July 21, 2014

Pineapple Basil Quinoa Salad

In my vacation meal planning post, I talked about this amazing quinoa salad that I made at the beach and promised to include the recipe on the blog. Well here it is!


 It's wonderful on its own, but my boo loves to eat it along with baked breaded tofu and a few lime wedges, too.

Since we've been receiving an abundance of basil from our CSA this year, we've been making this grain salad a lot. The dressing always changes slightly (and I've included several ingredient options below), but it's always amazing. That's good news for those of you who don't have all of the ingredients necessary. Make this salad in the confidence that it will be great no matter what, and that if you make it exactly as written, you won't want to eat anything else for weeks. Maybe that's an exaggeration, but I dare you to try this and not fall in love with it.



Pineapple Basil Quinoa Salad

For the salad:
1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
1 cup pineapple, chopped, fresh if possible
1/2 cup black beans
3/4 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chiffonade of basil, loosely packed

For the dressing:
1/3 cup pineapple juice*
2 tsp ginger, minced
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp mirin
1 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil**

-Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
-Whisk the dressing together in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Mix to incorporate.
-For the best taste and to bring out the maximum flavor, cover and place in the fridge overnight.
-Before serving the following day, be sure to give it a good stir.

*For the pineapple juice, I juiced a fresh pineapple (this is a great way to use up the core). If you're using canned pineapple for the recipe, you can use the juice from the can as long as it is 100% juice and not a sugar syrup. If neither of these options works for you, you can also use 1/3 cup of low sodium vegetable broth + a 1/2 Tbsp of coconut nectar (or maple syrup).

**If you are an oil-free eater, you can leave the oil out of the recipe with little effect to the end product. The reason it is in the recipe is because it helps the dressing adhere to the salad ingredients rather than sink to the bottom of whatever container you're using. If you do leave it out, store the quinoa salad in a shallow dish or bowl so that most of it will be immersed in the dressing.

June 26, 2014

What We Ate at the Beach: A Week of Amazing Vegan Meals

As I mentioned last time, I recently spent a week at the beach with my family.


Beach time is me time, more specifically me at one with nature time. I don't go online except for a very few occasions; this time I went online to promote my Purely Elizabeth post and to check Instagram once or twice. Other than that, I was totally unplugged. I feel so much calmer and happier when I don't have the pressure to keep up with everything else that's happening in the world. It's so beneficial to stand back every now and again.

I spent most of my time in the water (it's home), reading on the beach, watching the wildlife (where have all the sand pipers gone?!), taking walks along the coast with my love, gazing at the stars, playing board games with my family, building puzzles with my brother, and cooking nourishing meals. The latter is that which I'll focus on in this post.

Meal planning makes eating on vacation so freaking easy. I have a tried-and-true formula that I've used for years. For a week, I generally plan 4 dinners, 3 lunches, and 3 breakfasts. I assume that there will be leftovers and that sometimes we won't be all that hungry for a big meal. On the days that I don't make a special vegan breakfast for everyone, I count on the fact that I'll be making a smoothie for myself and plan accordingly. We always keep a variety of fruit in our place and I also plan out a few snacks to have on hand because it's not always easy to find healthy snacks.

Here's the breakdown of this year's meals:

Breakfast


This is my dad's favorite breakfast of all time, so of course I make it every single vacation! The tofu scramble is loaded with vegetables like red bell pepper, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and chard and I also added in black beans and my own blend of spices and seasonings. It was served with a side of rosemary roasted red potatoes and vegan sausage. My dad is really getting into the Field Roast brand lately, so I thought it would be nice to try their new breakfast sausages. They're really good!

One of J's favorite breakfasts is waffles. My go-to waffle recipe is this gluten-free one from Waffle Party which I alter only slightly. I mix the dry ingredients and bring them down in a jar so that all I have to do in the morning is add the wet ingredients and I'm ready to go. My mom has a double waffle maker which makes the cooking process even quicker. Since this was J's meal, I made his favorite waffle toppings: raw berry compote (my own recipe), toasted pecans, maple syrup, and cinnamon.


My dad took his turn making breakfast when he made these palachinkas. Palachinkas are basically Eastern European crepes. One of my favorite breakfasts when I was little, I'd fill them with jam, roll them up, and top them with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Dad is still working on veganizing his palachinka recipe, but I scarfed them up nonetheless. I filled mine with fresh mixed berries and topped it with cinnamon and Bee Free Honee.

That's it for our fancy breakfasts. We had leftover waffles which we ate one day and for the ride home I made J and I burritos with rice wraps, leftover scrambled tofu, and crumbled sausage. The other days were fruit days.

Lunch

Lunch is the one meal that isn't completely necessary to plan for. I ate a lot of fruit (watermelon FTW) and made some hummus wraps with cherry tomatoes and heaps of lettuce as well. I found that I really wasn't hungry enough to eat a large meal at this time, especially after eating much heavier breakfasts than I'm used to. Making dips and grain salads is a great idea for lunch time because they can be eaten cold and when you're on the go (pack it and eat it down by the water!). Plus, once you make them (in large quantities), they stay good for several days so it's not too labor intensive.


When I'm about to leave my house for a week, I go into major clean-out-the-fridge mode. I don't like anything to go to waste. At the end of the week, I was short on produce, but had an overabundance of parsley from my CSA. I used it to make this quinoa tabbouleh with sun-dried tomato and cucumbers. It was the perfect lunch food.


I also made this colorful quinoa pineapple basil salad which will be making a presence on the blog very soon! I'm hoping I can make the dressing every bit as delicious as I made it at the beach. As usual, I didn't measure. I couldn't have even if I wanted to though because they had no small measuring spoons! In any case, at first spoonful, this was so bursting with flavors that I knew I needed to share it with others. Get excited for this one!

That's all for lunch. I was planning on making a raw zucchini hummus as well, but it turned out that we didn't need any more food. The recipe I use for this is in the Thrive Foods book, and it's the Zucky Hummus from Crudessence. Everyone always loves this dip. It's the perfect thing to bring along to a potluck or picnic.

Dinner

We made a big salad for the start of all of our dinners. The beginning of our CSA year is always heavy on the greens, and I brought a large cooler bag full of collards, red leaf lettuce, rainbow chard, romaine, and more. My CSA provided a lot of fresh herbs like oregano and thyme, too, which came in handy when it was time to whisk together a quick vinaigrette. At home, J and I love starting our dinners with a nice salad, so we continued that tradition at the beach. Most times, we ate the salads while the rest of our dinner was cooking. That way we weren't waiting around for dinner for too long and also weren't eating salad while our main dishes were getting cold. See how perfectly that works out?! The salads were pretty much the same every night, so I didn't take a picture of it unless it was already in the shot with the main dish.


We always have pineapple pizza. Always. I picked up the Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pizza crust mix for the sake of ease. We topped the crust with 365 brand tomato basil sauce, daiya mozzarella and cheddar shreds, pineapple, red bell pepper, and Field Roast Italian sausages (that were leftover from another meal that I'll get to soon.) It's our classic beach pizza for a reason! Nom nom.


Like I was saying earlier, my dad has been really getting interested in Field Roast products. He had requested a meal to be made with their Italian sausage. Since I used to love hot sausage when I was a meat-eater, I decided to make something similar. I cooked down a huge pile of onions and peppers, added to the skillet some rhubarb (another thing I had an overabundance of from the CSA) barbecue sauce and the Field Roast sausages. J was in charge of potatoes. He asked if I minded if he used Earth Balance instead of olive oil because he really wanted that buttery flavor. I said "Earth Balance it up!" because I knew he was craving his traditional foods and that it would make him happy.


I just finished reading the fabulous new book How to Be Vegan by Elizabeth Castoria, and it had a whole recipe section at the end. I noticed one for Artichoke Alfredo that looked really interesting since the base of the sauce is artichokes and white beans. My dad wanted to have a pasta meal, so I put this simple recipe on the list. Here it is (made with Tinkyada brown rice pasta spirals) pictured with a hefty pinch of nutritional yeast. We also added in some rainbow chard. Man was this good! We had some leftover pasta and also in a separate container had more sauce. I mixed those with leftover lentils (from the meal below) for my dad on our last night and he loved it all over again.


Taco salad, oh my gosh, I love you! Lettuce, carrots, red peppers, chipotle salsa, freshly made guacamole, tortilla chips, Daiya cheddar shreds, and the most awesome vegan taco meat ever. I made the meat with lentils and almonds. You can't really tell from the picture, but this is a pretty big bowl and there are a lot of greens hiding under there. I think this was everyone's choice for best dinner of the week. Again, it was my dad's idea to have taco salad, and I came up with the components. We make a great team! I think this will find it's way to a permanent position on our yearly beach menu. Yeah!

Snacks


The entire month before the beach was taxing on my energy. There was stress and sickness (J's, then mine, then J's again), funerals, and other smaller things that made me feel pretty run down. Not to mention that on this trip I am basically the personal chef for my dad, J, and me, so I was in charge of list-making, grocery shopping, and prepping and packing the food, condiments, spices, etc., for the week. That last thing (the personal chef thing) isn't bad at all. In fact, I totally love doing it. But it, too, was energy draining since it came after all of that other stuff that ran me down. I took the 11 hour drive to the beach as an opportunity to give my body a break and give it some nourishment. I bought (sometimes the convenience of premade juice is so, so nice.) 2 green juices (Evolution and Suja), a root juice (Evolution's Ruby Roots), and a bottle of Harmless Harvest coconut water. We also stopped at Bob Evans at lunch time (my mom wanted their pancakes), and I got a bowl of plain oatmeal. Being vegan in the middle of nowhere can be hard sometimes, but it's far from impossible! After feeding my body all kinds of vitamins and getting a solid night of sleep, I felt refreshed and better than ever for our first morning at the beach. Good Sleep + Juice +  An Ocean Swim = How I want to feel every single day of my life.


Banana soft-serve. How could I not? I couldn't find ripe bananas at the store. In fact, they were all still a bit green. So, I had to wait most of the week for them to ripen. I really wanted them to top our waffles, which really would've rounded out the flavors, but I was also hoping to make them into smoothies and ice cream as well. I made this bowl above on our last night as my dinner. I really wasn't that hungry for anything that heavy, so I made this. On another morning, I made some with strawberries in it for J and me. I think strawberry soft serve is my favorite. At least, I feel like that every time I eat it!


I made some healthy snacks to bring along, too. One was my rice krispy treats which I sadly neglected to snap a picture of (but, hey, I did pretty darn good for the rest of the foods!), and the other was my raw mulberry bliss balls. These were so screamalicious that the recipe will most definitely have to be saved for something very special.

I miss the ocean so much. I can't wait to return. And when I do, as always, I'll have some awesome vegan food in tow!