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

 

 

Creamy Carrot Soup

creamy_carrot_soup
Upon telling my husband that I was going to make carrot soup, he said, “Oh, I just love carrot soup!” I thought that was a rather odd thing to love so enthusiastically but anytime I can get that guy to eat vegetables, I’m not going to question it. After having made this though, I can see what he was getting at!

My mom and I got carrot soup at a restaurant the other day that tasted like baby food– yuck. It was gloppy and flavorless. I had to make a good carrot soup to remind myself that carrot soup is indeed delicious! You can spice it up in lots of different ways too. But it’s also nice as just a simple soup with some crusty bread on the side. We made it a meal with a big batch of bruschetta. Enjoy!

Creamy Carrot Soup

Makes 6 servings

1 tbs olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

1.5 lbs fresh raw carrots, chopped into 1/2″ chunks

1″ piece fresh raw ginger, minced (or 1/4 tsp dried)

1″ piece fresh raw turmeric, minced (or 1/4 tsp dried)

7 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

a dash of paprika

a dash of curry powder

a dash of cayenne

1 tbs vegan butter (butter is optional, I put a lot more in husband’s and he loved it, but it’s still delicious without)

fresh minced chives for garnish

 

Heat the oil in a dutch oven or large sauce pan. Add the carrots and onion and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the ginger and turmeric and cook another minute. Then add the garlic and cook another minute.

Add the stock and remaining spices and stir. Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots are very tender.

Going in batches if necessary, add the soup to a blender with the butter and blend until very smooth. You can add a little more broth if it’s too thick.

My blender keeps the soup hot as it blends but if you need to, add it back to the pan to reheat. Taste to adjust seasoning

Serve with chives sprinkled on top and maybe another dash of salt and pepper!

creamy carrot soup

 

 

Toasted Walnut Banana Bread

banana bread

So, you know how it goes: grocery shopping on a Sunday, all the best intentions in the world… meal planning… fresh fruits and vegetables….dreams of juicing. Then a week and a half goes by and you’ve had takeout three times and, well, some sorely neglected produce is languishing in your fridge and on your counter.  There isn’t much you can do about wilted lettuce and bendy carrots but bananas… bananas have been waiting for this moment all week. In fact,  sometimes I buy bananas knowing full well that what I really want in my heart is BAKED GOODS. Thus is the journey of this lovely fruit from the best of raw fruit intentions to the inevitable destination of cozy, indulgent afternoon cakes.

This banana bread is very moist, I suggest serving each slice individually toasted with a dab of butter and an accompanying maple latte as shown. Remember, the next time you are in the produce aisle, there ain’t nothing wrong with smoothie dreams and banana bread mornings!

Toasted Walnut Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf

1/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I used cashew)

1/2 tsp vinegar

1/2 cup vegan butter (I used a brand called ‘Melt’, it’s coconut oil based)

1 cup brown sugar

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract, I just like the paste for the real flecks of vanilla)

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once heated, spread walnuts out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and vinegar, stir and set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.

Combine the mashed banana, sugar mixture, and milk mixture.

In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except walnuts and stir to combine. Don’t over-stir, just make sure the dry ingredients get wet.

Add the dry to the wet and stir to combine, then fold in the walnuts.

Line a 9″ loaf pan with either parchment paper or spray with an oil coating and a dusting of flour.

Pour batter into pan and bake for about 35-45 minutes. Test to see if a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Let cool 5 minutes in the pan before turning it out. If using parchment as I did, you can lift it out, with that pretty and crusty top.

Don’t forget to toast each slice with some butter and enjoy with a cup off coffee or tea. I mixed 2 shots of espresso-sweetened with maple syrup- with half a cup of steamed cashew milk….heaven.

 

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!

 

 

Tofu Satay with Chili Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad

satay

Satay is my all time favorite Thai dish. (Although it was originally an Indonesian food, many cultures have their own version of it.) It is listed at number 14 on World’s 50 most delicious foods readers’ poll compiled by CNN in 2011I have made it my mission to try every satay at as many Thai restaurants in Los Angeles as possible. Believe it or not there are like 10 vegan options in this city! I’ve even tried a large number of the actual chicken satays from before I became a vegetarian. After doing this very important research, I’ve concluded that there are 3 main factors that define a good satay- a balanced peanut sauce, (not too sweet, not too sour) a creamy satay marinade, and juicy ‘meat’ with crispy edges. You can’t really mess up the cucumber salad.

Traditionally satay is grilled, but I was out of propane so I baked these in the oven. Still delicious! These tasty skewers are about 120 calories each, with 15 grams of protein.

Tofu Satay with Chili Peanut Sauce and Cucumber Salad

makes about 5 skewers

5 wooden skewers, soaked in water for 20 minutes

1 block of tofu (I used Trader Joe’s High Protein Organic Super Firm Tofu)

1 recipe for Sweet and Spicy Curry Sauce

cucumber salad:

1/2 cucumber, diced

1/4 red onion, diced

2 tbs apple cider vinegar

1.5 tsp raw agave nectar

peanut sauce:

2 tbs peanut butter (I actually used raw almond butter and it still tastes great.)

1 tbs Chili Garlic Sauce, you can find it in the grocery store next to the Sriracha

juice from 1/2 a lime

2 to 3 tsp agave nectar

1 tbs water

slice the tofu into 1″ square chunks, about 1/4 ” thick. dip them one by one into the curry sauce and stack them on the skewers. Set them aside to marinate while you make the rest.

For the cucumber sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine, set aside in the fridge.

Peanut sauce is NEVER perfect when you first combine the ingredients, at least not for me! Combine all the ingredients and stir well until smooth, then taste it. You might have to adjust the balance by adding a tiny bit more peanut butter, or adding a tiny bit more water if it’s not saucy enough. Just taste often and make sure the adjustments are incremental.

Preheat the oven t0 400 degrees, or fire up your grill.

For the oven: Thoroughly grease a pan with some oil. I found it was best to use the coconut oil or olive oil spray, and spray the pan generously. Then lay the satay skewers on the pan and lightly spray them as well.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for about 5 more minutes, until edges are golden brown.

For the grill: (recommended) Make sure your grill is well-greased and cook the skewers until the edges get charred and crispy. If you have some leftover curry sauce, you can baste the skewers with a little more sauce about halfway through. Handle them very carefully as the tofu can easily crumble.

Serve with the peanut dipping sauce and cucumber salad on the side.

Mung Bean Falafels with Cucumber Tahini Sauce

IMG_4735Have you ever had mung beans? They don’t SOUND like they would be good, but they are now my new favorite bean! They are so yummy— almost sweet like peas, but still very firm and savory. They have insanely high protein and iron content compared to other legumes. This recipe is based on the Ayurvedic Falafels from One Green Planet, but they are a little more punched up with herbs and spices! They say that Ayurveda considers mung the king of beans! Now I know why. Four falafels have 240 calories, about 12 grams of protein, 17% of your daily required iron, 4 grams of fat, and 6.5 grams of fiber, and 39 grams of carbs. They are gluten free and full of anti-inflammatory ingredients like garlic and turmeric. 

You would never guess how healthy these falafels are because they are so tasty. I tried a round of deep frying them, which was delicious, but then I tried baking them and they really were just as good (if not better, less greasy) so that’s the way I would recommend. Whenever I have tried falafels at restaurants, they are like rock hard balls of dry salt, so I wanted to create falafels with a crispy exterior and a multi-dimensional flavor. I had never used potato flour, but I think it really helps with their lighter texture. However, you can use regular flour if you can’t find potato flour. 

Mung Bean Falafels with Cucumber Tahini Sauce

Makes 15 falafels

2 shallots

8 cloves garlic

1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp turmeric

A couple sprinkles of nutmeg

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp black pepper

Juice of half a lemon

3/4 cups dried mung beans

3 tb potato flour

1 tsp baking powder

1tb olive oil

Sauce

3 tbs tahini  

3 tbs coconut yogurt 

Juice of half a lemon

1/2 persian cucumber (or a quarter of a regular cucumber) peeled and minced

A dash of paprika

To cook mung beans, just bring them to a boil with 1 part mung beans, 2 parts water, then cover and lower heat to simmer for 30 minutes. They should be ‘al dente’, not mushy.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor, combine all falafel ingredients except the mung beans and blend into a chunky puree. You don’t want it to be perfectly smooth but you don’t want big hunks of garlic either.

Then add the mung beans and pulse until they are just broken down. Don’t puree.

Add the potato flour and baking soda and mix in with a spoon or your hands.

Form the dough into little patties, about 2 big tablespoons per patty. They should basically be a ball, but a little flattened. 

Line a baking pan with a layer of parchment paper and brush both sides of the falafels with the olive oil.

Bake the falafels for about 20 minutes, then flip them and bake another 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, you want them to be golden brown on both sides. Cooking time may vary.

To make the sauce, just combine all ingredients.

Serve your falafels on pita, lavash bread, or on a bed of lettuce. Wrapped up as a sandwich with lettuce, diced tomato, diced onions, olives, hummus, garlic fluff, and some Sriracha! They freeze well too, so you can whip up a big batch and have a falafel feast anytime, just heat in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes or so. 

falafel

Mini Chimichangas with Ataulfo Mango Salsa

chimichangas

Hola! it’s Cinco de Mayo! I’m sorry this picture is terrible haha, it just is. But these Chimis were so good!!! (Do I say that too much? I think I might be saying that too much about my own food.) I started out trying to make chorizo chimichangas, and then I realized, soyrizo is pretty gross, and organic corn and black beans are ten times better. That’s not to say I didn’t think this recipe through! The ‘queso’ is the best part, and I’ve been working on it for a while. I live with several dudes, who are very proudly carnivorous. So, sometimes I cook just for the heck of it, not thinking anyone will eat what I make, because ‘Bacon!’ And sometimes, like with these, my roommates DEVOUR every little morsel, knowing full well that they are vegan, and admittedly, loving every bite.  That’s when I know I have a good recipe. The sweetness of the corn really made these sing. And, there is something sweet, mild, and comforting in the cashew sauce.

 

Mini Chimichangas with Ataulfo Mango Salsa

serves 4

1 tsp peanut oil

1/2 onion, diced

1 jalapeno

2 tbs bell pepper, minced

3 cloves garlic

mounded 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup soaked cashews

1 tbs nutritional yeast (optional)

1/4 cup water

8 flour tortillas (about 6″ diameter)

1 can black beans

1 cup organic corn

enough peanut oil to fill a small pan 1/4″ high

 

Salsa:

2 Ataulfo mangos, diced

1/4 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, minced

2 tbs bell pepper, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp coriander

1 sprig cilantro, chopped

 

First, heat the 1 tsp peanut oil in a small pan. Fry the onions, jalapeno, and bell pepper for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

In a food processor, combine the onions mixture, the garlic, salt, cashews, and water and blend until very smooth. About 5 minutes. Set aside.

Heat oil in a small pan over medium. Fill your little tortillas with 1 tbs black beans, 1 tbs corn, and 1 tbs onion ‘queso’ mix.

Wrap tortilla into a little burrito, then gently lay in the hot oil, folded side down first.

After about 20-30 seconds, flip, and fry another 20 sec. You want them to be golden brown. Have a paper towel lined plate ready for them.

For the salsa, combine all ingredients. Th salsa will last 1-3 days in the fridge.

Serve everything immediately. Although you can make these chimis the day before and heat them up in a low temp oven.

Are you having a Cinco de Mayo fiesta? Here are some other Mexican favorites to round out your buffet:

Black Bean and Butternut Squash Cantina Tacos

Perfect Guacamole

Cilantro Jalapeno Chipotle Hummus

 

chimi

Easy Like Sunday Morning Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

lemon loaf 1

This is literally the most delicious and moist lemon cake I have ever tasted, ever, EVER! EVERRRR!

It was so completely easy to put together, and it has already been demolished by my roommates. When my friend and I were in high school we were obsessed with the lemon loaf from Starbucks, we shared a slice just about everyday for a while there. I don’t think that one is vegan in the slightest, but this one is actually better! This loaf made the perfect lazy Sunday snack. If you want, you can add some yellow food coloring the batter, I didn’t think it was necessary.

I don’t have anything else to say, just make this loaf. 

Easy Like Sunday Morning Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

makes 1 loaf

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

2 tbs poppy seeds

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 cup sugar (I used an organic cane sugar)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 cup cashew milk (I find this is the best for baking)

1/2 cup canola oil or other light cooking oil, coconut oil would probably taste great too

zest from 3 lemons

juice from 3 lemons

1 tbs vanilla extract

icing:

zest and juice from 1/2 lemon

1/5 cups powdered sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a big bowl.

combine all wet ingredients in another bowl.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until JUST combined.

Grease loaf pan with coconut oil and pour in batter. Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate pan in oven.

Bake for another 25-35 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

While the loaf is baking, combine the icing ingredients and combine well, (you might need a bit more lemon juice, depending on how juicy your lemons are.)

Wait till cake is cool before drizzling with icing. lemon loaf

Eggplants Around the World: Bagara Baingan

 IMG_4127

The second installment of the ‘Eggplants Around the World’ Series comes from Hyderabad, India. I think it’s really fascinating that this recipe dates back to the Mughal Empire, so people have been eating some variation of Bagara Baingan in this region for 500 years! (And it is also popular in Pakistan.)

Some of the challenges and benefits of trying new cuisines from different cultures is trying to find the obscure ingredients. I had to go on a hunt for tamarind paste and lucky me, my local shopping mall has a Seafood City in it. Yes, a fish market in the mall between the Macy’s and the Target, it’s so bizarre. Nestled amongst purple pickled duck eggs, snapper fish balls, and mystery fruits, I was able to find these tiny Indian eggplants and the tamarind. A woman with a thick accent stopped me when I was bagging the eggplants and asked skeptically if I knew how to cook them. I told her I was going to slice them and fry them, to which she seemed to approve, and then she walked away without ceremony. I usually only last about 10 minutes in there before the fish smell drives me out, so I have to know exactly what I want and try to guess which aisle it will be in before I cross the threshold. 

Bagara Baingan is essentially an eggplant curry. You might not have an asian fish market at your shopping mall so even if you can’t find these little Indian eggplants, you can just use whichever kind they carry at your grocery, and cut them into 2” wedges. After researching many different versions of this recipe, this is the one I have settled on. Other versions called for caraway, fenugreek, bay leaves, poppy seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, but every single version was a little bit different. The ingredients below were the ones in common across the board; the only difference being the use of whole seeds, which I didn’t have, and texturally, seemed too risky. 😛 

 

Bagara Baingan

makes 4 servings

1/4 tamarind

1.5 cup water

8 indian eggplants (or 1 regular sized eggplant)

1 tbs salt dissolved in a big bowl of water, enough to cover the eggplants

2 tbs oil

1/4 cup raw peanuts (if you can only find roasted, that’s ok, just skip toasting them with the sesame and coconut)

1 tbs raw sesame seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup water

1 onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp cumin

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2″ ginger, minced

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp cayenne, or to your heat preference

salt to taste

Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Put the tamarind in a bowl with 1 cup of water to let it soak. 

Cut a giant ‘+’ into the bottom of each eggplant, all the way to the stem but don’t cut the stem off or through it. Heat the oil in a big frying pan over medium high heat, add the eggplants and cover with a lid. Fry them until they are tender and glossy, turning them often to cook them evenly, about 10 minutes. You want them to be about 90% done. Set aside, keeping the leftover oil in the pan.

In a dry frying pan, add the peanuts, sesame seeds, and coconut. VERY lightly toast them, (but don’t burn them!) When they have just begun to show a little color, remove from the heat and put them in a food processor. Grind to form a thick paste, adding 1 tablespoon of water at a time as necessary to form the paste. Set aside.

In the frying pan used for cooking the eggplants, add the onion and spices and cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and browned, adding another tablespoon of oil if necessary. 

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for one more minute. Pour in the tamarind soaking water, but not the tamarind pulp itself. Discard the pulp. Also add the coconut paste. Stir everything to combine and add back the eggplants.

Reduce the heat the low and put a lid on the pan. Allow it to come to a simmer and cook 5-10 more minutes, depending on how done the eggplants are. Test them for softness with a fork, they should give no resistance when poked. Add salt to taste if necessary.

Bagara Baingan is traditionally served with byrani rice or some naan bread. And, maybe a sweet accompaniment like chutney.

no thanks mom

no thanks mom