Friday, February 26, 2016

Louisiana Hot Hummus

Since moving to Pittsburgh, I've been quite lazy about making my own hummus. I live a 3 minute walk (downhill) from Greek Gourmet, which is reputed to have the best hummus in Pittsburgh. Spoiler alert: they do in fact have the best hummus! My favorites are their Garlic, Sweet Potato, and Honey Habanero hummuses, which are all so good that I could practically drink them. Unfortunately, some weeks I just can't get there before they close at 7pm so I have to fall back on my own hummus making skills. I've found that I prefer savory white bean hummuses when I make my own (again, inspired by Greek Gourmet's amazing Smoked White Bean hummus) because I can get a creamier texture without adding a ton of oil. Plus, like chickpeas, white beans are a complete protein, and deliver good doses of vitamins B, C, E, K, and calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Wow! This week, instead of just trying to replicate Greek Gourmet's smoked hummus flavor, I decided to kick it up a notch. Through most of grad school, I was obsessed with Sriracha as my hot sauce of choice, but being back in Pittsburgh reminded me of my old favorite, Louisiana hot sauce. The vinegary taste of this hot sauce takes this hummus up to the next level, making it good enough to get me through until my next run to Greek Gourmet!

Louisiana Hot Hummus

1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
3T Louisiana hot sauce
1T liquid smoke
1T smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic
1t apple cider vinegar
1t powdered onion
sea salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor. Process until smooth, then enjoy with veggies, pitas, or on a sandwich!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffins

Bananas... the original super food of endurance athletes. Renowned for their potassium and easily digestible sugars, bananas are also packed with C and B vitamins and micronutrients. Unfortunately for me, even after repeated attempts to make myself like them, I've never been a huge fan of bananas. With my quest for recipes with that minimize added sugar, I decided that I should give bananas one more go. Last week, bananas were on sale for $0.29/ lb at our local grocery store so I committed to experimentation by purchasing two pounds. I've become pretty good at using applesauce in my recipes (like my chocolate peanut butter muffins last week) so I decided that I'd take it slow and try for a chocolate banana muffin, substituting banana puree for applesauce. The result was these muffins, which are like a new and improved banana bread. Adding cocoa powder, which is rich in flavanols, can improve circulatory function and enhance recovery. I did add sugar to these, but I think if you are really against it, you can substitute the banana for apple sauce in last week's make a really portable and balanced breakfast treat. Alternatively, these are decadent enough that you can go the other direction, whip up some icing, and make these into full-fledged cupcakes. Enjoy!

Chocolate Banana Walnut Muffins

2c flour
3/4c sugar
1/2c unsweetened cocoa powder
1t baking soda
2t baking powder
1c crushed walnuts
1 flax egg (1T ground flax seed plus 2T water)
2 ripe bananas
1c almond milk
3/4c water
1T apple cider vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375F.
2. Mix flax egg and set aside.
3. Mix dry ingredients, then add crushed walnuts.
4. Add bananas and almond milk to a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. (I hate the texture of bananas, so this helps eliminate banana chunks in the muffins.)
5. Add flax egg, banana & almond milk, and water.
6. Stir in apple cider vinegar.
7. Add ~1/3c batter of greased muffin tins.
8. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Yield: 18 muffins

Chocolate Cranberry Walnut option:
Substitute 1/2c applesauce for the banana and add 1c dried cranberries when you add the walnuts. My husband loves these!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Carrot Dogs

Everyone knows that store bought vegetarian "hot dogs" are disgusting. And this is coming from a girl who growing up thought that Boca burgers were awesome! After becoming a vegetarian, I learned that home made black bean burgers far exceed the store bought stuff, but basically just ignored the rubbery, tasteless store bought hot dogs when it came time for a summer barbecue. Some time ago, I heard that carrots could be marinated and turned into vegetarian hot dogs. At first, I ignored the concept, since typically the hot dog provides protein and carrots don't provide all that much. However, recently I found myself craving a hot dog and the carrot dog came to mind. In this new frame of mind, I thought, why not? I love carrots and I can always pair a carrot dog with a side that carries protein (like this potato salad with chickpeas) to enjoy a balanced, delicious summer-style meal. The carrot dog verdict? Delicious and surprisingly satisfying! If you think about it, beyond the general saltiness, hot dogs aren't really all that flavorful, so typically the ketchup, onions, and mustard carry the taste anyways. So give this easy carrot dog a try. It's like the cauli-rice for carb lovers!

Why is the grocery store always out of whole wheat hot dog buns?
Carrot Dogs

1 large carrot cut to a hot dog-sized piece
1T Vegemite (or beef-like bullion)
2T soy sauce
1T liquid smoke
3 cloves garlic
1 onion diced
1T black pepper
1T paprika
sea salt to taste
Enough water to cover the carrot in your microwave safe dish
buns or bread for serving

Cut ends of the carrot off to size to your bun. Add pieces and carrots to microwave-safe dish. Cover with water and microwave until your carrots are tender. This will be 5-8 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave. Remove from marinade, place in bun, top with your favorite hot dog toppings and prepare to be amazed!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Flatbread Pizza

Friday night is pizza night! The tradition seems to go back in my family to the days when Catholics weren't supposed to eat meat on Fridays and the vegetarian choices were limited. For me, Friday night pizza brings back memories of eating dinner in front of the TV with my family watching TGIF. My parents were sticklers for family dinners at the table, so watching TV while eating dinner was a real treat. Those were the days! While we do have a number of good pizza joints around us (Pittsburgh is a college town, after all!) I prefer to make my own pizzas. More goodness, less waiting, and no mark up or delivery fees! While my husband likes his pizza the traditional way (thick crust & lots of cheese), these days I have been very into my flatbread pizzas, which I make with a thin crust and top with Italian-y hummus plus whatever vegetables we have in the fridge. Tomatoes are a must, but onions, red peppers, spinach, artichoke, mushrooms, and olives all make regular and tasty appearances. With my preference for a thin crust a quick and easy baking powder crust works just fine for me, but my husband prefers a fluffy yeast crust. I include the recipes for both below, so pick your poison! If you're patient or have foresight and a bread maker, go with the yeast crust but otherwise the easy baking powder recipe will do just fine. This week, branch out to try a vegan pizza... you won't regret it! (If the idea of hummus a pizza sauce is just a bit too much for you to wrap your head around, there's always my Pesto Pizza too.)

Breadmaker Pizza Crust (2 crusts)

1 1/2c warm water
1/2T salt
1T olive oil
3 3/4c flour
2t rapid rise yeast
2T sugar

Place ingredients in the breadmaker in that order. Create a "volcano hole" in the top of the flour pile and fill it with the yeast followed by the sugar to be sure that the yeast doesn't touch the salt or water too early. Run the dough cycle (~1.5hrs). Once completed roll out the dough.

Simple Thin Crust (1 crust)

2/3c whole wheat flour
dash salt (optional)
1t baking powder
1/4c warm water

Combine dry ingredients, then add warm water and olive oil. When the dough just starts to stick together, roll it out into your crust.

Tomato-basil hummus

1 can chickpeas
Juice of one can of tomatoes (retain the tomatoes for your topping)
1/4c nutritional yeast
garlic, basil, oregano (to taste)

Food process all ingredients until smooth.

Put it together: Spoon and spread tomato-basil hummus onto crust. Top with tomatoes, onions, peppers, spinach-- any vegetables that you have in your fridge! Sprinkle with additional nutritional yeast and Italian spices. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, or until the edges of the crust start to brown. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cheesy Mushroom Soup

While thinking about making food for the Superbowl this year, I became obsessed with the idea of vegan nacho cheese made from carrots. Sadly, this could not come to fruition because I didn't have potatoes on the day of the game. Fortunately, a couple days after the game, my husband came through with some potatoes for me so I gave it a go. And Oh. My. Goodness! It's not nacho cheese, but it is really, really good. Rather than dipping, I found myself going at the dip with a spoon. In a moment of genius (as I was trying to restrain myself between bites), I realized that I had mushrooms in the fridge. The one and only food I miss as a vegetarian is a delicious beef burger topped with with mushrooms and swiss cheese. (Yes... red meat and cheese, definitely the healthiest omnivore food, I know!) This taste is hard to recreate, but I knew that by pairing this delicious cheesy liquid with mushrooms, I had a chance. I sautéed up the mushrooms with some onions, garlic, and black pepper and mixed it in with my cheese sauce. So freaking good! Only one bowl made it to a bowl on my first trial of the recipe... I'll be making this creamy, cheesy, mushroomy goodness again soon!

Not a looker, but man this soup is good!
Cheesy Mushroom Soup

6 large carrots
4 potatoes
2 onions
Garlic, paprika, and salt to taste
2 cubes vegetable bullion
1/4c apple cider vinegar
1/2c nutritional yeast
2 packages (8oz) mushrooms
2 more onions
more garlic & black pepper to taste

1. Peel & cube potatoes. Slice carrots and onions.
2. In a large microwave safe bowl,  add 6c water, carrots, potatoes, and onions. Microwave on high until vegetables are tender. (~10 minutes depending on microwave)
3. Meanwhile, wash and slice mushrooms and additional onions.
4. In a large soup pot, sautee mushrooms and onions with garlic & black pepper, until tender. I use water to prevent sticking.
5. When your microwave bowl is done, transfer the water and vegetables to food processor/ blender. (Do it in batches or use an immersion blender.) Add bullion, garlic, paprika, and salt. Process until smooth.
6. Add contents of blender to your mushrooms and onions in the soup pot. Stir in apple cider vinegar and nutritional yeast.
7. Add water to thin (if you desire) and enjoy!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Muffins

Happy Galentine's Day! Well, technically, I think that the day before Valentine's day is Galentine's day but I'm late, as I am with every holiday these days. Today, I'm going to share a quick, easy, and surprisingly delicious recipe with you. Chocolate peanut butter muffins! I don't know what's wrong with me, but for the past few months I've been really, really wanting chocolate in the afternoon. And it's killing me because chocolate is for after dinner! Also, anyone who knows me knows my deep love of peanut butter. Seriously! When I had to drop weight for crew in college, I would just stop eating peanut butter for a few weeks. These days, I subject myself to no such torture. I will confess that I have 8 different types of nut butters open and in circulation in my kitchen right now. My new favorite these days is PB Trimmed Powdered Peanut Butter. Powdered peanut butters are great! They have creamy peanut taste, but all the oil removed, so that you can eat 4x as much peanut butter. (See how I suggested that you can just eat more rather than cut calories with it? Ha! This is the way I do nut butter...) Plus, while TSA confiscates peanut butter, you can take the powdered stuff on airplanes with you. This is a real bonus for a traveling vegetarian who wants to ensure quality protein is accessible... airport food is questionable, and even more so when you don't eat meat!

Anyways, these breakfast cupcakes are a real treat. I used a sweetened chocolate protein powder, so besides the apple sauce, no additional sugar is needed! I chose to top these with honey flavored PB Trimmed, but any nut butter that tickles your fancy will be awesome. With PB Trimmed, each muffin delivers 135 calories, 3g fat, and 12g protein. Yum!

Mmm... chocolate peanut butter muffins! And what's that in the background? Oh, just my Super Simple Peanut Butter Cookies

Chocolate Protein Muffins

1/2c whole wheat flour
1/2c chocolate protein powder (sweetened)
1/4c cocoa powder
1t baking powder
1/2t baking soda
1T flax egg (1T flax seed meal soaked in 2T water)
1/4c apple sauce
1c almond milk
For Topping: 1/2c peanut butter or PB Trimmed

1. Preaheat oven to 375F.
2. Mix flax egg and set aside.
3. Mix dry ingredients, then add wet.
4. Add batter to greased muffin tins. Top each with 1T peanut butter.
5. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!

Yield: 6 muffins (Yes, there are only 5 in the picture. I had to taste test to be sure they were worth writing about!)