Vegan Moroccan Stew {Recipe ReDux}

Scary spices.

No, I’m not talking about your least favorite Spice Girl. I’m talking the theme for this month’s Recipe ReDux:

Spooky Spices: You know they are lurking there: Way in the back of your spice drawer. There lie the herbs, spices, or rubs that are getting dusty because you’re afraid to use them… you simply don’t know what to do with them! Well, pull them out and show us a recipe you created to deliciously conquer that fearful spice. (Or maybe the recipe was a flop – and the spice still give you nightmares?!)

I’d say I’m not scared of too many spices. I love to combine spices in unusual ways to completely alter/upgrade a recipe.

So at first, I was completely stumped.

Then, like a gift from the gods, my friend gave me some amazing saffron. I like the flavor and color that saffron brings to recipes, but I had never used it in my own cooking.

saffron

So, I started doing my research and one article gave mention of using saffron with cinnamon and cumin — SOLD! Saffron can give a bitter taste to dishes if not treated properly. To make sure I mantained the beautiful taste and depth that saffron can lend, I first ground the saffron using a mortar and pestle (my Grandma’s mortar and pestle, in fact — brought all the way from Turkey). Then, I steeped it — like you would tea — in hot (but NOT boiling) water for about 30 minutes, yielding the most beautiful golden liquid.

vegan_moroccan_saffron_stew

From there, it was time to make stew! Not just any stew…Moroccan-style, VEGAN, warming stew. Enjoy!

Recipe: Vegan Moroccan Stew

This dish is perfect for a cool fall day. If you need gluten-free, use one block of extra firm (crumbled) tofu in place of the tempeh.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pinch saffron (about 25 strands)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 1 eggplant, cubed
  • 3 cups mushrooms, such as criminis, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut or olive oil
  • 2 blocks tempeh, crumbled by hand
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, preferably no salt added
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 1/3 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Heat 1/2 cup water until hot, but not boiling. While water is heating, grind saffron using a mortar and pestle, or even with your fingers if you don’t have a mortar and pestle. Add the ground saffron to a small dish and pour hot water over it. Let steep.
  2. In a large pot, saute onion in oil. Once onions are translucent, add mushrrooms and eggplant and saute for 10 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes, crumbled tempeh, spices, salt, apple juice, steeped saffon/water combo and raisins and simmer for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Garnish with raisins or a sprinkling of ground saffron if desired.

vegan_tempeh_saffron_stew

Check out how fellow Recipe ReDuxers use “spooky spices” by clicking on the little blue guy below. Enjoy!

Eggplant Chips with Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Hummus {Recipe ReDux}

My Grandma used to make the most delicious roasted eggplant with yogurt sauce. Velvety smooth, garlicky, cooked for hours…

The fact that I could never duplicate that dish could be attributed to many things — I didn’t use enough oil, I went too light on the garlic, I used the wrong type of yogurt for the sauce — but when it all boils down, no one can do it better than Grandma. Am I right?

While I love my Grandma’s eggplant dish, I myself could never really get eggplant right. It would turn out soggy or tasteless or morph into a weird texture when cooked. I loathe eggplant because I am a perfectionist and, well, the things I created up until now were far from perfection.

I’m always up for a challenge, though, so for this month’s Recipe ReDux theme of dehydrated food (either doing the dehydrating yourself or incorporating dehydrated ingredients into a dish), I figured it was time to meet my culinary nemesis.

Eggplant, you ain’t got nothing on me. Doesn’t hold a candle to Grandma’s Eggplant, but it’s pretty damn delicious.

eggplant_chips_pumpkin_hummus

It turns out eggplant chips aren’t so difficult. And you don’t even need a fancy dehyrator. Nope, these were dehydrated right in our old crappy oven.

What really makes these eggplant chips, though, is that dreamy pumpkin hummus made with roasted garlic.

peeled_garlic

Do you all know the trick to peeling a lot of garlic very quickly?

Peel the outside layers off of the bulb, plop the whole thing in a container with a lid, and shake it like a Polaroid picture. Like, really shake it. Your muscles should be sore, no joke. I don’t know how, but this assault to the garlic magically gets all of the peels off while keeping each clove intact.

This is a great party trick, depending on the type of party.

So once you’ve magically peeled your garlic, it’s ready to be roasted on the stove. Just place it in a small saucepan, pour in enough olive oil to cover the cloves fully, and heat the oil/garlic until it starts to simmer. Then remove from heat and let cool.

You now have both roasted garlic AND garlic-infused olive oil! Now what to do with all of this deliciousness?

pumpkin_hummus

Hummus, obviously! And since it feels like fall in Chicago, PUMPKIN hummus. The roasted garlic and garlic oil also make an excellent pesto sauce, FYI.

Recipe: Eggplant Chips with Roasted Garlic Pumpkin Hummus

You can eat these together or separately, they are both delicious in their own right. I can’t wait to try the eggplant chips with a yogurt sauce and the hummus with, lets be honest, everything. Man I love hummus.

Ingredients

Eggplant Chips:

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into very thin rounds (1/8″ or 1/16″). Use a mandolin if you have one.
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt

Pumpkin Hummus

  • 2 (16 oz) cans low sodium chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pumpkin, or 2 cups roasted/pureed pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup garlic olive oil (see above for how to make your own)
  • 4-6 cloves roasted garlic (also see above)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. tahini or nut butter, such as almond or cashew butter
  • 2 Tbsp. local honey
  • 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

sliced_eggplant

Directions

Eggplant Chips:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Place metal cooling racks on top of baking sheets (I needed two in order to fit all of the eggplant). The cooling racks allow air to circulate around the whole eggplant chip, helping it to dehydrate more effectively.
  3. Spray the cooking rack with cooking spray. Salt one side of the eggplant piece, then lay salted side down on the rack. Do this with all of the eggplant rounds, then spray the tops of the eggplant with cooking spray and sprinkle salt over the eggplant (so that both sides are salted). This will help draw moisture out during the dehydrating process.
  4. Place baking sheets in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate pans then bake for another 30 minutes. Flip the chips and then bake for another 15-30 minutes, or until the eggplant is slightly browned and crispy.

Pumpkin Hummus:

  1. Place all ingredients in a large food processor and process until desired consistency.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Drizzle with honey and olive oil for serving.

eggplant_chips_hummus

{side note: how frickin’ adorable is the green polka dot mini casserole dish in the picture?! Expect a fruit crumble or vegetable bake at some point in the very near future. Thank you, World Market.}

For more amazing dehydrated recipes from the talented Recipe ReDuxers, follow the link below (click on the little blue guy).

Avocado, Apple and Cabbage “Green” Slaw

Happy Labor Day, y’all! (I am not from the south and really should never use the term, “y’all” but it seemed necessary here).

If your Labor Day is going to see some BBQ action, make sure there are some healthy options available. This slaw is both creamy from the avocado and tart from the sour apple. It’s the perfect complement to meat or other grilled proteins. 

If you can’t find sour apples — mine were from my local farmers market — you can most definitely use tart green apples.

apple_avocado_slaw

Avocado, Apple and Cabbage Slaw

This recipe is perfect with meat, chicken or fish. The apples add a nice tartness that cuts through any fattiness of meat.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head green or red cabbage
  • 1 fresh, ripe avocado
  • 1 sour apple, julienne-style (or use a green apple)
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, such as Bragg’s
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Directions:

  1. Peel, seed and mash avocado
  2. Roughly chop cabbage (should be thin strands)
  3. Mix cabbage with mashed avocado, julienned apple, vinegar, lemon juice and salt. 

Happy grilling!

apple_avocado_slaw_pork

Eggs Nestled In Vegetables

Eggs are, quite possibly, one of my favorite foods. Full of protein, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats — all for 70 calories a pop (for a large egg).

Enough about nutrition, though. Let’s focus on the best part of an egg: the yolk. That perfectly runny, unctuous, food porn-worthy (I’ll admit I enjoy egg yolk porn from time to time), delicious yolk.

While frying, poaching and baking (see my recipes for Eggs Baked in Spaghetti Squash Nests and Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce) are great and all, my latest creation, which I call “nestled eggs”, definitely takes the yolk cake.

nestled_eggs_beet_greens

It’s a super-easy and versatile recipe, first off. Just saute fresh, frozen or leftover vegetables, plop some eggs in and top with olives, hummus, sweet potatoes, whatever! 

It’s also a leave-it-alone kind of recipe. Once you plop the eggs in and cover it, you can go get ready for the day. I generally do my makeup and get dressed while this is cooking.

Now that’s just good time management.

Nestled eggs make for a satisfying, low carb, paleo-friendly, gluten-free breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s also a great way to get some extra vegetables into your day.

Eggs Nestled in Vegetables

This is a very flexible recipe. Try it with a vegetable of choice, or even use leftover vegetables. Finish it off with toppings of choice. Some of my favorites include Kalamata olives, hummus or pesto for dipping and balsamic vinegar.

Yields: 1 serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups greens or other vegetable of choice (I used locally-grown beet greens — the stems from my beets — above)
  • 1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
  • 2-3 eggs, depending on how hungry you are
  • Toppings/sauces of choice (I used 2 Tbsp. hummus, leftover sweet potatoes and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar above).
  • Pinch of pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. olive or coconut oil and heat for 1 minute. Add greens, or vegetable of choice, and optional garlic to the pan and saute for 2-4 minutes. 
  2. Spread the vegetable mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Crack eggs right into the vegetable mixture.
  4. Sprinkle with pepper and any other spices you like.
  5. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook eggs for 5-7 minutes, or until the egg whites are set.
  6. Plate the nestled eggs and serve with toppings of choice.

 

For dinner, I like to pair the nestled eggs with protein pancakes — perfection!

nestled_eggs_yellow_squash_olives

Another take on nestled eggs, made with locally-grown golden squash and garlic, topped with sliced Kalamata olives.

Cookie Dough Protein Bites {Recipe ReDux}

Who doesn’t like COOKIE DOUGH?? Well, I’ve healthified it for this month’s Recipe ReDux challenge — “Bars & Bites for Brown Bags.”

 

Whether you pack your lunch in a bento box, a brown bag or a retro cartoon character lunch box, don’t forget the bars and bites. Small squares or round bites can pack nutrition into a sweet or savory taste. Show us your favorite way to jazz up any type of lunch box.

 

While these would make a great “dessert” for a lunch box, they are quite perfect for a post-workout snack. Pair with a glass of milk and you’re golden.

This recipe was inspired by Juli from PaleOMG’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Balls

protein_cookie_dough_bites

Cookie Dough Protein Bites

Yield: 20-22 bites

Besides having 6 grams protein per ball bite (“per ball” just didn’t sound right…), these cookie dough bites are gluten-free, can be made vegan by using a vegan protein powder and contain no raw eggs — because ain’t nobody got time for food poisoning.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup vanilla protein powder, such as Gold Standard Natural or Designer Whey (if making vegan, use vegan protein powder, such as Vega)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 3 Tbsp. liquid coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey, preferably local
  • 3 Tbsp. coconut or almond milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips, such as Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Using hands, form “dough” into 1″ rounds
  3. Store in the freezer

 

These are seriously addicting, you guys. I made them yesterday and my boyfriend has already eaten all but two of them. So, if you have a significant other, family member or roommate who loves cookies and/or protein powder (the boyfriend loves both), I highly recommending hiding these things. They go FAST.

For more back to school bites & bars, click the blue guy below.

Bourbon Old Fashioned Reduction Over Bruleed Stone Fruits {Recipe ReDux}

Mmm, booze. Who doesn’t enjoy a cocktail every night on occasion?

Well, the folks at Recipe ReDux challenged us to go beyond the cocktail and use our favorite alcohol as a recipe ingredient:

From plain Jane vanilla extract to fancy-pants elderflower liqueur, we like to keep a little liquor in the kitchen. Show us how you like to cook, bake or mix-it-up with spirits, extracts and other alcohols. A splash of vodka makes summer sauces shine – and liqueurs brighten desserts: What’s your healthy recipe with spirit?

Bourbon_Peaches_Plums

I thought of about a thousand and one different recipes that I wanted to make, most of which involved raki, an unsweetened, anise-infused alcohol (similar to the Greek ouzo) that is the national drink of Turkey (where my dad is from).

After a failed search for raki, however, my plans changed. It became all about the bourbon, specifically, Maker’s Mark.

I will admit that I generally only like to drink clear alcohol (e.g. vodka, gin) but for desserts, bourbon can’t be beat for the amazingly rich, deep flavor it lends.

Now I love a bourbon caramel sauce over bread pudding (see my recipe for Bourbon Caramel Cake Pudding), but I wanted to lighten it up. I promise you, you won’t even miss the bread pudding on this recipe.

I don’t even like Old Fashioneds, but when you reduce all the ingredients to a sauce…perfection!

Bourbon Old Fashioned Reduction Over Bruleed Stone Fruits

You’ll want to put the sauce over EVERYTHING — ice cream, pancakes, waffles, into coffee, etc. Feel free to use whatever stone fruits you have on hand.

Old_Fashioned_Reduction

Ingredients:

  • 5-6 stone fruits, such as plums, peaches or nectarines
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 orange

Directions:

  1. Set oven to Broil.
  2. Cut stone fruit in half lengthwise (along the pit, like you would an avocado)
  3. Remove the pits
  4. Lay, cut side up, in a casserole dish. Peaches_Plums
  5. Sprinkle cut side of fruit with 1/4 cup sugar.Peaches_Plums_Sugar
  6. Broil for 5-10 minutes (make sure to check constantly), until you get a nice golden crust on the fruit.
  7. While the fruit is in the oven, add bourbon, 2 Tbsp. sugar and orange juice to a small saucepan. Heat on medium until the mixture reduces to about 1/4 cup.
  8. Drizzle “bruleed” fruit with Old Fashioned Reduction.

Bruleed_Fruit

Old_Fashioned_Reduction

Bourbon_Peaches_Plums

Check out more delicious, boozy creations from fellow Recipe ReDuxers by clicking on the link below.

Mediterranean Cremini Mushroom Tacos with Tahini Sauce {Recipe ReDux Sponsored Post}

Mmm, umami.

What is umami you ask? It’s the fifth, and often unrecognized, type of taste bud. It’s the taste bud that senses savory deliciousness (and my personal favorite of all the tastes). Examples of umami-rich foods include meat/seafood, tomatoes, cheese — especially Parmesan, seaweed, soy, potatoes and of course, MUSHROOMS!

So imagine my excitement when I discovered that the folks at the Mushroom Council were sponsoring this month’s Recipe ReDux. They challenged us to use their “Trend to Blend” technique to either blend chopped, diced or minced mushrooms in place of at least half of the meat in a recipe using their blendability technique (you should seriously check it out, it’s genius!). Or, we had the option to forgo the meat altogether and make a purely vegetarian dish.

After some serious pondering, I took the latter route.

mushroom_tacos1

Side note: if you, too, love mushrooms, you can enter your own recipe in the Mushroom Council’s “Swap It or Top It” contest. Just submit your favorite burger recipe that either uses the blendability technique described above, swaps out meat completely for mushrooms or your favorite burger recipe topped with a delicious mushroom creation. The Mushroom Council is giving some top-notch prizes, like $5,000 cashola to the Grand Prize Winner. Not too shabby!

Besides delicious umami flavor, mushrooms are packed with nutrition. They’re low in calories (20 calories for 5 medium sized shrooms!), fat-free, cholesterol-free (that one’s kind of a no-brainer), low in sodium and also provide important nutrients, mainly selenium, potassium, vitamin D and more.

For vegans and vegetarians, mushrooms are a great way to bring some umami (read: satisfying) flavor back into meals. And for the meat-eaters, myself included, mushrooms can help you switch up your meals a bit (meatless Mondays, anyone?). I promise you won’t even miss the meat on these bad boys.

Recipe: Mediterranean Cremini Mushroom Tacos with Tahini Sauce

The tahini sauce is a perfect complement to lend creamy deliciousness without the use of dairy/animal products. You can find pre-made tahini sauce (Trader Joe’s has a new one that I’m OBSESSED with), or make your own as I did below by blending tahini (sesame paste) with lemon juice and garlic. A third option would be to top with hummus.

Mediterranean_Mushroom_Tacos

By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Mushroom Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Yield: 4 tacos

Ingredients:

For mushroom blend:

  • 1, 10 oz. package Cremini mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed using a garlic press
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For tacos:

  • Sauteed mushroom blend (ingredients above)
  • 1 plum tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 4 corn tacos

Directions:

For mushroom blend:

  1. Wash mushrooms well and dice using a chef’s knife.
  2. Heat 2 cloves minced garlic in 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil for one minute.
  3. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add turmeric, basil, cumin, pepper and salt to mushrooms and saute an additional 1-2 minutes.

For tacos:

  1. Mix 1 clove minced garlic with lemon juice and tahini to form the tahini sauce.
  2. Heat corn tortillas in microwave for 15-20 seconds, until soft and pliable.
  3. Place 1/4 of the mushroom blend on each tortilla.
  4. Top with tomatoes, cucumbers and 1/4 of tahini sauce mixture.

mushrooms

Mushrooms all diced and ready to go into a saute pan…

diced_mushrooms

Sauteeing away — see how the turmeric gives the blend a gorgeous golden color?!

sauteed_mushrooms

In goes the mushroom blend…

mushrooms_tortillas

Then the tomatoes and cucumbers…

mushroom_tacos

Finish it off with delicious tahini sauce…

Mediterranean_Mushroom_Tacos

Check out more delicious ways that Recipe ReDuxers used mushrooms by following the link below!