Last year, on a whim, I entered a vegetarian chili cook-off at my alma mater. It was a festive evening, a great learning experience with my chili won a prize! However, I can’t share the recipe with you, because I didn’t use one. But, read on and check out the guidelines I always use and customize each time -as you should as well. Continue reading →
Turmeric tofu scramble is a quick and savory option for any day. But, with its gorgeous sunshine yellow, this dish is also festive enough for guests. With about 8 grams of plant protein, it provides stable, yet light nourishment to start your day. Serve it with the suggested sides and toppings below, or bundle it up in a whole grain wrap and take it to go.
Not only quick and nutritious, this dish is also what I refer to as ‘a turmeric delivery mechanism’. That’s right, per serving, the scramble gives you a quarter teaspoon of turmeric, the anti-inflammatory ‘spice for life’. Further, it uses all three ways to get the most from curcumin by using the whole turmeric spice and includes both fat and black pepper to maximize bioavailability.
My First Vegan Chili Cook-Off. Here’s What I Learned.
On a whim, I recently entered the vegan chili cook-off at the Natural Gourmet Institute. Never having entered a cooking contest before, I had a ‘nothing to lose’ mindset. Besides, Chef Barb was running the gig. So, even if I didn’t have an award-winning chili, the event was bound to have decent entertainment value.
Did I Use a Tried and True Chili Recipe?
Not exactly. While many people have a favorite chili recipe, I’ve always used the (clean out the fridge and) kitchen sink approach. But, I always start with the same foundation, then adapt with what I have on hand. Continue reading →
The stringy flesh of spaghetti squash resembles traditional pasta in appearance. But, does it taste like spaghetti? Does it have that unique ‘toothiness’ of an al dente pasta? Of course not. But, with about one-fourth the calories and carbohydrates of traditional wheat pasta, it can be a very satisfying, grain-free alternative —and a novel, creative way to enjoy a carotenoid and antioxidant-rich meal. And, like regular ‘noodles’ the spaghetti squash pulp is like a naked canvas for flavorings. Almost anything goes. Check out these 4 tips for making delicious spaghetti squash dishes and 5 ideas to get you started!
Just like preparing traditional pasta, the process can be as free-form and improvisational as you want. No recipes needed. In fact, think ‘Operation Fridge Clear Out’. Cooking spaghetti squash is as easy as making regular spaghetti noodles. But, you just need to allow for longer cooking time, about 40 minutes at 375° F, either whole or cut in two. (For step-by-step instructions, see above link.)
4 TIPS TO DELICIOUS SPAGHETTI SQUASH DISHES
Preparation: drain off excess water. For the best and most pasta-like results, place the strands in a strainer and press out as much excess water as you can. This step is optional. But, it’s worth the effort, especially if you are cooking the squash ahead of time and/or are not using a fat-based sauce, such as a marinara.
Dressing: go fat! Due to the high water content of spaghetti squash, I prefer fat-based sauces. Healthy fats in moderation will help modulate the blood sugar response and increase satiety as will adding in some protein. Or, indulge with a little browned butter. Try these!
Seasoning: go bold! Like regular pasta noodles, spaghetti squash provides is a neutral vehicle for any variety of flavors. But, unlike regular pasta noodles, the spaghetti squash pulp won’t absorb the sauce and its flavors very well. And, these noodles don’t have much flavor of their own other than a slightly sweet earthiness. So, go a bit more bold with your seasoning than you might with regular pasta.
Try these seasonings!
Basil, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme
Black pepper, Cinnamon, chili flakes, nutmeg
Garlic, onions, scallions
Soy sauce or shoyu
Tomatoes (sun-dried or paste)
Add contrasting textures. Fold different textures into the strands and on top of the dish. These variations in texture gives makes the dish chewy similar to al dente pasta. Try these additions and toppings!
Toasted, chopped nuts, such as hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts
Bread crumbs or panko (regular or gluten-free).
Beans, such as adzuki, black, garbanzo or kidney
Cheese, such as mozzarella, parmesan or Gruyère
Cacio y Pepe-Inspired Spaghetti Squash
Base: Olive oil and garlic
Seasonings: A generous amount of fresh ground black pepper and sea salt
Additions: sautéed onions and shiitake mushrooms, roasted and shopped walnuts
Garnish: Italian parsley and basil
Spaghetti Squash with Cinnamon-Nutmeg Vegan Cream Sauce and Nuts
Base: Cashew cream sauce
Seasonings: Cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and sea salt
Additions: sautéed onions and shiitake mushrooms, toasted and chopped walnuts.
Garnish: Italian parsley
Indian-Inspired Spaghetti Squash
Base: Store-bought Indian simmer sauce (Maya Kaimal brand)
Additions: Garbanzo beans
Garnish: Cilantro or Thai Basil
Southern Italy-Inspired Spaghetti Squash
Base: Olive oil, garlic and tomato paste
Seasonings: Red chili pepper flakes, black pepper and sea salt
Additions: sautéed onions, chopped or pureed sun-dried tomatoes
Garnish: Italian parsley or Basil
Spaghetti Squash Tossed with Avocado Pesto and Kale
Base: Vegan avocado pesto
Seasonings: Lemon, garlic, black pepper and sea salt
Additions: Wilted kale
Garnish: Basil and roasted, chopped pecans
USDA National Nutrient Database
Page, Karen. The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2014.
How do you like to prepare spaghetti squash? Share a tip! Leave a comment below.
I know, I know… Overnight oats are hardly a culinary innovation. But, they’re the ultimate no hassle, no-cook, nutritious whole foods breakfast. Besides, who doesn’t love waking up with breakfast already made? —even if the breakfast fairy was you. And, simply layer your overnight oats ingredients into a parfait and you’ve got a colorful feast worth waking up for. But, for the ‘parfait look’ assemble the parfait after you’ve soaked the oats. Otherwise, just wake, stir and eat.
With endless ingredient options, think of it as breakfast arts and crafts. Keep just a few staples on hand you can have breakfast prepped in about five minutes. Include the little ones and have them make their own. Or, better yet, make one of them your personal overnight oats chef.
Fudgsicles were one of my favorite summer cool treats. There was something about the way they slowly morphed from a frozen solid into creamy, chocolate pudding. Unfortunately, three of the top six ingredients in those fudgsicles are sugar, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup. Keep reading the label and you will find other goodies, such as cellulose gum and polysorbate 80. No thank you.
The good news is that it is incredibly easy to make fudgsicles that are actually healthy. These fudgiscles also have the rich, creamy texture, which makes a fudgsicle a fudgsicle. No dairy. No gluten. No cooking. No kidding! Continue reading →
When a festive cocktail is in order, I think spicy and make jalapeño infused tequila. Select jalapeños which are small or medium in size. The younger peppers will have much more heat than the larger, older ones, which may show signs of shrivelling. Consider starting with only 2 or 3 peppers the first time if you do not want a strong infusion.
Granola is one of the more simplistic baking endeavors. Yet, there are several granola recipes which have reached national notoriety. Ironically, the creators of these recipes are on the opposite ends of the country.
The first granola recipe from Eleven Madison restaurant in New York City, my adopted hometown. Yes, at the end of the 15 course, $295 per head prix-fixe dinner, you are presented with a mason jar of the house granola. It is an unexpected and lovely touch. You ration the hell out of that granola because it is probably the best you’ve ever had. And, you know you won’t be getting more anytime soon. Or ever. Continue reading →
A bit of silken tofu gives this creamy horseradish dressing such a luscious texture you won’t believe it’s vegan. Freshly grated horseradish delivers not only another source of cruciferous goodness but also gives this dressing a very distinct flair. If you really want to make it zesty, add more horseradish. For best results, either use a
You can find fresh horseradish in the produce section of most grocery stores. For best results, either use a microplane, or finely chop the horseradish after grating, if you’re not using a blender. To prevent drying out, wrap unused horseradish in a damp towel. It will keep for at least a month refrigerated.
CREAMY HORSERADISH DRESSING
Adapted from Natural Gourmet Institute
Yield: approximately 1 cup
1 tablespoon peeled, freshly grated horseradish
1/2 pound silken tofu (squeeze out extra water)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chickpea miso
1/4 cup soy milk or other dairy alternatives
1-2 garlic cloves, mashed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Tabasco or hot sauce
salt and black pepper to taste
In a blender, combine all ingredients except the Tabasco, salt and black pepper. Process until the dressing is creamy and smooth. Add salt, black pepper and Tabasco to taste and blend again until incorporated.
New Yorkers love their brunch, or ‘Boozy Brunch’ as they are often promoted. This is no doubt fueled by their tendency towards late nights, the ‘my phone is my kitchen’ mindset and a restaurant-dense landscape. So, after living here almost nine years, I was surprised to find that I was in the dark about THE best brunch deal in the city -hands down! Case closed. Where is this brunch nirvana? Read on to find out. Continue reading →