Category Archives: Vegan

Lemony

Three weeks zoomed by and my husband’s back from his stay in Italy. I am genuinely jealous that, yet again, he got to enjoy a stay in Europe while I sat around at home, bored out of my mind. That’s life as the wife of a poor Ph.D. student. I do have to say that I lost weight while he was gone. For some reason I find myself relentlessly eating when my husband’s around. It might just be his bad influence, or his enthusiasm for snacking, but I found it rather easy to be satiated with my three, low-calorie meals each day and glasses of water.

Speaking of water, my favorite drink this summer has been water with ice and lemon.  When I think about all of the calories I packed on guzzling beer, wine, soda, or sugary coffee drinks, I shudder. Hundreds of empty calories settling around my waist in a sad, spare tire have finally started to melt away with the help of sit-ups and lots and lots of agua. Oh, and of course, VEGGIES. I’ve written about my love of beets before, but I have to include another beet recipe I just discovered.

I came up with the idea of combining lemons and beets from simply opening the fridge door and seeing the two sitting side by side.  The sweetness of the beets pairs with the tangy lemon juice and the ginger adds just a little kick.  I included the fresh thyme to round out the flavors.

 

Chilled Lemony Beet Soup

About 1 lb  (16oz) of cooked beets, sliced

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1 cup water (or stock)

1tblsp olive oil

The juice of 1 large lemon

1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 tblsp fresh thyme or rosemary, minced

1 tsp sea salt

Chopped chives to garnish

Add water/stock and lemon juice to a blender, add beets and onions and blend until smooth, about 2mins.

What you get is a shockingly red no-cook soup that’s both filling and low calorie, not to mention stunningly beautiful.

The licorice-y, minty flavor of pumpernickel rye enhances the earthy flavors of beet and onion.

 

 

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Savory Chickpea Pancakes

I’m kind of a connoisseur when it comes to pancakes. Pancakes have been a Saturday morning staple since I was about ten years old and learned to make them on my own. If I had to name my top comfort food, it would be blueberry pancakes smothered in butter and  maple syrup. Who could resist? Alas, my love of carb-y, starchy goodness had led to a spare tire. I recently dropped 15lbs (and counting!) by vigilantly counting calories and eating a low-glycemic diet. That means no more sugary pancakes for the time being.

I live nearby a wonderful Indian/Pakistani grocery on Devon Avenue, here in Chicago. It is everything a market should be, primarily fresh fruit and vegetables with only a few spare shelves of dry goods and plenty of bulk grains, flours and spices. Every week I feel like I’m going on an adventure and discovering new and wonderful foods. This week I was inspired by some beautiful oyster mushrooms and peppers and decided to make savory chickpea pancakes.

Almost too beautiful to eat.

Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour or besan, is made from dried, ground chickpeas and has been used in Southeast Asian cooking for centuries. It’s high in protein, with a deep, nutty umami flavor it makes a wonderful substitute for grain flour. It’s also completely gluten-free for people who are watching their gluten intake.

Savory Chickpea Pancakes

1 1/4 cup Chickpea flour

1 cup water

1 small egg (optional)

2 Tblsp oil

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1/2 tsp black pepper

Oyster mushrooms (about 1/2lb or 8oz)

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped small

1 large scallion, diced

1 small garlic clove, minced

Mix the spices with the chickpea flour. Add water and egg and beat until smooth. Set aside.

On medium heat, saute vegetables in butter, gee or a little oil for 3-5 minutes until tender crisp. If you are making these cakes for breakfast or brunch, this step can easily be done the night before. If you dice everything up small enough, the vegetables can be added directly to the batter without pre-cooking, however, I find that it makes for a less watery batter if you cook off some of the water in the vegetables first.

Many recipes for chickpea pancakes do not call for an egg. I find that it makes the cakes fluffy and adds flavor. If you do not want to add egg, simply make sure to let your water/flour mixture sit for about 15mins to thicken.

Add veggies to batter. In a hot, well-oiled skillet, add small dollop of batter. The batter will be somewhat thin, so make sure to not pour in too much. Cook for about 2-3 mins on each side.  (makes about 5-6 small pancakes)

This was my first time making these pancakes and they were so delicious I didn’t miss the sugar! I have a stack of them in the fridge for a quick snack or lunch. Here’s to losing the next 15lbs. I’ll be fitting into my old skinny jeans in no time.

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Summer Kale Salad

I’m starting to think I should just convert this blog to “salads only,” since I seem to only write about salads.

Sorry, guys.

As was previously mentioned, my tiny, third floor apartment overheats in the summer, so I’m keeping the oven off as much as possible. Plus, I’ve been going kind of nuts at the Farmer’s Market.

 My husband, Chris, flew off to Italy yesterday and he’s traipsing around Rome right now, as we speak, taking in the breathtaking sights in that ancient city. He’s there for a conference, but I can’t afford to join him and turn it into a vacation. So, I’m by lonesome for the next three weeks. I’m envious and a little sad, however three weeks to myself sounds kind of nice.

 

Me and my darling husband diverge on matters of taste, health and nutrition. He’s all about hotdogs, hamburgers, pizza and simple carbs in general, and I’m all quinoa, tofu, kombucha and complex carbs. One time, I tried to make him taste my favorite breakfast, warm Grape-nuts cereal with a faint drizzle of honey, and do you know what he said? He said, “It tastes like wood pulp.”

Then he went and ate a pizza.

 Meanwhile, I recently dropped 15lbs by eating low-carb vegetarian meals, cutting down on eating bread and upping my exercise routine. I’m hoping to drop some more while he’s away. In fact, this morning, the first morning as a lone girl in the city, I had a salad for breakfast. FOR BREAKFAST. It was amazing. You’ll find the recipe below, but here’s the gist: I took some kale, steamed it, chilled it and then took a grapefruit, cut it up, added blueberries and smoked almonds and made a simple dressing. Wow. I could feel the vitamins working their magic after the first bite.

Simple Summer Kale Salad

1 head of kale

1 grapefruit

½ cup fresh blueberries

¼ cup smoked almonds

 Dressing:

Juice of 1 lemon

1-2 Tblsp olive oil

pinch salt and pepper

 Soak the kale in a tub of cold water for 20-30mins. This will loosen any grit stuck in the curly leaves. Rinse. Remove the thick stem in the middle of each kale leaf and chop the kale roughly. Steam in a large pot, on medium heat until just tender, about 3-5mins. Put the kale in the refrigerator until chilled. Cut the grapefruit into sections and combine with remaining ingredients. Toss with dressing and enjoy.

 

 

I love fresh salads, not only are they nutritious but it’s much easier to throw together a salad than to deal with prepping and cooking times.

It’s going to be a lazy summer around here. I’m okay with that. 

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Creamy Chickpea Salad

I have a confession to make. For nearly four years I was vegan. Yes, you heard me right, I just  dropped the “V-bomb”. During my early twenties I was one of those obnoxious, militant vegetarians who shunned not only flesh, but any and all animal products. I shook my fist at dairy of all sorts. Goodbye Brie, so long Swiss, see ya later Cheddar. I referred to eggs as “liquid chicken.” I stopped making my all time favorite breakfast of coffee and eggs over-easy and in exchange guzzled wheatgrass juice and algae smoothies and fists full of sprouts. I consumed my body weight many times over in tofu  and became all too familiar with the world of meat analogues (and if you ever need advice on meat analogues, I got some).

There are plenty of jokes and angry rants about the fascist-vegan-birkenstock-wearing-crunchy-granola-hippy stereotypes of herbivores.  I can understand where some of it comes from having been one myself.  There were times when I was overwrought with grief and confusion as to why anyone would slaughter another life simply to indulge their hedonistic whims that I acted out in embarrassing ways. For example,  I once smooshed a Reese’s peanut butter cup in my roommate’s hand out of sheer anger and frustration  (sorry, Lani). It was very rude.

Of course, times have changed and I realized that my life was on a completely different track when I caught myself on a Chicago rooftop bar scarfing a grilled bratwurst slathered in kraut. Veganism can be a tough sell in a culture of meat consumption. All of the dinners I was invited to that I couldn’t partake in, all of the baked goods brought to work that I couldn’t sample made for a very sad vegan indeed. Without a solid community of other vegans, I fell back into meat eating big time.

My former-vegan self still occasionally haunts me and one thing I learned from all those years of algae smoothies is this:  it just feels better to eat veggies.  I feel sluggish and lethargic after a heavy meat or dairy laden meal. I never, ever feel that way after, say, a carrot or an apple.  So I listen to my body and I give it those veggies and only on occasion do I let the little meat demon who sits on my shoulder have his way (and yes, he is made out of meat).

Creamy Vegan Chickpea Salad

14 oz chickpeas

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

2-3tbsp tahini

1 red pepper, chopped

1/4 cup chopped red onion

The juice of 1 lemon

1/2 bunch of parsley, minced

Salt and Pepper to taste

 Mix the ingredients in the bowl and voila!

This salad is a vegan’s dream, it’s rich in protein from the chickpeas, high in vitamin C from the peppers, beta carotene from the carrots, calcium from the tahini and it tastes awesome. The tahini in this recipe gives the salad the creaminess of mayo with no cholesterol. In fact, if you’re looking for an amazing plant food that mimics the creaminess of milk products, nuts and seeds are your best bet. They are fatty and silky and have that unmistakeably full bodied texture.  I’ve suffered from lactose intolerance since early adolescence and I can tell you first hand how tough it can be to go without cheese, mayo, milk or cream. I always keep tahini on hand when I want a robust, fatty flavor.

If you go to a barbecue this summer and/or  you meet a sad vegan, bring along a bowl of chickpea salad. They will probably give you a hug.