Thursday, November 28, 2013

Stack Salad: Spinach Chickpea with Pumpkin Cream

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope you are all having a happy day with people that you love, and I hope you're not getting too hard of a time for not touching the turkey.  This is my 5th vegan Thanksgiving, and my dad still likes to give me a hard time.  It doesn't stop him from tearing into the Earth Balance.

Thanksgiving is a time that a lot of people over eat, but this year I wanted to really focus on healthy.  So often, I've had the attitude that "oh, I'll eat healthy after the holidays."  Not this year!  I knew I had to prep my body with tons of veggies and vitamins, and my mom has a huge healthy dinner planned.  Mama V has quit smoking and is doing T25 workouts every day.  She's a rock star, and she loves cooking vegan for me.  This year, she has crafted a stuffed tofu dish, but more on that another day.

Work was bananas this week, as in working all day and late into the night, so I knew I needed healthy food to combat all the stress.  Knowing we would be traveling, I took all the veggies in the fridge and made a few batches of juice.  The first one was carrots, apples, and lemon.  Yum.  This juice will wake you up in the morning.  The second batch I made was all of the green veggies in the house, plus more lemons and ginger.  Monday and Wednesday I drank juice all morning, and Tuesday I supplemented it with a tempeh wrap.

All week, I ate the same thing every day, but it was easy and ready for me when I needed a break.  Lunches were the highlight.  On Sunday, I made up a few stack salads for the week.  The base was chickpeas, hearts of palm and some potato string fries we had left over.  There were tons of spinach and green onions crammed in there too.  For a salad I didn't really plan, this turned out great.

The highlight of this salad was the "dressing."  I used the pumpkin cashew cream that I made the other night for the gnocchi.  Oh wow.  The bulk of the sauce was vegetable stock, so I'm going to decree it was pretty healthy.  It was definitely yummy.  

Snacks all week, as usual, were almonds.  The news organizations are all a buzz about how eating a small handful of nuts will curb your appetite.  I don't usually listen to the latest "this food will make you healthy" blah blah, but nuts are great for you.  Case closed.

For dinners every night, I just warmed up my creamy gnocchi.  It was satisfying and perfect to combat stress.  Yum.

A highlight to my day was a shout out from Lululemon of Little Rock.  The shared my blog this morning as part of their #nohumbug challenge.  It really made my day.

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday, and I'll be back in a few days to report on Mama V's Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Warm and Creamy Gnocchi Delight

Oh gnocchi, how I love you.  Mama V has been known to make an amazing gnocchi, and she taught me how back in the day.  It's a wonderful comfort dish to partial Italians such as us.  So, when I saw this dish on Keepin it Kind, I was incredibly inspired.  I knew I wanted to make a version of this dish, and I wanted it to be something that Josh would like too.  He's not a huge fan of tofu, so I changed the sauce to a pumpkin cashew cream.

I started off by making a batch of gnocchi on Sunday afternoon.  I used this recipe, but gnocchi is pretty simple.  You just have to get in there and play with it!  I love a dish when you can get your hands dirty.  I haven't made gnocchi in a few years, and I forgot how much fun it is.  Get in the kitchen and make some!

Pumpkin Cashew Cream


1/2 can pumpkin puree
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 tbs paprika
1 tbs pumpkin pie spice
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Add cashews and pumpkin to a high powered blender.  Add in vegetable stock slowly until you get a pour-able consistency.
  2. Add spices and blend again.
  3. Taste and modify!

For the Casserole

3 cups prepared gnocchi
1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cubed small
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dried thyme
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
3 cups kale
1 red onion, chopped small
pumpkin sauce from above

  1. Toss gnocchi and butternut squash cubes in a large bowl with 1 tbs olive oil and thyme.
  2. Roast in the oven at 400 dF for 25 minutes, or until the squash is soft.
  3. Make cashew cream, fill bottom of baking dish.
  4. Saute 1 tbs olive oil, pressed garlic, onions and kale in a pan until onions are cooked and kale is wilted.  Add kale to pan.
  5. Remove gnocchi and squash from the oven.  Place over the kale.
  6. Pour on cashew cream, put back in oven.
  7. Bake for another 15 minutes.
  8. Serve!

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Weekend of Sandwiches

I'm not usually a big sandwich eater, but somehow this weekend, I had one every day.  I won't recap every meal, but there were definitely some highlights.  I had to work all weekend, but I took a few breaks to keep my sanity and cook up a few things for the week.

We had a backpacking trip planned for this weekend, so Josh took Friday off.  Unfortunately, we both had too much work to do, I am still battling a lot of pain, and the weather was cold and rainy, so we didn't go.  We did decide to take a break and spend the afternoon together.  We headed to The Fold for lunch, because Josh had never been, and I wanted to try the new extended menu.  See my whole write up here.

That was sandwich #1.  It was really yummy.  We spent the afternoon running errands around town, and we went home to play a new video game together.  It was a really nice break.  Late Friday night, we crawled out of our offices in search of food, so I made up some sandwiches!

I made up a baked tofu grilled daiya sandwich with some oven baked potatoes.  I definitely don't have this recipe worked out yet, so I'll keep it to myself.  The sandwich was amazing.

Saturday morning, I woke up and did some baking before settling into an afternoon of working.  I realized that our bananas had gone to the perfect squishy-and-ready-for-banana-bread.  So, that's what I made.  I used Neverhomemaker's Banumpkin Bread.  This is my go-to recipe, and it's always great!

This month's Vegetarian Times featured Old Fashioned Lemon Bars, and they looked so good.  I really wanted to make them, but they have eggs.  So, I thought this might be a great time to try my sample of The Vegg.  They were great enough to send me a sample and a cookbook, and I haven't had a chance to use it yet.  So, I put it in place of the eggs.  When I blended it, it smelled just like egg yolk.  I can't wait to use it in scramble!

Unfortunately for the bars, I used a pan larger than they called for, so everything got a little thinned out.  These are very rich, and I'm sure they would have been fluffier with eggs, but it was still good.  I will keep tweaking it.

I spent the rest of the day working, stopping around 4:30 to eat a late lunch/early dinner.  I warmed up a Thanksgiving Themed Stack Salad and got back to my drawings.  That's pretty much how the weekend went.  Sunday morning I was up and eating more banana bread, then more drawing.  We decided to make some more sandwiches for lunch.  This time, it was roasted tempeh and daiya cheese and a salad.

Inspired by Keepin' it Kind's Butternut Squash, Kale and Gnocchi dish, I whipped up one of my own.  I'll give you a more specific recap later this week, but it turned out really yummy.

It was definitely a heavy starch filled weekend, and I'm feeling the repercussions of it today.  All this heavy food was probably a reaction to all the stress I'm under, so I'm going to try to keep it lighter for the rest of the week, at least until Thanksgiving.

What are you cooking for the holidays?  Do you try to prepare by eating light the days before?

ps.  Bodhi and I had a little fall photo shoot friday.  Check out the photos on Scribbly Brain.

Extended Menu at The Fold

On Friday afternoon, Josh was off work, so we headed to The Fold so he could try it.  I've already done a restaurant review here, but they have a new extended menu that I wanted to try.

When I went here back in the summer, the waitress informed me that one of the salsas had meat in it, so that was the first thing I asked this visit.  I was assured that the salsas were vegan, and the waitress asked if I was, then made sure to mark on the menu that one of the diners was vegan.  She was so nice and easy going about the whole thing, and it really made me happy.

We munched on their chips and salsa and had a cocktail while we looked over their extended menu.  They have added quite a few new vegetarian items, which I was very happy to read.  I've been seeing pictures of the avocado torta on The Fold's Facebok page, so I knew that's what I wanted.  Both of the salsas were really good, but Josh and I were both in agreement that we wished the chips were warm with less seasoning.  It was cold outside, and a nice hot chip would have been perfect!

My torta came to the table, and I got really excited!  There was a beautiful mango slaw on top, and the avocado was lightly fried.  This sandwich non-vegan comes with a cheese sauce, so the vegan version was a little dry.  I fixed that right away by smothering it with hot sauce.  Problem solved.

Good to the last bite!  I am looking forward to coming back and trying the other veggie items on their new extended menu.  Their sides are pretty veg-friendly too, for the most part, and everything is always fresh and delicious.

The Fold is located at 3501 Old Cantrell Hill Road, Little Rock.  They are opened Tuesday through Sunday. The Fold on Urbanspoon