Creamy Apple (or Pear) Spice Green Smoothie

Every Thursday, Ferry House picks up a half-bushel of local apples and pears from the always-friendly folks at Wilklow Orchards from Vassar’s on-campus farmers market. Our 21 house members easily devour this generous box-full of autumnal fruit within five to six days, employing the crisp, jewel-toned apples and juicy, champagne-fleshed pears as on-the-go snacks or, in my case, in my ubiquitous morning green smoothies.

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While frozen berries had played an integral role in my smoothies since the summer, lately I’ve found myself gravitating toward smoothies that incorporate the grounding fruits of the cooling weather, both because they produce a less chilled smoothie than do frozen berries (a quite positive aspect considering that I prefer not to shiver when eating my breakfast), and because they serve as optimal bases for warming spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Employing Ferry’s apples and pears in my smoothie rotation also greatly reduces the personal money I spend each week on specialty foods such as flax oil and kombucha, since frozen berries tend to cost a pretty penny.

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The recipe below yields a gorgeously creamy, attractively hued smoothie with a flavor nicely balanced between sweet and spicy, mostly thanks to the bite of fresh ginger. Served in a glass or as a Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl, this smoothie will assuredly prompt your tastebuds to sing the praises of the fall season. Ooh, a smoothie-themed musical? Hello, Broadway…

Creamy Apple (or Pear) Spice Green Smoothie—Can be Raw, Soy Free, and Nut Free; Oil Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat

Makes one 16-oz smoothie.

Ingredients:

1 large banana, frozen and sliced
1 medium-small apple or ripe pear, diced
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 scoop of vegan protein powder (optional; I love Ultimate Meal and Garden of Life)
1 large handful of kale
1 cup non-dairy milk (Edensoy for Ali, forever and always)

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed above. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. To make this smoothie into my infamous Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl, serve the smoothie in a bowl topped with 1/2 cup granola and a tablespoon of nut butter.

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Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Until next time, Ali.

Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl

Confession: I harbor a deep-seated adoration of green smoothies. Granted, I may or may not have inadvertently revealed this infatuation in my recent guest post on Green Thickies, or in my detailed instruction guide on How to Make the Perfect Green Smoothie, or in the 37 various green smoothies highlighted on my What I Ate Wednesday Smoothie Compilation. Regardless of how ostentatiously I promote my love affair with green smoothies, or of how many consecutive mornings I’ve reveled in green smoothie goodness for breakfast (please don’t force me to count), the fact remains that nothing provides me more morningtime contentment than diving spoon-first into a brightly hued, creamy, refreshing green smoothie.

One of my favorite smoothies: my creamy Blueberry-Basil Smoothie. Perfect for turning into a Green Smoothie-Granola Bowl!

One of my favorite smoothies: my creamy Blueberry-Basil Smoothie. Perfect for turning into a Green Smoothie-Granola Bowl!

Providing the ideal vehicle for incorporating more wildly nutrient-dense leafy greens into one’s diet, green smoothies can also fulfill one’s daily fruit quota, as well as offer ample amounts of protein depending upon if one chooses to add vegan protein powder, various nut butters, chia and/or hemp seeds, etc. However, while one can easily cram tons of nutrients and energy into one blended concoction, I find that doing so masks the pure and simple flavors of the fruit integral to smoothies—an especial tragedy if the aforementioned fruit consists of summer’s bounty of peaches, berries, plums, and the like. In order to provide for easy identification and full enjoyment of each fruit incorporated in my daily smoothies, I only add six uncomplicated ingredients into the blender each morning: a banana, 1/2 cup each of two different “feature” fruits, a scoop of protein powder (completely optional), a generous two handfuls of chopped kale, and 1 cup of the best soymilk known to humankind. This basic smoothie template ensures a delightfully thick, creamy smoothie bursting with the pronounced flavor of both feature fruits.

I topped this mauve-hued smoothie of banana, blackberry, and cantaloupe with a delicious maple-spice granola and almond butter.

I topped this mauve-hued smoothie of banana, blackberry, cantaloupe, and kale with a delicious maple-spice granola and almond butter.

While scrumptious and nourishing on its own, this unpretentious smoothie tends not to adequately satiate my hunger or provide enough calories to support my quite active lifestyle. To add nutrient and caloric density, as well as a satisfyingly toothsome contrast to the smoothie’s creaminess, I always top my smoothies with a heaping half-cupful of homemade granola and a spoonful of nut butter. These simple (yet oh so tasty) additions transform a healthy morning snack into a nutrient-packed A.M. meal, a humble green smoothie into the ultimate breakfast: the Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl.

As I previously alluded, the proper Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl requires three components:
1.) The green smoothie.
2.) The granola.
3.) The nut butter.

These three components allow for infinite variations depending upon taste preferences, caloric needs, and seasonal fruit availability. Lately, I’ve blended cantaloupe, blackberries, peaches, and plums into my smoothies; I’ve made numerous adaptations of this fabulous recipe for my granola (using maple syrup instead of honey, of course); and I’ve rotated between peanut and almond butter for my morning nut butter spoonful. I’ve also hugely enjoyed adding handfuls of herbs into my smoothies—fresh thyme, basil, and cilantro all nicely brighten any smoothie. Obviously, your Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl will most likely vary immensely from mine—this only showcases the customizable beauty of such a breakfast!

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If you’ve ever experimented with green smoothies for breakfast but found that they didn’t sufficiently quell your hunger, I’d highly recommend offering green smoothies a second chance in the form of a Green Smoothie-Granola Breakfast Bowl. Your tastebuds and tummy will thank you.

Submitted to Healthy Vegan Friday and Wellness Weekend.

Until next time, Ali.

Guest Post on Green Thickies: How to Green Smoothie On-the-Go

Another day, another guest post. Though I only recently had the honor of featuring my banana soft-serve know-how on Becky’s “Not Your Ordinary Recipes” blog, Katherine of Green Thickies has shared my undying—even while traveling—devotion to green smoothies on her lovely site. My guest post for Green Thickies provides tips for enjoying green smoothies while on-the-go, ensuring you optimally healthy breakfasts even while out of the comforts of your own kitchen, as well as a winning, superfood-packed recipe for an Apricot-Goji Smoothie with Maca. Head on over to Green Thickies to check out the post and recipe!

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I’d also like to mention that the lovely Kylie and Laura of TeenVGN have featured my Pomegranate-Infused Brown Rice Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash, Cauliflower, Hazelnuts, and Arugula as their June Recipe of the Month! You can see the recipe on the TeenVGN site here.

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Until next time, Ali.

 

A Night of Academic Discussion and Vegan Deliciousness

A number of readers have expressed interest in hearing more about the general happenings as well as the fantastic food of Ferry House, the egalitarian vegetarian/vegan co-op in which I reside at Vassar along with 20 of the kindest, most insightful individuals I’ve ever met. To fulfill such readers’ wishes, I thought it fitting to recount on the ol’ blog a recent Ferry event: Professor Dinner. Every semester, the members of Ferry invite one or more of their favorite professors to enjoy a convivial vegan potluck dinner in the Ferry living and dining rooms, as well as to engage in stimulating conversations with the academics they most admire. Rife with a cornucopia of plant-based yummies and enough throught-provoking interactions to blow the roof off of Ferry, this semester’s Professor Dinner proved wildly successful and highly enjoyable. Pictured below is the vast array of dishes on the Professor Dinner buffet table, contributed by Ferry members and professors alike.

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Mixed berry smoothies served in an assortment of mix-and-match glassware.

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Gluten-free spicy tempeh empanadas with sweet potatoes, swiss chard, raisins, and pepitas. Made by yours’ truly and inspired by the recipe to which this picture links.

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Shepherd’s Pie with mixed veggies, veggie meat crumbles, and mashed potato topping.

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Fruit salad–a rare and coveted occurrence in Ferry since fruit proves too expensive to fit into our weekly shopping budget. For Professor Dinner, though, we go all out!

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Salad with dark-leaf lettuce, carrots, snap peas, and cherry tomatoes served with a take on my famous Liquid Gold Dressing.

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Whole wheat linguine tossed with peanut sauce and roasted tofu, carrots, and broccoli, with a smaller portion of gluten-free peanut noodles next to it.

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Millet pilaf with almonds and raisins.

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Peanut butter bread.

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GUACAMOLE! Also a highly prized dish in Ferry since avocados cost a pretty penny.

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My plate of Professor Dinner scrumptiousness.

To my immense disappointment, the professor I invited to the potluck—fellow vegan, animal rights advocate, Joyce-lover, and blogger—had to cancel at the last minute, but luckily, my dear friend and fellow VARC member Alan had invited another like-minded professor to dinner—Jill Schneiderman from the Earth Science department. Professor Schneiderman shared a troubling story with Alan and I that detailed a social experiment she performed informally on a group of students she planned to take on a week-long venture to the deserts of the American Southwest. In preparation for the trip, Professor Schneiderman had to collect the eating preferences of the participating students so that the desert facility where they would stay could adequately cater to their needs. As a pondrous vegetarian and scientific researcher, Professor Schneiderman decided to tell her students that the facility provided vegetarian meals by default, and that individuals who wanted to eat meat had to request it specially. She then passed around a sheet on which students could denote whether or not they felt it necessary to eat meat on the trip, and to make the facility provide dining options that included meat. To Professor Schneiderman’s surprise, nearly all of the students checked the “Wants to Eat Meat on Trip” box, and displayed their indignance that the facility would dare not serve meat unless specifically asked. The situation reminded me of Melanie Joy’s book—Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cowswhich discusses how society regards the eating of animals as “normal” and the abstention from eating sentient beings as “deviant.”

While rather disheartening that such a phenomenon would occur on a college campus as progressive and liberal-minded as that of Vassar, the fact that at least a handful of incredibly passionate students and faculty members understand the ethical implications of eating animals and work to spread this awareness throughout campus make me proud to attend Vassar. Additionally, since many of these individuals live in Ferry or often interact with Ferry members, I feel so lucky and honored to reside in a house surrounded by like-minded individuals, which provides me with the strength to interact with those who may not share my viewpoints on veganism and animal rights in a compassionate manner. All hail, Ferry House!

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #64

Breakfast: A green smoothie of 1 cup frozen mango, 3 deglet noor dates, 1 scoop Amazing Grass Green Superfoods powder, 2 tbsp chia seeds, 4 large leaves lacinato kale, and 1 cup homemade almond milk, all topped with a homemade granola of apples, buckwheat groats, cooked brown rice, walnuts, goji berries, blueberries, hemp seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, maple syrup, and coconut oil.

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I crafted this particular granola on the first morning of my stay in my parents’ NYC apartment over Vassar’s spring break, implementing the limited supply of items in their pantry as well as the various superfood ingredients that had traveled with me. Thus, instead of abiding by my usual template for fresh fruit-sweetened granola by pureeing up a mixture of fresh & dried fruit with various spices and coconut oil in which to coat nuts and grains, I shredded an apple and mixed it with about 2 tbsp each of maple syrup and olive oil to provide adequate moisture for the rest of the granola. Quite crunchy, nicely spiced, and bejeweled with bursts of juicy blueberries, this makeshift granola turned out surprisingly well for a creation comprised of odds and ends.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—chia seeds, almond milk, walnuts, hemp seeds. Whole Grain—buckwheat, brown rice. Fruit—mango, dates, apples, goji berries, blueberries. Leafy Green—kale. Superfoods—Amazing Grass powder, chia seeds, hemp seeds, goji berries.

Morning Tea: Mayan Secret Green Tea from local NYC store Spices and Tease.

Though the aroma of this tea (which includes sencha green, mate, rooibos, and darjeeling teas mixed with lemongrass and bits of carrot, pineapple, and papaya) promised a complex fruity flavor, the amalgamation of various teas created a harshness that vastly overpowered any hope of a pleasingly refreshing tang. Perhaps I’ll simply have to play around with the steeping time and amount of tea used for each cup, but my experiences with this tea thus far have proved rather unfortunate.

Lunch: A sandwich of BBQ Tempeh strips, celery-apple-carrot slaw coated in Luscious Lemon Dressing from the Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen, and avocado slices between two experimental cornbread fritters. I served the sandwich alongside a salad of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, sprouted almonds, and dulse flakes, tossed with Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with Green Raw Slaw from Bao’s. For dessert, I enjoyed a raw truffle made with sprouted sunflower seeds, sprouted almonds, dates, and maca powder, inspired by this recipe.

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The impetus for this sandwich began with my discovery of a waffle iron hidden in the back of a cabinet in the NYC apartment currently subletted by my parents. Inspired to craft a savory waffle in part by this recipe of Kristy’s, I contemplated a southern-flavored checkered quickbread to complement the Barbequed Tempeh Sandwich Filling that I had made earlier that day from a new cookbook of mine—the James Beard award winning Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley, who apparently served as the executive chef at NYC vegan staple restaurant Angelica Kitchen for nine years. Unfortunately, the lack of gluten-free flours in my parents’ sparse pantry rendered me scrounging for waffle base options. In a bout of vegan MacGyver-ness, I combined 1/2 cup white cornmeal (already in the pantry), 1/4 cup roasted buckwheat grouts finely ground in the food processor, and 1/4 cup almond pulp leftover from the milk I had made that morning to comprise the full cup of flour required for four waffles. After mixing the flours with nooch, baking powder, baking soda, paprika, cumin, oregano, tomato paste, maple syrup, liquid smoke, almond milk, and coconut oil, I excitedly heated up the waffle iron, oiled it, spooned the batter in to yield a satisfying sizzle, closed the iron, waited for the light to signal the waffle’s completion, opened the iron, and…experienced utter failure. The batter had all but completely stuck to the iron, probably due to both an inadequate oiling of the iron and an overly thick batter lacking in a starch of any sort. Sigh. I managed to salvage the remaning batter by pan-frying it into thick pancakes, but still reeled from crushed waffle-based dreams. Curse you waffle iron! I shall prevail eventually.

Meal Checklist: Protein—tempeh, sprouted almonds, sprouted sunflower seeds, almond meal, tahini. Whole Grain—cornmeal, buckwheat flour. Vegetables/Fruit—celery, apple, carrot, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, dulse flakes, ginger, pears, dates. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens.

Afternoon Beverage: Choice Organic White Peony tea.

A bottle of Carpe Diem’s Kombucha in Quince flavor.

With an off-putting taste of artificial sweetener (certainly not one of the actual ingredients, though) and an inadequate amount of carbonation, this particular brand of kombucha failed to fully satisfy my mid-afternoon beverage needs. Try as I might to find a brand of local kombucha (other than the Madison-based NessAlla, of course) of as high a caliber as GT’s, I’ve not yet honed in on one. The search continues!

Dinner: A Middle Eastern feast, shared with my parents in their temporary NYC apartment, of Cookie & Kate’s Crispy Baked Falafel with Creamy Tahini and Dill Dressing, sandwiched between Cara’s Gluten-Free Pita Bread along with mixed greens and cherry tomatoes, accompanied by a side of cauliflower and carrots roasted with cumin, paprika, and coconut oil.

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My changes to Kate’s original falafel recipe include substituting canned chickpeas for dried (I worried about the digestibility of merely soaked rather than fully cooked beans), adding 1/2 cup sprouted almonds and 1 tbsp GF flour blend to the mixture, and omitting the salt. Though Kate warns against implementing canned beans in the recipe, I found that adding the almonds and flour ensured adequate binding of the falafel, even when using the more moist canned chickpeas. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and not at all dry or mealy like many of the falafel recipes with which I’ve experimented in the past, the falafel verily impressed my parents (and fulfilled my mother’s three-day-long craving for falafel), who helped me to scarf down the entire batch of herby chickpea fritters. My only critique of the recipe pertains to the Creamy Tahini and Dill Dressing; the lemon tasted a bit too harsh, in my opinion. However, that minor flaw certainly did not prevent me from slathering the dressing all over my falafel sandwich.

As for the pita bread, I utilized the gluten-free flour blend from Bob’s Red Mill instead of Cara’s homemade blend, replaced the sugar with maple syrup, substituted 1 tbsp flaxseed meal for the xanthan gum, and decreased the salt to 1/4 tsp. I had rather excited myself about the prospect of perfectly crisp, toasty, homemade pita pockets, and therefore became thoroughly disappointed when the pitas would not puff up or slice open as promised (reasons for this fault include the omission of xanthan gum, not allowing the water bath to adequately heat up in the oven, or over-working the dough). Regardless of cooking complications, the pitas still tasted delicious, acting as sliced of bread between which to sandwich the falafel and fixings, rather than as pockets in which to stuff the ingredients.

Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas, sprouted almonds, tahini, chickpea flour, fava bean flour. Whole Grain—sorghum flour. Vegetables—onion, garlic, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots. Leafy Greens—mixed green, parsley, cilantro, dill.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Comment Provoking Questions: How do you adapt your cooking to kitchens not as well-stocked as to which you’re accustomed? Do you own a waffle iron? Have you had luck with it? What is your favorite brand of kombucha other than GT’s? Have you made pita bread yourself before?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

Austin Extravaganza, Day 2: Juiceland, Nomad Dosa, & Counter Culture

You can find the first post of my Austin Extravaganza series here.

The first full day of my long-anticipated spring break jaunt to Austin, TX began with a green smoothie sprinkled with my new favorite granola, both of which I picked up at the flagship Whole Foods market the night before. After waiting for Ashley—my best friend of eleven years who provided the main reason for my visit to the southern U.S.—to awake from her slumber, I suggested that we kick off our action-packed day with a journey to Barton Springs. A man-made pool incorporated into a channel of Barton Creek, Barton Springs serves as a popular venue for nature enthusiasts who prefer to swim in fresh spring water, as opposed to chemically treated pools, surrounded by chirping birds and lush foliage. The area proved absolutely gorgeous and rife with wildlife, including lizards and a regal blue jay of whom I managed to snap a photo.

During our lengthy stroll to Barton Springs, I began to feel a bit peckish and enthusiastically welcomed the sight of Juiceland, a juice and smoothie bar with four locations around Austin that specializes in cleanses and liquid nutrition. Their extensive menu boasts three categories of juices (milder “fresh & easy” juices; fruity agua frescas; and “next-level” juices packed with veggies, greens, and spices), four categories of smoothies (basic fruit smoothies; sweet green smoothies; protein smoothies—many of which implement whey protein, unfortunately—; decadent dessert smoothies; and “next-level” smoothies, one of which even includes durian fruit, wowza!), superfood “cocktails,” herbal tonics, energizing shots, and a selection of premade to-go salads and raw desserts. The tiny liquiteria also sold a wide array of locally prepared kombucha, fresh young thai coconuts, raw chocolates, and vegan fruit-and-nut bars, including those crafted by Caleb and Chris of the Bearded Brothers—an organic snackfood company specializing in generously sized raw, gluten-free, and vegan energy bars. Ashley and I would later have the pleasure of sampling their tantalizing snack bars at the Wheatsville Co-op, but for the time being, we would simply stare longingly at mouthwatering flavors like Bodacious Blueberry Vanilla, Fabulous Ginger Peach, and Mighty Maca Chocolate. Yum. Wanting to satiate myself until lunch without ruining my appetite, I opted for a light snack of a wheatgrass shot and a couple sips of Ashley’s “Hydrator” smoothie of watermelon juice, peaches, and lemon.

Premade juices, oodles of kombucha, and fresh coconuts for sippin’.

Ahh, the sound of a wheatgrass juicer motor.

A journey back across town to Congress Ave landed Ashley and I smack-dab in the middle of a conglomeration of food trucks, including a health-conscious Indian one, referenced in many of my Google searches of “best food trucks Austin,” known as Nomad Dosa. The young hipsters inside Nomad Dosa’s sleek, silver caravan create all of the truck’s fare without the use of meat, wheat, gluten, soy, additives, gums, refined flours, and sugars (whew!), and implement nourishing food preparations including fermenting their soaked rice-and-lentil batter for several hours, carefully selecting spices to optimize digestion, and utilizing only olive and coconut oils in their cooking. Not only do Nomad Dosa’s gastronomic tenets jive perfectly with my own, they also mingle to produce some of the freshest, most flavorful, and most satisfying Indian cuisine I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting—completely unlike the overly greasy, muddled-tasting dishes I’ve sampled at many an Indian restaurant. Hungry and eager to dosa, Ashley and I put in our orders, paid an incredibly reasonable sum (only $9-$10 for ginormous dosa, a chutney, and a side of either rice or lentil soup), and awaited our food for a mere five minutes before hearing the sweet call of, “Ali and Ashley—your order is ready!” Ashley ordered the “Holy Cow” filling—creamy spiced potatoes, sauteed onions, roasted cashews, and green peas—on a soft dosa topped with shredded carrots served alongside a mild coconut chutney and a lentil dipping soup known as sambar, while I opted for the “Kerala Kokonut” filling—butternut squash, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, and cauliflower in a coconut curry—on a soft dosa topped with romaine lettuce and avocado, served alongside a spicy cilantro chutney and sambar. A spongy, sourdough-tasting dosa wrapped around impeccably spiced, veggie-laden stews and accompanied by a thick, bliss-inducing lentil soup? Be still my beating heart.

Ashley’s “Holy Cow” dosa.

An inside view of my “Kerala Kokonut” dosa.

After our immensely fulfilling lunch, Ashley and I meandered down Congress Ave, popping in just about every storefront along the road, including a nifty antique shop called Uncommon Objects, described by Austinites as “your eccentric uncle’s attic on steroids.” There, I fawned over the vintage mason jars, old-style cameras, and clickety-clacky typewriters while Ashley revealed a peculiar obsession with science-lab-style glass vials. We also passed an open-air adoption event hosted by Austin Pets Alive!, the city’s most prominent and almost completely volunteer-run organization devoted to achiving a 100% no-kill rate of sheltered companion animals in Austin.

Sufficiently tuckered out after our active morning and afternoon, Ashley and I rejuvenated from the balmy Austin weather in her air-conditioned apartment. However, another bout of hunger soon overcame us, and we trekked out once more to enjoy a casual yet scrumptious meal at Austin’s almost-one-year-old vegan restaurant, Counter Culture. Born from humble beginnings in July 2009 as a food truck, Counter Culture launched a wildly successful Kickstarter project in February 2012, the 195 donors of which enabled the business to relocate to a brick-and-mortar, diner-style restaurant bedecked in cheerful aquamarine-and-brown decor. On the Counter Culture menu, owner Sue Davis emphasizes nourishing, wholesome versions of comfort foods alongside playful raw dishes, while devoting her restaurant’s ethos to animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and long-term health. In utter support of Counter Culture’s mission and drooling over the tantalizing photos on their website, I quite looked forward to sampling their dinner fare. Though the Raw Bruschetta with flax crackers, cashew cheese, pesto, and tomatoes called my name, Ashley turned down my offer to split the appetizer, arguing that she’d like to save her money for dessert. Her miserliness couldn’t stop me, however, from ordering the Meltdown sandwich—a creamy garbanzo bean “tuna” salad with celery and dulse flakes, topped with melty cashew cheese and sliced tomatoes, layered between two slices of toasted gluten-free bread and accompanied by a side of the novel Pac Man salad of kale, Pac-Man-shaped carrot slices, and chia seeds in a creamy garlic dressing. If you recall my recent declaration of love for sandwiches, you can no doubt envision a starry-eyed, beaming Ali munching on the Meltdown’s hearty layers, each bursting with unique flavor (including the tomatoes! Perhaps the south enjoys quality tomatoes earlier in the year than does the midwest). After analyzing Counter Culture’s online menu, Ashley continually expressed her excitement toward ordering the Jackfruit BBQ sandwich—shredded jackfruit smothered in chipotle barbeque sauce, topped with red onions and pickles, and stuffed inside a multigrain hoagie bun, accompanied by a side of perfectly roasted sweet potatoes and beets. The meal certainly lived up to Ashley’s high expectations, causing her to exclaim how surprisingly accurately the shredded jackfruit resembled pulled pork (in texture and flavor, not oppression and exploitation, of course). For dessert, Ashley and I shared an ice cream sundae of vanilla coconut milk ice cream (supplied by local vegan ice creamery Sweet Ritual, which Ashley and I would visit in two days), silky raw cashew cream, and berries, as well as a tropical-flavored raw truffle of almonds, dried pineapple, shredded coconut, and dates. While delicious, the meal left my stomach not quite as full as I would have preferred; Counter Culture seems to keep its portions on the small side. I knew I should have partaken in that bruschetta appetizer!

Counter Culture interior.

Meltdown Sandwich with Pac-Man kale salad.

BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich with roasted sweet potatoes and beets.

Ice cream sundae.

Raw tropical truffle.

After catching a bus back to Ashley’s apartment and pajama-ing up, we planned our eating excursions for the following day, which would include lunch at Austin’s staple macrobiotic, community-based restaurant, Casa de Luz, and dinner at the gourmet raw eatery of Beets Cafe. Stay tuned for summaries of those meals in an upcoming post.

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #63

Breakfast: A green smoothie of 1/2 a cameo apple, 1/2 of a frozen banana, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tsp maca, 1/2 tsp spirulina, 1 tbsp goji berries, a large handful of kale, and 1/2 cup Gingerberry kombucha, topped with the last half-cupful of my most recent granola creation featuring GF rolled oats, raw buckwheat groats, unsweetened shredded coconut, flaxseed meal, pecans, and walnuts coated in a puree of apples, dried apricots, almond extract, cardamom, cinnamon, and coconut oil.

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Though I ran out of almond milk for this particular smoothie, later this morning I blended up an experimental milk comprised of the nutty odds-and-ends in my pantry to create a hybrid almond-cashew-pistachio-flax milk. Tinted slightly green from the pistachios, this milk serves as a deliciously creamy precursor to the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and boasts those heart-healthy omega-3′s about which we health-conscious folk rave thanks to the flax seeds. I may just start regularly incorporating different nuts into my homemade milk routine to compliment the standard almonds.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseed meal, pecans, walnuts. Whole Grain—GF rolled oats, buckwheat. Fruit—apple, banana, goji berries, dried apricots. Leafy Green—kale. Superfood—hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, goji berries, maca, flaxseed meal, kombucha.

Morning Tea: Pukka Herbs’ Three Fennel tea with sweet fennel seed, wild fennel seed, and fennel leaf.

I picked up three sample packets of this lovely tea at last weekend’s NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and have adored its powerful anise flavor and aroma for the past couple of days. A huge sucker for anything fennel, I fell in love with this tea upon first glance and deeply regret having already exhausted my meager supply of it. Perhaps a tea shipment is in order…

Lunch: A salad of mixed greens, shredded carrots, slivered almonds, diced dried apricots, sage-braised giant white beans, brown rice, and dulse seaweed flakes, all tossed in Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with Bao Fermented Food’s Green Raw Slaw of kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens, apples, pears, garlic, and ginger.

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Unexpected leftovers discovered in the refrigerator comprise a wonderfully positive aspect of living in Ferry Haus along with 20 other talented veg*n cooks. The sage-braised white beans gracing this salad stem from one such occasion of wonderful lunchtime surprise.

As for the Green Raw Slaw, I picked up a jar from Bao’s booth at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival and cannot adequately express my happiness with my frugal ($4 off of the original price at the festival!) and mouthwatering purchase. Kale and fermented food all rolled into one immensely flavorful salad topper? Be still my beating heart.

Meal Checklist: Protein—white beans, almonds. Whole Grain—brown rice. Vegetables/Fruit—carrots, apricots, apples, pears, garlic, ginger, dulse flakes. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, radish greens.

Afternoon Beverage: Choice Organic White Peony tea.

A bottle of GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha in Gingerade flavor.

Dinner: A simple saute of broccoli, brussels sprouts, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos; an amaranth-millet pilaf seasoned with liquid smoke and paprika; and a pile of crunchy roasted chickpeas seasoned with liquid smoke, agave nectar, and paprika.

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Stay tuned for the recipe for this deeply satisfying dish, inspired by my mother (who recently adopted a vegan diet after watching Forks Over Knives), in an upcoming blog post.

Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas. Whole Grain—amaranth, millet. Vegetables—brussels sprouts, broccoli. Leafy Greens—brussels sprouts, broccoli.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Comment Provoking Questions: Do you like to combine different nut/seed varieties when making plant-based milks? How do you feel about fennel/anise-flavored items? Does your local grocer carry Bao’s tasty raw, fermented products? Have you tried roasting chickpeas before?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #62

Breakfast: A green smoothie of 1/2 a jonagold apple, 1/2 of a frozen banana, a handful of frozen blueberries, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tsp maca, 1/2 tsp spirulina, 1 tbsp goji berries, 3 leaves of kale, and 1/2 cup homemade almond milk, topped with a half-cupful of my latest granola creation featuring GF rolled oats, raw buckwheat groats, unsweetened shredded coconut, flaxseed meal, pecans, and walnuts coated in a puree of apples, dried apricots, almond extract, cardamom, cinnamon, and coconut oil.

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Breakfast Checklist: Protein—chia seeds, hemp seeds, almond milk, flaxseed meal, pecans, walnuts. Whole Grain—GF rolled oats, buckwheat. Fruit—apple, banana, blueberries, goji berries, dried apricots. Leafy Green—kale. Superfood—hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, goji berries, maca, flaxseed meal.

Morning Tea: Eden Organic Genmaicha Tea.

Lunch: A deconstructed salad of sorts (perhaps “lettuce wraps” would serve as the correct term?) of four large leaves of lettuce schmeared with hummus and topped with quinoa, celery, mushrooms, sauerkraut, and dulse flakes, all drizzled with Liquid Gold Dressing.

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Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas and tahini in hummus. Whole Grain—quinoa. Vegetables—mushrooms, celery. Leafy Greens—lettuce, cabbage in sauerkraut, dulse flakes.

Afternoon Beverage: Choice Organic White Peony tea.

A bottle of GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha in Hibiscus (Botanic No. 7) flavor.

Dinner: A comforting and astoundingly flavorful soup of lentils and split peas cooked down into a creamy puree with mushrooms, celery, leeks, and cubes of tofu, served over a bed of wilted kale and topped with a brown rice-black bean pilaf as well as a sprinkling of nutritional yeast.

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Thanks to Franny and Robyn for anoter scrumptious Ferry dinner!

Meal Checklist: Protein—lentils, split peas, tofu, black bean. Whole Grain—brown rice. Vegetables—mushrooms, celery, leeks. Leafy Greens—kale.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #61

Breakfast: A green smoothie of 1/2 of a winesap apple, 1/2 of a frozen banana, a small handful of frozen raspberries, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1 tbsp goji berries, 1/2 tsp spirulina, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1/2 cup WholeSoy Organic Unsweetened Plain Yogurt, and 4 medium leaves of curly green kale, topped with a generous 1/2-cupful of a variation on Amie Sue’s Maple Pumpkin Spice Crunch Cereal.

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I’ve recently embarked on a mission to pack a bit of padding on my slender frame, and have thus started incorporating more calorie-dense, healthy fat sources into my meals—this accounts for both the peanut butter and coconut oil gracing the smoothie I’ve featured here.

A note on the soy yogurt: Ferry House just received a bulk order of 24 oz. containers of WholeSoy Organic Unsweetened Plain Yogurt, the ingredients of which include simply soy milk, cornstarch, and live active vegan cultures. While I usually opt to exclude soy yogurt from my diet, due to the inclusion of various sugars and questionable chemical-esque products in most brands, I’ve fallen head-over-heels in love with the WholeSoy yogurt thanks to its probiotic content, creamy texture, and short ingredient list. The yogurt lends a pleasing tang and velvety consistency to smoothies such as the one above.

As for the cereal, I slightly altered Amie Sue’s original recipe by substituting half of the rolled oats for raw buckwheat groats, replacing the pumpkin puree with that of apples, using two medjool dates in place of 2 tbsp of the maple syrup, and baking the cereal at 260° for about 90 minutes. The resulting cereal proved flaky, crunchy, and just the right balance of sweet and oaty (no, these two characteristics don’t seem like opposites, but think about how you would describe unsweetened, “hippie-crunchy” granola. Oaty, right?).

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—hemp seeds, chia seeds, peanut butter, soy yogurt, almond pulp in cereal. Whole Grain—rolled oats and buckwheat in cereal. Fruit—apple, banana, raspberries, goji berries, dates in cereal. Leafy Green—kale. Superfood—hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, goji berries.

Morning Tea: Numi’s Chocolate Pu-Erh tea.

Lunch: A saute of mushrooms, shredded brussels sprouts, kale, almond butter, and balsamic vinegar, topped with tangy marinated mixed beans and a sprinkling of nutritional yeast, accompanied by two thick slices of Leek-Sundried Tomato Bread stuffed with the vegan mozzarella cheese from the Sept+Oct 2012 issue of VegNews (bread recipe inspired by Ricki Heller’s Cheese-Filled Onion and Olive Bread), drizzled with flax oil.

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Moist, dense, hearty, and oh-so-savory, the cheese-stuffed bread provided both novelty and immense flavor. However, I do wish that I had opted to employ a flour other than the quinoa, for its pronounced bitterness tended to overwhelm the palate’s experience of the bread. I would certainly still call this bread a huge success, though! My enthusiastic Ferry housemates would definitely agree.

My changes to Ricki’s original recipe: replaced olives with sundried tomatoes; substituted leeks for green onions; and used quinoa flour in place of amaranth flour, oat flour in place of millet flour, and chickpea flour in place of soy flour.

Meal Checklist: Protein—mixed beans, tahini, almond milk, flaxseed meal, chickpea flour (last four in bread), soy yogurt in mozzarella. Whole Grain—quinoa and oat flours in bread. Vegetables—mushrooms, leeks, sundried tomatoes. Leafy Greens—kale, brussels sprouts.

Afternoon Beverage: Choice Organic White Peony tea.

A bottle of GT’s Organic Raw Kombucha in Gingerade flavor.

Dinner: Three Polenta Sweet Corn Cakes topped with schmears of vegan mozzarella and accompanied by crisp greens tossed in a dressing of olive oil, Dijon mustard, cumin, nutritional yeast, and apple cider vinegar, and topped with both a salsa of tomatoes, cucumbers, mango, jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice, as well as a dollop of tangy marinated mixed beans.

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Thanks to my dear housemates Tori and Alex for such a splendid dinner!

Meal Checklist: Protein—marinated mixed beans, soy yogurt in mozzarella. Whole Grain—cornmeal. Vegetables—corn, cucumber, cilantro, tomato, mango, jalapeno. Leafy Greens—lettuce.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Comment Provoking Questions: How do you feel about soy yogurt? Do you find the flavor of quinoa flour overwhelming? How do you temper its intensity?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #60

Breakfast: A rather unorthodox green smoothie of a large carrot, about 1/2 cup frozen strawberries, 1 tbsp flaxseed meal, about 1/2 tsp each of spirulina and maca, 1 tbsp goji berries, 1 tsp peanut butter, five medium collard leaves, and 3/4 cup water, topped with the last of a batch of Matcha Green Tea Pistachio Biscotti—that I’ve kept from Christmas in my mini-fridge’s freezer—from Dreena Burton’s latest cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan!.

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This unusual, carrot-based breakfast concoction topped with the dregs of my holiday cookies stems from a lack of my staple smoothie ingredients: no frozen bananas or apples to form the smoothie’s base, no almond milk to facilitate blending, no chia or hemp seeds for added omega-3′s or protein, and no granola to sprinkle on top. Oy vey! Though it certainly satisfied my hunger, the “smoothie” left my tastebuds feeling rather underappreciated—so much so that I immediately ran out to Vassar’s nearest health food store to purchase bananas and my two favorite seeds, baked up a loaf of walnut-and-wild-rice-laden Straun Bread from “Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread” to slather with almond butter and serve alongside a tall glass of juice the next morning, and set out a bowl of almonds to soak. Ahh, everything has become right with Ali’s breakfast world once more.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—flaxseed meal, peanut butter, chickpea flour, pistachios (last two in biscotti). Whole Grain—brown rice flour in biscotti. Fruit—strawberries, goji berries. Leafy Green—collard greens. Superfood—flaxseed meal, spirulina, maca, goji berries. Added Veggie Bonus!—carrots.

Morning Tea: Numi’s Chocolate Pu-Erh tea.

I’ve reveled in the decadence of Numi’s Coconut Pu-Erh in the past, but opted to sample their Chocolate version at the recommendation of Gabby from the lovely blog, VeggieNook. Certainly living up to my expectations, this tea—deeply flavored and nicely balanced between sweet and bitter—has become my new staple morning beverage.

Lunch: A massaged kale salad consisting of 3 large leaves of curly green kale, four shredded brussels sprouts, and three large button mushrooms massaged with the Curried Almond Dressing from Dreena Burton’s Kale Slaw recipe and stirred together with alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, dulse seaweed flakes, and wild rice, dusted with nutritional yeast and topped with a dollop of kimchi from Hawthorne Valley.

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Yet another astronomic benefit of living in Vassar’s veg*n co-op known as Ferry House, a generous pile of kale constantly waits in the communal refrigerator, practically begging we Fairies to massage it with homemade dressing and a mess of mixed veggies. Since moving in to Ferry, I’ve happily obliged the demands of this crucifer during most of my lunches, and thus enjoy massaged kale salads even more often than I used to (which could never be a bad thing).

Meal Checklist: Protein—almonds in dressing. Whole Grain—wild rice. Vegetables—mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, kimchi veggies. Leafy Greens—kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage in sauerkraut, dulse seaweed.

Afternoon Beverage: Eden Organic Genmaicha green tea.

Dinner: A black bean-brown rice burger, loosely based off of Candle 79′s Chipotle Burgers, topped with caramelized onions and bell peppers as well as a slice of fresh tomato, accompanied by a pile of mixed salad greens tossed with the Curried Almond Dressing from Dreena Burton’s Kale Slaw recipe.

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My darling housemate Noah prepared the burgers and caramelized onions, while I supplemented the otherwise green-less dinner with some salad and dressing. Incidentaly, the burgers tasted especially divine when dipped in the dressing—though I suppose that anything would when slathered in one of Dreena Burton’s culinary creations.

Meal Checklist: Protein—black beans, almonds. Whole Grain—brown rice. Vegetables—onions, bell peppers, garlic, tomato. Leafy Greens—mixed salad greens.

After-Dinner Beverage: Traditional Medicinals’ Organic Eater’s Digest tea.

Comment Provoking Questions: What do you have for breakfast when supplies are running low? What is your go-to morning tea? How often do you enjoy a kale salad? What is your favorite recipe of Dreena Burton’s?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.