Halloween Blood Red Vegan Salad - Beets, Oranges, Walnuts!

Halloween Blood Red Vegan Salad - Beets, Oranges, Walnuts!
Halloween Blood Red Vegan Salad - Beets, Oranges, Walnuts!

This salad is great for a Halloween Party. It's a very healthy addition to any Halloween lineup. The star ingredient is beets, which are a great antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifier. Beets have also been shown to decrease tumor growth in some studies. Between the beets, oranges and walnuts, you know you are getting folate, manganese, fiber, vitamin C, Omega 3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium, iron, etc. The list goes on and on. It's truly scary how healthy this salad is.

6 Cups Roasted Beets, diced (about 12 small beets or 4 giant ones)
3 Cups Oranges, each slice cut into thirds
2 Cups Walnut Halves
Seeds from 1 pomegranate, optional
Sliced red onions, optional (directions below)

(This dressing will need to be adjusted according to the quality and flavor of your salad ingredients)
1/2 Cup Pear Infused Balsamic Vinegar (or any balsamic vinegar should work)
3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
1 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp pepper

1. Optional Onions: If you are adding the onions, spread sliced onions in a shallow dish and almost cover with balsamic (or any) vinegar and liberally apply salt over them. If you are using a vinegar that is very sour and not sweet, you may want to add a little maple syrup. Allow to marinade on their own until you are ready to eat the salad.
I like this part, but my husband prefers the salad without so we keep our onions on the side and I add them to my portion only.

2. Roast beets whole in the oven for about 50 minutes at 400 F (205 C). Check them a few times around the end because smaller beets will cook a little faster than larger beets. You could also steam the beets, but roasting will give a richer flavor.

3. Now is a good time to chop your oranges and seed your pomegranate, if using.

4. Whisk together dressing ingredients. The proportions may need to change based on the freshness, quality and flavor of your salad ingredients. I made this salad two days in a row and had VERY different tasting ingredients. If your ingredients are very flavorful, you will probably need less dressing.

5. Once the beets are done and have cooled a bit, remove their skin and dice them.

6. Mix all of the salad ingredients together, except onions.

7. Add dressing little by little and mix. You may need more or less than the recommended amount of dressing. I can not stress this enough. The flavor of the dressing will get stronger the more time you allow everything to marinade together. This salad tastes even better the next day.

8. Add onions just before serving or allow individuals to add onions to their own servings if not everyone is a fan of onions. Keeping them aside as long as possible allows them to develop the maximum amount of flavor.


Quinoa with Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

Vegan Quinoa with Fresh Vegetables and Herbs
Quinoa with Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

Tonight we had a very fast, simple and healthy dinner. It was one of those 'we need to clear out the fridge and we need to eat right away' type of dinners. Since quinoa cooks in only 15 minutes and goes well with all vegetables and herbs (what was filling my fridge), I knew this would be the perfect combination to meet our needs. If you are not familiar with this ancient superfood of the Incas, it is a versatile seed that is usually treated as a grain and can often replace rice or other more familiar grains in dishes. It's quick cooking time and excellent nutrition have made it very popular as of late.

A lot of vegetarians, especially new vegetarians, like quinoa because it is a complete protein and is packed with minerals and nutrients. It is a good source of protein, iron, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. It's also a source of vitamin E and calcium. Quinoa has a low Glycemic Index (GI) ranking. Of course, it's also cholesterol free as all plant foods are, and is low in fat, with no saturated fat or trans fat. I found some of this information by looking at the Self Nutrition Data for Quinoa. You can see the amino acid profile and amounts of each nutrient there.

This is not really a recipe, but describing it in a paragraph didn't feel right so I wrote out the steps I followed to give you an idea of a starting place. Again, this was just a very simple meal so you could really get creative here. I also listed the ingredients I used for a reference point.

Vegetable bouillon or other vegan bouillon
Chicken curry masala (it's vegan)
Turmeric (1/4 tsp)
Assorted vegetables (we had green bell pepper, chilies, carrots, radish greens, lima beans, green peas, potatoes)
Assorted herbs (we had fresh basil, parsley, dill and cilantro)

1. Dissolve vegan bouillon and spices in hot water.
2. Add half as much quinoa as water, chopped vegetables and herbs (you can save the herbs until the end when it's all cooked if you're not feeling too lazy and hands-off).
3. Boil quinoa, then simmer for about 15 minutes.
4. Toast cashews and garnish finished dish with them.


5 Minute Meal - Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous

Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous
Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous

Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous is one of those "accidentally vegan" products. It seems to be available in just about all of the grocery stores around here. I bought it because it says "cooks in 5 minutes" and that's about all the time I had. Not only does it cook in 5 minutes, but it is very easy to make.

To make it, you only need to combine the couscous and spice packet with boiling water and olive oil (not actually required), wait for 5 minutes, and it's ready to eat. The directions tell you to combine it in a saucepan on the stove, but this time I just boiled the water in my teakettle and poured it over everything because I needed a hot cup of tea anyway and I thought I'd save energy this way. It turns out delicious both ways. You can also cook this couscous in the microwave, which makes it great for cooking in a hotel room (if you have a bowl) or in a dorm room.

One of my favorite things about this product is that it doesn't have a lot of unnecessary packaging and it doesn't have any plastic bags! Lately I have become really aware of packaging and I've been trying to reduce my environmental impact. I do realize that going vegan is the biggest thing you can do to lessen your environmental impact, but there is still a lot I can do. Knowing that there is so much plastic in the ocean makes me sick and I find myself picturing those bird skeletons with undigested plastic pieces in their stomachs when I look at unrecyclable plastic.

My husband will eat couscous, but it's definitely not his favorite thing (which is really surprising to me because he could live on wheat alone). He said this was "really good" which means a lot coming from someone who likes his grains to be jazzed up with vegetables and Indian spices (unless they come in the form of bread.)

I do realize that couscous only takes 5 minutes to cook and you could add your own seasonings, but I thought I'd give this one a try and I am glad I did. You can't chop onion and garlic and roast the garlic in 5 minutes anyway. The Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous has the convenience most people want nowadays without a giant list of unrecognizable ingredients and a ton of unnecessary plastic bags.

This product makes a great side dish, snack, small meal, stuffing for a squash or vegetable. It's also good with some added ingredients like vegetables, legumes or nuts.  It is totally something I would pack for travel, especially travel to those not-so-vegan-friendly places in Middle America. You could even use the coffee maker to get boiling water if you are staying at a hotel room that didn't have a microwave.


Campfire Dinner - Vegetarian Foil Packets

Vegan Campfire Dinner
Vegan Campfire Dinner

This is one of my most favorite dinners ever! It's always a big hit. Campfire dinner is a combination of potatoes, veggies, and veggie sausage cooked in a foil packet. The name came from the old days when there was not yet a barbecue grill at our cabin and we cooked over an open fire in the fire pit. My grandpa started by cooking potatoes wrapped in foil, but then later it evolved into putting everything right in there together to make a whole meal. I think my mom is the one who came up with the idea of putting everything together in the packet, but I'm not sure. At any rate, my mom who gets credit for the version I am sharing here (except for my additions to make it more spicy, of course).

Campfire dinner is a great way to use up what you have left in the fridge, in your CSA (community supported agriculture) box or from a farmer's market haul. When we first got a CSA share from our local farmer and I didn't know what some of the vegetables were or what to do with them, I found this to be an excellent way of combining them all together.

One of the great things about this meal is that you can easily customize it for each person since each person gets their own individual packet. I like a lot of greens, so I usually put extra swiss chard, spinach, kale, or whatever greens I have available in my campfire dinner. In my husbands, I put chilies, jalapenos, poblanos, etc to make his more spicy. If we are totally out of peppers, I use ground cayenne or crushed red pepper on his. If you are really on a budget, this can be a great recipe because you can use whatever vegetables are on sale or cheap at the time.


Cooking Spray (or oil)
Potatoes, sliced
Onions, sliced
Diced Vegetables of your choice (bell peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, zucchini, root vegetables, greens, cabbage, herbs . . .)
hot peppers, optional
Vegetarian Sausages, Sliced or Chopped (my favorite for this are Field Roast or Tofurky Italian), optional but recommended
Earth Balance Buttery Spread (or oil or cooking spray)

Curry Masala for chicken (it's vegetarian - available at an indian store) or garam masala, curry powder or your favorite seasoning, optional
Cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper, optional

1. Get two sheets of foil paper, about 2 feet long each and place one over the other in the shape of a plus (+) sign. (This is for each dinner so if you are making 4, you'll need 4 of these.)

Making Campfire Dinner
Lay out your foil.

2. Spray the foil with cooking spray (or drizzle with a little oil) so that the food doesn't burn.

3. Put a layer of sliced potatoes and sliced onions. Season. Put a little cooking spray (if using).

4. Add on your veggies, a couple pieces of the sausage. Season. Spray with cooking spray.

Making Vegan Campfire Dinner
Layer potatoes, onions, vegetables, and sausage slices

5. Add more potatoes and onions. Season. Spray. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as needed.

6. The top layer should be the veggie sausages, some of the hot peppers, more seasoning and some Earth Balance buttery spread or a drizzle of oil. The sausage infuses a lot of flavor into the dinner. If you decide to skip it, you might want to add more seasoning.

Making Vegan Campfire Dinner
Add more seasoning, cooking spray, vegetables, and seasoning.

7. Seal up your foil packet. See pictures below.

Grab the long sides of the inner foil.

Sealing Campfire Dinner
Pinch together.

Sealing Campfire Dinner
Fold a small flap, then keep folding all the way down.

Sealing Campfire Dinner
Now take the open sides and fold them up like you are wrapping a gift.

Sealing Campfire Dinner
This is how it will look after you fold up both of the remaining sides.

Sealing Campfire Dinner
Now repeat for the outer layer of foil.

Sealing Campfire Dinner
Use a marker to label the finished packets if they are different.

8. Cook on the barbecue or on the embers or hot coals of a campfire for approximately 45 minutes. OR cook in a 400 F oven (205 C) for about 45 minutes - 1 hour. When you start to smell them, they are probably done. If the potatoes are tender, it's done. Be careful opening! Steam might burn your hands.


Amy's Top 10 Trader Joe's Vegan Foods For People On The Go

Vegan MoFo may be over, but we'll continue the tradition of the occasional Freaky Friday guest post. This week we get to hear from my friend Amy. Amy and I may have similar taste in food, but we live very different lifestyles. Amy is barely ever home and doesn't get a chance to do much cooking. I thought she could give a totally different perspective than me and, who knew she was such a genius at writing!? I feel like eating everything on this list RIGHT NOW! Without further ado, here's Amy's guest post.

Gracie the Beagle
Amy (okay, okay, it's Amy's travel companion, Gracie)
Like many of you, I'm on the go a lot. I usually have a small cooler in my trunk with goodies to munch on throughout the day. Trader Joe's is one of my favorite places to go to find tasty and affordable treats. Here's my top 10 nutritious and delicious finds at Trader Joe's.......:)

1. Trader Joe's Country Pumpkin Spice Granola Cereal
This is one of the seasonal items that the store puts out every fall. It's a great way to wake your taste buds up on those crisp autumn mornings. I like to enjoy this with a cup of cold, unsweetened almond milk. It also makes an energizing and filling snack to nibble on throughout the day.

Trader Joe's Country Pumpkin Spice Granola
Trader Joe's Country Pumpkin Spice Granola

2. Trader Joe's Quinoa & Steel Cut Oatmeal
There's nothing like starting your day with a bowl of warm, wholesome oatmeal. Quinoa adds its own unique nutrients, texture and flavor to this breakfast favorite. The brown sugar and maple syrup adds just a touch of sweetness for the perfect morning pick me up.

Trader Joe's Quinoa & Steel Cut Oatmeal
Trader Joe's Quinoa & Steel Cut Oatmeal

3. Trader Joe's Cultured Coconut Milk
I like to call these yummy little cups of heaven. Each spoonful is creamy, melt in your mouth delicious. I'm partial to the blueberry, but it also comes in vanilla. The healthy probiotics and great taste will make both your tummy and your taste buds smile :).

Trader Joe's Cultured Coconut Milk Vegan Coconut Milk Yogurt
Trader Joe's Cultured Coconut Milk

4. Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger
These burgers are easy to make on the grill or in the oven. My favorite thing about them is that they can be eaten many different ways. You can go the traditional route and try it on a bun with your favorite condiments. You can also cut them up and eat them with a side of brown or basmati rice. My favorite way is to cut them up and put them in a pita pocket with diced tomatoes and lettuce. This item takes a classic lunch time fav and kicks it up a notch.

Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger
Trader Joe's Vegetable Masala Burger

5. Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Fries
I don't know anyone who doesn't love fries. You can think of these as the sweet sister from another mister, of the regular fries we all know and love. They are delectable and loaded with vitamin A. Instead of heading to your local drive-thru, you could just pick up a bag of these and put them in the oven. Crispy on the outside, warm and soft on the inside. Enjoy them with your favorite condiment or all on their own.

Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Fries
Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Frites

6. Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Chips
Warning: These are extremely addictive. If you're a coconut fiend like me, then these crunchy little treats are sure to satisfy! They can be sprinkled over a salad, dessert, or eaten right out of the bag. Just be sure not to get too close to my bag....(just kidding :)).

Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Chips
Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Chips

7. Trader Joe's Kale Chips
I love singing the praises of Kale! Trader Joe's really hit the mark with this scrumptious snack. It's chock full of nutrients and TASTE! The combination of spices is nothing short of pure za za zoo.....:)

Trader Joe's Kale Chips
Trader Joe's Kale Chips

8. Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Kao Soi
This is the kind of dish that I love coming home to on a cold Michigan evening. The noodles and veggies have just the right balance of sweet and spicy flavors. Crispy noodles are included for that extra bit of crunchy goodness. It can be eaten by itself, with some brown or basmati rice or with your favorite kind of bread on the side. It will leave you feeling warm, satisfied and ready for a night filled with sweet dreams....:)

Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Kao Soi
Trader Joe's Thai Vegetable Kao Soi

9. Trader Joe's Indian Fare Punjab Choley
This is a tasty and inexpensive item to have on hand in your pantry. It can be warmed in the microwave and eaten as is or with your favorite rice and/or bread. It'll make a hearty and flavorful addition to any lunch or dinner menu.

Trader Joe's Indian Fare Punjab Choley
Trader Joe's Indian Fare Punjab Choley

10. Trader Joe's Superfood Pilaf
This is a great item for the lunchbox or for part of a family meal at home. Quinoa, sweet potatoes, and kale that can be microwaved and ready in a few minutes.....SCORE :)! I think this has just the right amount of spices as is, but it can be doctored up with additional spices and veggies to fit almost any palate.

Trader Joe's Superfood Pilaf
Trader Joe's Superfood Pilaf - Front

Trader Joe's Superfood Pilaf
Trader Joe's Superfood Pilaf - Ingredients


Crazy Sexy Bean Chili

Tonight we enjoyed this Chili from Crazy Sexy Kitchen. In my many years of eating chili, I've never had chili with kale in it! Leave it to Kris Carr to incorporate this super green into chili! We enjoyed the addition of the kale. Not only was it tasty and satisfying, but it also made us feel really healthy! Beans, veggies, spices, greens . . . it's a bowl full of good health.

I'm giving away a copy of Crazy Sexy Kitchen here. Saturday, October 5. 2013 is the last day to enter so act fast!

Crazy Sexy Bean Chili
Crazy Sexy Bean Chili


Good Bye Vegan MoFo 2013

Tuesday, October 01, 2013 , 7 Comments

Vegan MoFo 2013

Vegan MoFo 2013 is over. I am both saddened and a little relieved. It was a lot of work trying to post at least 20 times and follow as many other MoFoers as possible. I didn't know if I could do it because I have some major commitment issues (I still don't know how I got married), but I did it and I feel such a sense of accomplishment! This was a MoFo of many firsts for me.

- year I knew what the heck Vegan MoFo (Month of Food) was!
- year I had a blog during MoFo
- product review
- guest post (thank you Shriya!)
- grocery shopping 101 post
- giveaway I hosted - (you can still enter here until Sat, Oct. 5, 2013)

I loved all of the firsts this Vegan MoFo brought me. What I loved more was feeling like I was a part of something bigger, the comaraderie, discovering new blogs, gaining inspiration from other's blogs, and the many giveaways of MoFo! Speaking of giveaways, I found a great site with deals and giveaways listed all in one place - Vegan Perks! If you're on a budget or you're looking for giveaways or great deals on vegan stuff, check out that site! I am really looking forward to next year's MoFo and I might even choose a theme for the month. If you have any ideas of things you'd like to see, please let me know.