Monday, February 28, 2011

Vegetable Enchiladas



I've made vegetable enchiladas before, but the ones I made this past weekend were the best!

The canned enchilada sauce - in this case, La Victoria (mild) brand - makes a world of difference in terms of taste. I've made enchilada sauce from scratch in the past, with so-so results. Having tasted the canned version, I really don't have a desire to go back to homemade.

The recipe for these vegetable enchiladas comes from Sunset Magazine. I began subscribing to Sunset last year primarily for its landscaping design articles. But, Sunset also has some good vegetarian recipe write-ups.

I did modify Sunset's recipe to make what was already a fairly healthy version of vegetable enchiladas even more healthy. Specifically, I substituted canned refried beans with this semi-homemade version I found online at Pinchmysalt.com. The semi-homemade version is essentially the same recipe found on cans of pinto beans purchased at Latin markets and contains way less sodium than that found in canned refried beans. In addition, I replaced the corn tortillas with whole wheat tortillas.

This dish is really simple to make. As you can see from the photo above, I served the enchiladas with a simple side salad and saffron rice. I highly, highly recommended you try this recipe!

Vegetable Enchiladas (from Sunset Magazine)
(9x13-inch Baking Dish Version)
Serves 6-8
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 ounce bag of spinach leaves
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 15-ounce can refried beans (or make own using semi-homemade version above)
  • 1 15-ounce can low-sodium black beans, drained
  • 10 corn (or whole wheat) tortillas, quartered
  • 19 ounces (approximately) canned enchilada sauce (I used two 10-ounce cans of La Victoria)
  • 1 cup (I used about 1 1/2 cups) Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • green onions, sliced, for garnishing
  • Vegetable oil
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat approximately 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until they become translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and continue cooking and stirring until they start to wilt. Add the corn and continue cooking until heated through. Set this spinach-corn mixture aside.

Spread one-third of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and top with one-third of the tortillas. Layer with the refried beans, the black beans and half of the remaining enchilada sauce. Top with one-third of the cheese.

Next, layer with half of the remaining tortillas, all of the spinach-corn mixture and half of the remaining cheese. Top with the remaining tortillas, the remaining enchilada sauce and the remaining cheese.

Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, until the sauce starts bubbling and the cheese has melted. Garnish with the green onions before serving.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Salt-free Vegan Vegetable Bouillon Cubes - Free Shipping!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would probably have to find a better deal online, rather than Amazon.com, because I couldn't find a free-shipping option for the salt-free vegan vegetable bouillon cubes. Perhaps I missed it, but I just came across this on Amazon.com this evening:

http://www.amazon.com/Rapunzel-Pure-Vegetable-Bouillon-2-4-Ounce/dp/B001E5DZJS/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=grocery&qid=1298694519&sr=8-6

Time for me to stock up!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pasta Al Pesto (with Gardein Chick'n Filets)



No chicken was used in this dish. Seriously.

Earlier this year, I saw Gardein (garden + protein) chick'n filets at my local natural foods grocery store and decided to try them out. I was fully expecting to dislike them, but they actually taste quite good. Even though I have not had any chicken since turning veg in 2007, I can say that these filets do not really taste like chicken; rather, they taste like a more flavorful seitan. The texture of the filets is also similar to seitan, which is not surprising given that both contain wheat gluten.

This pasta al pesto (approximately two servings), is really simple to make, especially if you use pre-made basil pesto from your grocery store.

Cook approximately 12 ounces of pasta (really, any kind will do) in a large pot of boiling water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat approximately one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Dredge the Gardein filets (from one package containing 4 filets) in some flour and cook in the skillet, approximately 4 minutes per side. Remove the filets from the skillet and cut them into bite-size strips.

Add the pre-made basil (7 ounce container) to the skillet and heat through. Add the chick'n strips. Reduce heat enough to keep the pesto and chick'n strips warm while the pasta is still cooking. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet, toss, and serve.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vegetarianism all the rage in MMA, from Yahoo! Sports

Arnold Amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Competition
Arnold Amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Competition, from flickr member fightlaunch

Article profiles the vegan/vegetarian diets of Mixed Martial Arts fighters Jon Fitch, Jake Shields, Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, and Mac Danzig.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Amazing Raw Food in Washington, DC

a raw-food pizza..
"a raw-food pizza" by flickr member francistoms

I hesitate to post this, because it might make it harder for me to book a reservation for next month!

Last Friday night, my partner and I, and five others, went to a "restaurant" that served only raw food. The word "restaurant" is being used here in quotes, because it is my understanding that the chef, Elizabeth Petty of Elizabeth's Gone Raw, rents out the space, a rowhouse on L Street, NW, a few times every month to host these special events. The dining room seats about 75 people.

As a lead-up to Valentine's Day, every course served on Friday contained raw cacao as an ingredient. I regret not having taken any photos of each dish with my iphone, but the full menu description from that evening can be found here. The dishes were served in the following order: 1) rosemary pear soup with chocolate creme fraiche; 2) spinach salad with fennel; 3) chocolate hemp cracker; 4) chocolate coffee sorbet; 5) chocolate coconut spring roll on spicy kelp noodles (blew me away!); and 6) cacao cake with lavender (again, blew me away!). While we were waiting to be seated, we got to munch on "cheesy" (from nutritional yeast, I assume) kale chips, while drinking a glass of bubbly.

In a nutshell, it was the best vegan dining I have ever experienced. By evening's end, I was full, but not stuffed. And no, I was not eating cold food. Almost every course was served at, or close to, room temperature. More information about upcoming events, hosted by Ms. Petty, can be found here.

Personally, I would like to incorporate some raw food as part of my own diet. I do have a raw foods cookbook, but I have avoided trying any recipes from it because of the extensive preparation required and, let's be frank, the significantly higher costs associated with purchasing fresh vegetables. (There's just something wrong when you find yourself paying $2.99 per pound for red or green bell peppers, yet, thanks to generous federal subsidies, you would only be paying $1.79 per pound for corn-fed pork chops. And do not even get me started on the poor-people-are-overweight-because-they-lack-any-sense-of-personal-responsibility stance you often hear from some our political representatives.)

A final word in this post on the subject of my own diet: I am down exactly 10 pounds since the start of the new year, thanks to portion control and exercise (spinning and tennis). Woo hoo! Recently, I received the book, The Carb Lovers Diet. I purchased it, because, well, I LOVE pasta. I'm still going through the book and am looking forward to sharing any interesting information from it that I come across.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Salt-Free Vegan Vegetable Bouillon Cubes



Early last year, I came across these vegan vegetable bouillon cubes by Rapunzel, with no salt added, at a natural foods grocery store called Jandi's in Oceanside, New York. Jandi's, by the way, is awesome. It even has a vegetarian deli!

Nowadays, I rarely purchase cartons of vegetable broth. Even those cartons of low or reduced sodium vegetable broth still contain, in my opinion, too much sodium. These eight vegan cubes per package make approximately 16 cups of broth. These are especially great to have when you're making soups that call for 6 or 8 cups of vegetable broth. Rather than having to open two cartons of veggie broth, I just toss 3 or 4 cubes directly in the cooking pot, along with 6 or 8 cups of water, and stir until the cubes dissolve.

They're very flavorful. I had been ordering these from Amazon.com and getting free shipping. The Amazon.com reviews for this product are generally positive. Unfortunately, I don't see the free shipping option anymore on that website, so I may have to see if Whole Foods has them in stock or find a better online deal.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Black Bean Soup



A few weeks ago, I had the vegetarian black bean soup at the Au Bon Pain near where I work.

I found a similarly good recipe for vegan black bean soup posted by YCHRISTINE at allrecipes.com. I followed the recipe exactly as written.

Thumbs up!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Kale Lasagna Diavolo



Wow! Happy New Year! It's been a loooong time since I last posted anything on this blog. The lack of posts (since July) was the result of a couple of things: 1) things got really busy at my day job (labor lawyer) so I found myself eating much of the same ol' same ol' (honestly, I'm tired of penne alla vodka) for the last six months ; 2) some blogger burnout (I've got nothing but respect and admiration for y'all who post daily or close to that!) and 3) home renovation projects that suddenly had to get done and paid for (rain water seeping into the basement as result of a concrete patio tilting toward the house is probably not a good thing).

In the meantime, I had gained a ton of weight (actually 15-17 lbs) because of stress caused by nos. 1 and 3 above. This year, though, I started a low calorie diet and have, since, lost 6 plus pounds. I'm not doing anything trendy to lose weight. I'm not depriving myself of any particular food desires. But, by habitually watching what I eat and controlling my portion sizes, I've gotten accustomed to feeling full and satisfied after each meal.

Thus, I was full after having just 1 1/2 servings of this relatively low-calorie, low-cost kale lasagna, the recipe for which came from the January/February s issue of Vegetarian Times. This past weekend, I made this lasagna a second time and froze individual portions for the weekday. It's cheaper than buying Amy's frozen lasagnas. It's simple to make and delicious. I did make more sauce than called for in the original recipe this past weekend. I also added some dried Italian seasoning, because I did find the sauce somewhat plain-ish the first time around. These changes are reflected in my listing of the ingredients below.

Kale Lasagna Diavolo
Serves 6-8

  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 8oz bunch kale, stems removed
  • 1 15 oz package fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 4 oz chevre or goat cheese.
  • 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (original recipe calls for 2 cloves)
  • 1 28 oz can tomato puree (original recipe calls for 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes(original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp)
  • 9 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained (Depending on their size and the size of your baking pan, you may need more or less noodles for this 3-layer lasagna. Original recipe calls for 6 lasagna noodles to be layered in an 8 x 8-inch baking pan.)
  • 1/4 cup or so grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning or 1/2 tsp dried oregano and 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square pan or (in my case) a 7 x 11-inch baking dish with oil. Cook kale in a large pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. (To save time, you could remove the leaves using tongs and cook the noodles in this water.) Using your hands, wring out the water, chop the leaves, and them aside.

Using a fork, thoroughly mash the ricotta and chevre together in a bowl and set it aside. Heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato puree, the Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper, to taste, and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Spread 1/4 cup of the sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Place 1/3 of the cooked lasagna noodles on top of the sauce. Top with half of the cheese mixture, half of the kale, and 1/3 of the remaining sauce.

Add another layer of noodles and repeat with the remainder of the cheese and kale, and 1/2 of the remaining sauce. Add the third layer of noodles and cover with the remainder of the sauce. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese and bake uncovered in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has melted.