Breakfast of Champions

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For staunch supporters of tasty, healthy breakfasts, nothing really does it quite like oatmeal – especially as colder weather approaches: it’s nourishing and delicious, and staves off the winter chill like a piece of toast never could. So, in that spirit we present you with our go-to oatmeal recipe, which is versatile, simple to make (your oats can cook away on the stove while you get ready for work), and fun to customize. Here’s all you need to make your early morning feel like less of a drag, and more of a treat.

Morning grains (makes one serving)

What you’ll need 

– 1 c. Almond milk
-1/4 c. Old fashioned oats
– 1 T. Buckwheat groats
– 1 T. Toasted oat bran
-1 t. Chia seeds, flax seeds, and hemp hearts.
-1 t. Cinnamon
– ½ t. Ground ginger
– Dash vanilla or almond extract
– Pinch of nutmeg
– Pinch of salt

Trick out your oats! 

Mix-Ins: sliced apple or pear, bananas, frozen berries, dates, walnuts or almonds, raisins, grated coconut

Toppings: brown sugar or maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, almond milk, fresh fruit or fruit conserve.

The oats pictured above are a riff on banana bread: morning grains recipe w/ bananas and dates cooked in, topped with more bananas and toasted walnuts. Deceptively healthy indulgence! 

Preparation

In a small saucepan, bring almond milk, spices and vanilla or almond extract to a low boil over medium-high heat.

Stir in oats, bran, groats, seeds, and any desired mix-ins (e.g., apples, bananas, dried fruits, nuts, etc.), and bring down to low heat. Simmer for 15 minutes – stirring occasionally – until grains have softened and the cereal has reached your desired consistency.

Remove from heat, and finish off with additional toppings as desired. Eat up, and feel your life-force returning!

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Late Harvest Pear & Walnut Crumble


Looking for an easy dessert to stave off the winter chill? Fruit crumble is a no-brainer! Our version incorporates some beautiful last-of-the-season pears (our’s were Bosc, fresh from the tree), nutty spelt flour, walnuts, and – of course – a healthy dose of cinnamon. While traditionally considered a dessert, we find we enjoy this crumble best when served for breakfast (We rationalize it by calling it a “reverse-oatmeal”).

But really, it’s November – time for nesting and hovering ’round our old pal the oven. Get to it, friends!

(ps – We couldn’t resist including our latest thrifting find in this post)

What You’ll Need
– 1 c. spelt flour
– 1 1/2 c. old fashioned oats
– 1/3 c. brown sugar
– 2 1/2 t. cinnamon
– pinch nutmeg
– pinch cloves
– 1/4 t. salt
– 3/4 c. vegan margarine
– 1 c. walnuts, chopped
– 1 Lb. pears, sliced (about 6 cups)
– 2 t. lemon juice
– 2 T. corn starch

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, 2 t. cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and walnuts, and stir until well combined. With your hands, work in the chilled margarine, until a dough begins to form (it should be quite clumpy). Add in the walnuts, and refrigerate until ready to bake off the crumble. This can be made up to a day ahead.

In another bowl, combine the sliced pears together with the 2 t. lemon juice, 2 T. corn starch, and the remaining 1/2 t. cinnamon, and toss pears are coated. Transfer to a greased, 9×11 baking dish. Sprinkle crumble topping evenly over top.

Bake for one hour, until the topping is crisp and golden brown, and the juices are bubbling. Serve warm, and finish with vanilla almond milk or a helping of your favorite non-dairy ice cream (we like Coconut Bliss), and a handful of almonds.

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Miso Pot Pie

That old familiar nip of winter has us scurrying to serve up some warm comfort food, and nothing that we know of hits the spot quite as well as these almost-traditional pot pies. If you have never tried making a miso gravy, your world is about the change; the richness of this magical paste makes a dreamy, flavor-packed sauce that will please any palate. We test-drove these li’l guys over a meal with a group of meat-eaters and they absolutely loved them!

Yields 2 9″ pies.

What You’ll Need

– dough for 2 9″ pie crusts, or 2 prepared crusts
– 2 9″ pie plates

Pie Filling
– 2 large red potatoes, diced small
– 6 stalks celery, chopped
– 3 carrots, chopped
– 8 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 1/2 c. corn, fresh or frozen
– 1 1/2 c. peas, fresh or frozen
– 1 c. mushrooms, sliced
– 2 T. cooking oil
– 1 t. turmeric
– 1/4 t. dried thyme
– 1/8 t. nutmeg
– 1/8 t. ground allspice
– Salt and pepper
– Splash of cooking wine for deglazing (optional)

Miso Gravy
– 2 T. cooking oil
– 1 very large or 2 medium onions, diced
– 2 T. flour of any type
– 2 c. vegetable broth (or water with bouillon cubes)
– 2 T. red miso paste
– 1 T. dark soy sauce
– Pinch white pepper
– 2 t. cornstarch + about 2 T. water for mixing

Preparation

Prepare your pie dough, if necessary, and chill in fridge (covered in plastic wrap) until needed. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 T. oil over medium heat. Add your diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent blackening, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring every now and then, about 40 mins, until soft, brown and well-caramelized. (NOTE: If you are short on time, or patience, you can bypass the caramelizing and just saute your onions about 15 mins. on medium heat).

While the onions are caramelizing, partially cook your diced potatoes using your preferred method (we like to steam them) until they are about halfway to tender. And while ALL of this is going on, heat 2 T. oil in a second (large) saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until aromatic, 1-2 mins. Add in carrots and celery and saute, stirring occasionally, 15 mins. or so, until the carrots begin to soften. The remainder of your pie filling (potatoes, mushrooms, peas, corn and spices) may be added now, and should be cooked until all ingredients are well-heated and soft. If your saucepan has collected bits of vegetable along the bottom during cooking, throw in a splash of wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze – these bits are pure flavor!

If your onions are still cooking, the pie filling mixture may be taken off the heat and set aside until needed. When your onions are caramelized (or at least sauteed) to your liking, throw in 2 T. of flour and stir to mix into the onions, continuing to cook a further 1-2 mins. Pour in your vegetable broth, bring the heat up to medium once again, and add your miso paste, soy sauce, and pepper. As the mixture heats, stir or whisk to combine the miso paste into the gravy. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 10 mins., or until the gravy begins to thicken. If the gravy is still too thin, mix 2 t. cornstarch in 2 T. of water and add the mixture to the gravy, giving it a stir to combine.

Prepare two 9″ pie dishes with bottom crusts, scoop half of the pie filling into each plate, and ladle half of the gravy over each pie. Top each pie with a covering top crust and seal around the edges. Score the pies on top with a sharp knife to let off steam. Slide into your preheated oven and let cook until pie crust is golden brown, 30-40 mins.

Let the pies cool at least a half-hour (preferably more), slice and serve. A little taste of comfort, anyone?

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Plum & Honey Tangerine Preserve


These last few weeks of fall have found us kicking into serious Hibernation Mode, pickling and preserving our way towards winter. We happened upon some incredibly ripe red plums over the weekend, and decided to try our hand at making some plum preserve (and threw in some honey tangerine for kicks). The end result was, in our humble opinion, nothing short of radical.

This is a gentle introduction to jam-making for first-time preservers, and the recipe is small enough that you won’t find yourself overwhelmed with jam. And what you do make will be a great companion for your morning toast, or – if you’re feeling really adventurous – an out-of-this-world PB&J.

Let the preserving begin!

Yields 750 mL (enough for three cute 250 mL mason jars)

What You’ll Need

Plums worth saving!

– 2 Lbs. very ripe red plums
– 1 medium honey tangerine orange
– 3/4 c. water
– 1/4 c. sugar
– 3 sterilized mason jars (250 mL) with lids

Preparation
Start by preparing the honey tangerine: Using a vegetable peeler, remove the rind from the honey tangerine – trying to avoid getting too much pith (bitter white layer) with the peel. Thinly slice the tangerine peel, until you have about 1/4 cup of sliced peel, loosely packed. Next, halve and juice the peeled tangerine until you have about 1/4 cup of juice. Set the juice and peel aside.

Inexplicably adorable tangerine rind ready for action

Coarsely chop the plums and add them to a large saucepan, together with the tangerine rind and juice, 3/4 c. water, and 1/4 c. sugar. Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a short boil and reduce the heat. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened and reduced (about 1 hour). Remove from heat and let cool completely before putting the preserve into the mason jars.

The preserve will keep for about 4 weeks, refrigerated.

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Rainy Day Green Curry

In our neck of the woods, fall typically means one thing: rain, and lots of it. Hence the Rainy Day Green Curry: a surefire way to combat those wet, drizzly weekends with a healthy dose of tofu, veggies, and an extra helping of heat. This curry will leave you feeling warm and satisfied in even the most torrential of downpours.

Serves four.

Our Curry Pantry Basics: fresh basil, coconut milk, vegan-friendly green curry paste, limes, an adorable red cherry pepper, and raw brown sugar

What You’ll Need
– 2 T. cooking oil (we dig coconut oil)
– 2 T. green curry paste
– 1 400 mL. can coconut milk
– 1 c. water or almond milk
– 1/2 block deep fried tofu, diced
– 1 small zucchini, sliced
– 1 japanese eggplant, peeled and sliced
– 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
– 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
– 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
– 1 lime, juice
– 2 T. soy sauce
– 1 t. brown sugar
– 1/4 cup of basil, loosely packed and sliced in chiffonade
– 1 tiny red cherry pepper, thinly sliced (optional)

Preparation

In a large wok, heat 2 T. cooking oil over medium heat. Add the 2 T. of curry paste and fry until fragrant (about two minutes), stirring frequently. Next, add the eggplant, carrot and broccoli and saute for two minutes.

Pour the can of coconut milk and 1 c. of water or almond milk into the wok, and bring everything to a low simmer. After about five minutes, add in the zucchini, red cherry pepper (optional), and the bell pepper. Cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Add in the fried tofu and simmer for another minute or so, until heated through.

Stir in the lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and basil leaves. Remove from heat, and serve with a bowl of steamed rice on the side.

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Smokey Caesar Salad Bowl

An overflowing bowl of caesary goodness!

This is a dish that has become one of our go-to’s for busy weekdays when we don’t have quite as much time at our disposal to spend in the kitchen, but still want something tasty and impressive-looking. If you’re finding yourself with similar time constraints, this salad will fit the bill: it’s a big bowl of deliciousness that’s quick, versatile, and healthy to boot (it makes supremely satisfying post-workout fare).

We encourage you to play around with the toppings until you find a combination that really wows you.

Serves one healthy appetite.

What You’ll Need
For the Salad
– 1 bunch spinach
– 1/4 block smoked tofu, sliced into triangles
– handful cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (or three ultra-cute mini-potatoes)
– handful alfalfa sprouts
– 1 T. pumpkin seeds
– 1 T. sunflower seeds

For the Smokey Caesar Dressing
– 1/4 c. veganaise
– 2 T. lemon juice
– 1/2 t. grainy mustard
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1 T. nutritional yeast
– 1/4 t. smoked paprika
– 1/4 t. salt
– 1/4 t. ground black pepper

Preparation
Start off by getting your sweet potato roasted. Preheat the oven to 450 F. In a bowl, coat the diced sweet potato in olive oil, and toss with salt, ground black pepper, and a sprinkling of cinnamon if you’re feeling wacky. Place in an aluminum baking pan and bake for about 40 minutes, turning halfway through, until crispy and golden-brown. Set aside.

To prepare your dressing, combine all of the above ingredients in a small jar and (with the lid closed tightly, of course) shake until everything is smooth and incorporated.

Finally, grab yourself a bowl deep enough to contain all of that goodness: layer it with spinach, cherry tomatoes, the smoked tofu slices, and a handful of your roasted sweet potatoes. Top with a nest of alfalfa sprouts and a sprinkling of pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Add a liberal drizzle of your salad dressing, and dig in!

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Pasta Alfredo: Vegan Style


Say arrivederci to all that parmesan, and saluti to pasta alfredo: vegan style. Rich, garlicky, and chock full of fresh veggies, smoked tofu and a whole lotta attitude…this is a meal to be reckoned with.

What You’ll Need
– 5 nests dry angel hair pasta, cooked al dente (about 4 cups cooked)
– 1/4 c. vegan margarine
– 1/2 c. almond milk (we like True Almond brand)
– 1/4 c. cashews + about 1 T. almond milk for processing
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
– 1/2 pound green beans, ends trimmed
– 1/2 block smoked tofu, cubed and sauteed
– Nutritional yeast to top (optional)

Preparation
Start by getting your veggies pasta-ready: blanch the beans and carrots together in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes – the idea here is to allow them to cook slightly, while still retaining their flavor and crispness (no flaccid veggies allowed!). Drain and run under cold water to prevent overcooking.

Using a food processor, puree the cashews with the 1 T. of almond milk until smooth and well-incorporated. You can add a bit more almond milk, if you like, until you’ve reached your desired consistency (it should resemble something of a nut butter). Set aside the cashew puree.

This next step puts your multi-tasking to the test: get your pasta going in a pot of boiling water, and cook until al dente – usually about 10 minutes or so, although we tend to abide by the less-scientific taste test technique. While your pasta is cooking you can prepare the sauce. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and throw in your margarine. Once the margarine is melted, add in the minced garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Stir in the remaining 1/2 c. of almond milk and the cashew puree, reduce heat and cook over a low simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Drain your cooked pasta and add it to the saucepan along with your veggies and tofu, giving everything a good stir. Top with nutritional yeast, if desired.

Serve very hot, and take comfort in the knowledge that you’ve just whipped up a fettucine alfredo that doesn’t miss the cheese one bit! Buon appetito!

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Fire-Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Sauce

If you’ve ever tried a fire-roasted tomato sauce you know that there’s nothing to compare, whether used as a pasta sauce, on pizza, or as a dip for raw veggies or canapes. This is our take on a super-fresh, handmade sauce, using vegetables and seasonings plucked straight from the garden (or at least your favorite market), and given the royal treatment over a searing-hot barbeque. If you like a bit of heat in your sauce, try doubling the amount of chilies, or roasting a hot pepper on the grill along with the vegetables. This recipe will satisfy any hungry palate, vegan or not – guaranteed!

What You’ll Need

– 4 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into large chunks
– 2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
– 1/2 large red onion, cut into large chunks
– 1 small head garlic
– 1/4 c. olive oil
– 1/2 c. packed fresh basil leaves
– 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
– 1/2 t. sea salt
– 1/2 t. crushed chilies (or red pepper flakes)
– 1/4 t. smoked paprika (optional)

Preparation
Preheat your grill to high heat. Throw tomatoes, peppers and onion together in a large bowl and toss with olive oil to coat. Trim the top off of the head of garlic so that the tips of each clove are exposed. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil, drizzling with a tablespoon or two of olive oil before sealing the top.

Carefully place your bell pepper halves, onion chunks and tomatoes (skin-side down) over your hot grill along with the garlic in foil. Cook all of the vegetables over high heat, watching them carefully, until they are cooked through and well-charred.

The onions should be ready in 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the heat of your grill, and the tomatoes, peppers, and garlic may take as long as 10 minutes. The onions and peppers can be turned halfway through cooking, but the tomatoes may be left as they are until done; when they are ready to come off the grill they will be very soft and ready to fall apart, so be careful as you transfer them onto a plate or bowl!

If you are able, remove and discard the blackened skins from your tomato chunks – the sauce will still be fine with them as well, so don’t stress too much! In a food processor, combine your vegetables (including the juices they have collected since coming off the grill) and all remaining ingredients and pulse until you have a thick, well-combined tomato sauce. Feel free to experiment with the seasonings until the sauce is to your perfect liking.

Serve piping hot over pasta, or use as a dip for bread or veggies. You will never go back to store-bought tomato sauce after a taste of this!

Fire-roasted tomato & red pepper sauce loaded with veggie ground “beef,” served over brown rice pasta.
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Summer Green Bean Salad

Get your picnic baskets ready! This salad salutes great, late summer produce; showcasing the flavors of just-picked green beans, fresh basil, and beautifully sweet Roma tomatoes. Great as a side, and twice as nice on its own, this li’l number ensures that you see those last weeks of summer out in style.

Serves two.

What You’ll Need
– 1 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
– 3-4 ripe tomatoes of your choice, sliced into 1/4″ half-moons
– 3 T. basil, chiffonade
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 1/4 cup olive oil
– 1 t. cracked black pepper
– 1/2 t. salt

Preparation
Start by blanching your green beans in boiling water for about 2 minutes, until tender-crisp. Place the beans into a bowl of ice water to prevent them from overcooking. Once cool, drain and toss into a salad-appropriate bowl, along with the tomatoes and basil. Then crack some salt and pepper over those suckers!

Now it’s time to make the oh-so-simple dressing: combine the lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper and salt into a jar, and give it a good shake. Add to the beans and let the salad stand for about 30 minutes at room temperature, to bring out the fantastic fresh flavors of your late-summer produce!

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Vegan Basil-Walnut Pesto

One of the most indispensable herbs in our garden, it’s tough to find a bad use for basil, and with the leaves at their peak in our part of the world, now is the perfect time to whip up a batch or two (or ten) of your very own homemade pesto. This year we were lucky to have a whole garden’s worth of this heavenly herb at our disposal, but if you’re short on garden space you can find wonderful fresh basil at your local market or grocery store.

This recipe calls for soy cheese in place of traditional Parmesan, but great results can be had by replacing the soy with nutritional yeast (use a bit less, as per the instructions below). Pesto is typically made with pine nuts, but toasted walnuts make an excellent and much more wallet-friendly replacement. If pesto is your thing, this recipe is king!

What You’ll Need
– 3 cloves garlic, peeled
– 1/2 c. toasted walnuts (or a combination walnuts & toasted sunflower seeds)
– 3 c. loosely-packed fresh basil leaves
– 1/2 c. grated Parmesan soy cheese (or 1/3 c. nutritional yeast)
– 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil (or more, to your taste)
– 1/2 t. kosher salt
– 1/2 t. black peppercorns

Preparation
In a food processor, pulse garlic cloves with walnuts until ingredients are mixed and coarsely chopped. Add basil leaves and soy cheese (or nutritional yeast) and pulse again several times, until basil is well integrated into the mixture. Begin adding oil, 1/4 c. at a time, and pulse after each addition until the mixture is smooth and of your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper and blend in the processor a final time. Serve over pasta, toast rounds, crackers, pita chips, or use as a pizza sauce or dip for fresh veggies. Keep covered and refrigerated.

Our basil paradise!

If you’re feeling a little nuts, try adding in some other fresh herbs to add some complexity to your pesto. Here we added a small handful of spearmint leaves to the finished product and blended – yum! Other fine additions might be oregano, sage, or tarragon, but this is really only the beginning of the possibilities.

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