling, but without the empty calories from the tortillas. The texture of the lentils really mimics that of the tortillas, but let’s be real, I added some tortilla chips on top after taking this picture. 🙂

In addition to being totally delicious, this stew is also very filling, totally healthy, and costs about $1.50 per bowl. You get approximately 30 grams of protein per bowl, tons of fiber, and a big dose of folic acid and magnesium. The perfect blood sugar-stabilizing meal to keep you from late night snacking. You can omit the olive oil and cook the veggies in a little bit of the broth to make it fat free if desired. If you are on a budget or too busy to cook dinner every night, this is the perfect week night meal, and it tastes better every passing day.

Let me know what you think of it!

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

Makes about 6 big servings

2 cups dry red lentils, rinsed

4 cups of water

1 tbs olive oil

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 small jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 big carrot, diced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp paprika

8 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable broth

2 tbs tomato paste

1 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels

3 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish

sliced avocado for garnish

1 lime cut into wedges

sriracha for garnish (optional)

Combine the lentils and water in a pot, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce the heat to low and let them cook for 20 minutes. Once done, pour off any excess liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeño, carrots, and bell pepper and cook for 8 minutes or so, stirring often. If at any point the mixture gets too dry and sticks to the pan, add a splash of broth. Stir in the spices and cook an additional minute, then the garlic and stir for an additional minute.

Next, add the 3 cups of broth, cooked lentils, and tomato paste into the vegetable mixture and let it cook until the carrots are tender, stirring often for a few more minutes. Then add the cup of corn and stir it in until heated through. At this point I stuck an immersion blender into the pot and gave it a few pulses to thicken things up. If you don’t have an immersion blender, scoop out one cup of the mixture and put it in the blender for 5 sec, then add it back to the stew. This step can also be skipped altogether to save time and clean up.

Finally stir in the chopped cilantro and taste to adjust seasoning.

You could add all the lime juice into the pot of stew, but I think it was nicer to squeeze it over the top and get some layers of flavors to your bowl.

Serve each bowl with some sliced avocado, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, and sriracha, if you can take the extra heat!

Enjoy!

 

 

Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus and a Mediterranean Avocado Wrap

raw hummus

Day 2 of my raw food cleanse and I slept like a baby. In fact, I slept in till noon (which felt fantastic, thank you!) so I skipped breakfast and went straight for lunch. First up I knew I had promised a fresh made hummus recipe yesterday, and then I thought a nice sandwich would be just the thing to go with it. How do you get a sandwich on a high raw diet? I found these amazing raw wraps at Whole Foods, made from flax, apple, and zucchini, they taste like sweet whole wheat tortillas. However if you can’t find something like this, big swiss chard leaves make the perfect wrap too.

The key to raw hummus is switching the chickpeas out for summer squash. This is great for those who don’t easily digest legumes and it also drastically reduces the calorie content. The best part is you really wouldn’t know it isn’t a chickpea-based hummus unless you were told. I love how it has a looser texture too due to the moisture in the squash, making it easier to use as a dip– no broken off chips!

The Mediterranean Avocado Wrap below looks…’too healthy to taste good’…I am aware. But, it really was a superb combo of flavors! The flatbread I used had a lot of sweetness to it, so if you are going with the chard leaves, I recommend adding a diced up date to balance the acidic and savory flavors.

Here is my detox meal plan for day 2:

Breakfast: skipped, but had some lemon water first thing

Lunch: A Mediterranean Avocado Wrap with extra sprouts

Snack: 2 cups red grapes

Dinner: A Sunny Curry Crunch Bliss Bowl without the quinoa, and add some pumpkin seeds

After dinner: 2 scoops of sun warrior protein with almond milk, (it’s like chocolate milk) 🙂

For a workout, I’ll just do some upper body weights because my legs are killing me from yesterday’s run. I like to do interval sprints when I run so it’s not just a long monotonous slog, and it leads to very sore muscles!

Ok, back to the food, here is the hummus recipe and sandwich/wrap recipe:

Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus

makes about 1.5 cups

2 summer squash (either yellow crookneck squash or zucchini)

4 cloves of garlic

6 tbs tahini

1/4 cup lemon juice

a big pinch each of coriander, cayenne, and cumin

salt to taste

a dash of Paprika, cold pressed olive oil, and 1 sprig of parsley for garnish

Peel the squash and chop into chunks, removing the stem. Combine everything in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Taste and see if you want to add more spices, I like a lot of cayenne and coriander, but just that initial sprinkle of cumin is enough for me.

Sprinkle the top with paprika, drizzle with the oil, and add some fresh chopped parsley on top.

Now for the wrap!

unwrapped

Mediterranean Avocado Wrap

Serves 1

1 WrawP flatbread or several chard leaves, rinsed

4 tbs Deliciously Raw Summer Squash Hummus (as above)

1/2 avocado

1 handful of lettuce greens

3 slices of portobello mushroom, marinated for at least an hour or overnight in a small amount of balsamic and olive oil

5 green olives, pitted and slivered

5 cherry tomatoes, slivered

a small handful of sprouts, I used alfalfa

Sriracha for drizzling, if desired

Lay your flatbread or chard leaves out. If using chard, remove the tough ribs and lay the leaves slightly overlapping until you have roughly the area of a burrito tortilla.

Starting about an inch in from one side, spread the hummus over 3/4  of the surface.

Lay the rest of the ingredients out in little vertical rows, very close together. Then drizzle with sriracha.

Gently start rolling the bread/leaves in from one side to the other, tucking the ends in as you go like you would a burrito. The hummus acts like glue, so you might want to dap some on at the end to hold it together.

Gently cut it in half with a super sharp knife if desired.

mediterranean avocado wrap

 

 

hummus

Raw Lasagna

rawsagna

A couple times a year I get the urge to do some sort of bodily reset. Whether I’ve been slacking off on workouts or eating too much processed food, a good cleanse helps to get your habits and your palate back on track. Instead of doing something extreme like a 5 day juice cleanse, (which leaves you starving, cranky, and likely to stuff your face when it’s over) I like to do a week or two on a high raw diet. I eliminate everything packaged, cooked, processed, or loaded with sugar, grains, or fat. Instead, I eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and yes, some cold pressed juice too. I do have 1 or 2 liquid meals a day, to give my digestive system a break and I try to drink a ton of water as well (about 75 ounces.) But unlike a juice cleanse, this allows me to ‘detox’, while still having energy to work and exercise. It’s a great boost to the immune system with all those raw vitamins and enzymes. It also helps you really appreciate whole, fresh food again, especially if you’ve been eating a lot of junk!

So for example, here is what I had today:

Breakfast: A tall glass of lemon water, a big green juice with some watermelon slices and grapes on the side.

Lunch: This fantastic ‘Rawsagna’.

Snack: Some cut up vegetables and raw hummus (recipe coming soon!)

Dinner: A big protein shake.

Dessert: A whole fruit popsicle for dessert.

This was all in all about 1200 calories, so I don’t feel deprived or starving, and I know my body is thanking me! I had plenty of energy for a 3 mile run and some chores.

Even if you don’t want to do a ‘high raw’ cleanse for a week, it’s a really good idea to make at least one meal a day from raw foods. This is quite easy to do with a smoothie for breakfast or a big salad for lunch, and I find it especially easy to do in the summertime when turning on the oven sounds like the worst idea ever.

All this week I will be posting raw recipes in case you want to join me in this detox andventure. It seems like it would get really old after a while, but you’d be surprised just how much you can do with wholesome raw food! This Rawsagna has been on my list to make for a couple years now, and it is even better tasting than I thought it would be. I got two thumbs up from the non-raw/non-vegans who tried it too!

It’s easy and surprisingly quick to put together!

Raw Lasagna

Makes 2 large servings.

1 big zucchini, peeled

1 portobello mushroom cap, thinly sliced

2 tbs cold pressed olive oil

1 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 big beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced

1 bunch basil

for the sauce:

2 ounces of sun dried tomatoes, soaked in water for about 1 hour

1 big beefsteak tomato, diced (or about 6 plum tomatoes)

1 sprig each of thyme, oregano, and parsley

1/2 medjool date

1 green onion, white parts removed, greens roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic

salt and pepper

for the cashew ricotta:

1.5 cups cashews, soaked in water for about 1 hour

1 tb nutritional yeast

4-5 cloves of garlic

2 medjool dates

1 pinch of nutmeg

juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper

Start by cutting about an inch off of each end of the zucchini, (one end being the tough stem) this way you will get nice rectangular slices. Using a mandolin or a very sharp knife, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise. Try to slice as thinly as possible, you want to get at least nine slices out of one big zucchini. Lay the slices on a paper towel to drain as you go, they release a lot of moisture.

Marinate the sliced mushroom with the oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Set the bowl out in a sunny spot so that the mushrooms can ‘super charge’. (They will absorb a large amount of vitamin D this way, just like us. Cool huh?)

Next put all the ingredients for the tomato sauce into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

Then do the same for the cashew ricotta mixture: blend until smooth and set aside.

Now comes time for the assembly: Start by laying three zucchini slices on a plate, overlapping just slightly. Take a couple spoonfuls of tomato sauce and spread it over the slices. Add a few slices of tomato and then some basil leaves. Then layer on some sliced mushroom and finish with some big dollops of cashew ricotta, smoothed out over the mushrooms. Add another layer of 3 zucchini slices, in the opposite direction as the first layer. Then repeat the same steps: tomato sauce, tomato slices, basil leaves, mushroom slices, cashew ricotta, and one last layer of zucchini slices. Top those with a little more tomato sauce and ricotta cheese and voila! Lunch is ready.

If you have any of the ricotta and tomato sauce left over, you can combine them to make a delicious pink cream sauce to use for something else. For example, you can spiralize another zucchini and have a delicious angel hair pasta with tomato cream sauce.

This Rawsagna is so filling, I couldn’t even finish a whole piece! I hope you’ll give it a try 🙂

Can’t fathom the idea of a raw lasagna? Try this traditional roasted vegetable lasagna recipe instead.

raw lasagna with mushrooms

raw lasagna