Archive | March, 2012

Recipe: Vegan Bourbon BBQ “Pork” ‘n’ Beans & Cornbread

29 Mar

When the weather gets warm, one thing that I always crave is BBQ. Sadly, I wasn’t brought up in a place where BBQ reigns supreme, so I don’t really know the difference between Texas, Carolina, Low Country, etc. All I know is that if it’s smoked and covered in sauce, bring it on. With my foray into weekday veganism, you might think that BBQ is a flavor that I’d not be able to integrate into a Tuesday evening. Guess again!

If you’ve ever had seitan, you know that this faux meat product, made from wheat gluten and water, REALLY TASTES LIKE MEAT. Texturally, I wouldn’t take any bets on deciphering the difference between seitan and chicken. If you’ve ever had Whole Foods’ Vegan General Tso’s Chicken, you know what I’m talking about.

With some pantry staples, and a few extras (like the vegan God-send — Liquid Smoke) I created my Bourbon BBQ “Pork” ‘n’ Beans. The measurements are a little bit off because, when it comes down to it, it’s up to your taste buds how much smoke you want, how much Worcestershire you want, etc. I also used sucanat, which is the most natural of all sugars (dehydrated, evaporated pressed cane juice). After some research, I knew that agave nectar was OFF THE TABLE. Apparently, it is as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup. And unless you have diabetes and need to pay attention to your glycemic index, I would suggest staying away. Just say no to chemicals!

With an adventurous spirit, I decided to try millet (from my local organic market’s bulk section) to accompany my meal. Not a Smooth Move, Ferguson. The millet had a very strange taste. I think I will try it again, but cook in veggie broth instead of water.

Bourbon BBQ “Pork” ‘n’ Beans

  • 2 cans of tomato paste
  • 1 can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cans no-salt-added pinto beans
  • package of seitan strips, sliced (or make your own)
  • EVOO

And here are the ingredients to play with:

  • 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (conveniently left over from my bread baking)
  • 1.5 tbsp yellow mustard
  • 3 tbsp sucanat
  • 1/4 cup of Jim Bean bourbon
  • 1.5 tbsp Liquid Smoke
  • 2 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce (note, this is not vegan because it contains anchovies — but it is pesco-vegan 🙂 )
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • pinch red pepper flakes

In a large saucepan, heat a couple of tbsp. of EVOO over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute until translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir and simmer. Add in all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

What better way to accompany my vegan BBQ than some warm cornbread. I found this recipe and made a few tweaks and it was INCREDIBLE. The ground flax seed takes the place of an egg, and I cannot WAIT to use that substitution in other recipes.

Yummy Vegan Cornbread (adapted from Dana Sly’s Blue Ribbon Cornbread)

  • 2 Tbsp. ground flax seed

    see all the yummy flax seeds floating around

  • 6 Tbsp. water
  • 1 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup of cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup of sucanat
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 cup of soy milk with 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar mixed in for 5 minutes
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (not extra virgin — taste might be too strong)

Bring water to a boil in small saucepan. Add flax seed and simmer for 2-3 minutes until thickened. Let cool for a couple of minutes while assembling other ingredients

In a large bowl mix together all of the remaining ingredients and add in the flax and water mixture. Pour into a lightly sprayed 9×9 baking dish. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean.

Hope you have fun with this meaty meal!

the happenstance gourmande


Recipe: Tasting the Fruits of My Labor (Roasted Veg Sandwich with Homemade Vegan “Mayo”)

26 Mar

This weekend, I decided to undertake the seemingly impossible task of baking bread. As I slowly started to reintroduce foods into my diet post-cleanse, I figured the best way to introduce a complex carb was to make my own bread. I woke up on Saturday morning, met my college advisor who happened to be in town with one of her classes, and toured the Royalists to Romantics exhibition at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Combining one of my favorite professors with one of my favorite artists (Élisabeth Vigée-LeBrun) was a beautiful way to start a bread-making Saturday.

After a few errands to Whole Foods and Bed, Bath and Beyond, to pick up the last essentials for my baking adventure, I was ready to begin. With my Spotify playlist plugged into my speakers, a bread recipe open on my computer screen, and my kitchen counters cleaned, I was all set. I decided to try the Multigrain Wholegrain Bread recipe from the Holy Cow Vegan blog.

After attempting to bloom yeast that was a non-starter, I had to run back out to the market to buy another package of yeast. FINALLY, it worked on my second try. Here is the recipe:

Vegan Multigrain Wholegrain Bread

Mix in a bowl:
4 tsp active dry yeast and 1/2 cup warm (not hot!) water. Set aside about 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to bloom.

Mix in another bowl:

  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 cup warm soymilk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 2 tbsp olive or canola oil

Add the soymilk mixture to the yeast. Then add:

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup vital wheat gluten flour

Mix by hand or in a stand mixer until combined. Add:

  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup rye flour

Knead for 10 minutes on low speed or by hand. Keep about 1/2 to 1 cup of whole-wheat flour on hand to add in case the dough is too sticky. You want a smooth, elastic dough that does not break easily.
Oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning it around once to ensure it is coated all over with oil.
Set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour. Punch down the dough and set aside and let rise again for another hour.
Here are pictures of the bread before and after rising.

Remove the dough from the bowl, punch it down, shape. If you’d like to make it in loaf pans, divide the dough into two halves, tuck the edges under for a smooth top, and place in oiled loaf pans coated with some cornmeal.

Bake in a preheated 450-degree oven for 10 minutes. Then turn down the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35 more minutes.

Remove the loaf to a rack and allow it to cool for at least 15 minutes before unmolding.

The bread came out looking gorgeous and I just couldn’t wait to dig in.

Now, I had the ends of my sandwich ready…but still needed to create the insides. Back when I was juice-fasting, I had the idea of creating a vegan mayonnaise, because what kind of sandwich would we have without that creamy glue holding it together? Here is my recipe:

Healthy Homemade Vegan “Mayonnaise”

  • 1 cup raw (unsalted, not roasted) cashews, soaked in 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1 package of silken tofu
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup of good extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

In a food processor, puree the cashews with 1/4 cup of the cashew water until smooth. Add the tofu and blend. Add the mustards and vinegar and blend together. While the processor is running, drizzle in the EVOO. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

The mayo is super creamy and really does taste like mayo. The good EVOO makes it taste rich and creamy. I promise you won’t miss the eggs!

I roasted off some veggies (sprayed them with EVOO and sprinkled salt and pepper and placed under the broiler).


Finally, it was time to assemble my sandwich. With the help of Gordy’s Pickle Jar’s Sweet Pepper Relish,  and Maille L’Ancienne grainy dijon mustard, I spread my mayo on my freshly cut bread and laid the veggies on top.

It is SUCH an amazing feeling to eat something that you made from scratch completely. It is so rewarding and completely worth the effort that I put in to dig into a sandwich and know exactly where every morsel came from.

That has got to be the epitome of clean eating. YUM.

Here are a couple pictures of my masterpiece!  

the happenstance gourmande

Love the smell of a good market this time of year

23 Mar

Yesterday was the opening of the FRESHFARM Market near my office in Penn Quarter. I LOVE this market. It happens on Thursdays, has everything you could want (most specifically, my crack fix for anything from Toigo Orchards), and is conveniently located just a few blocks from my office so I don’t even have to think. After a rough morning/afternoon at work yesterday, I decided to go for a walk to visit the market, especially because it was so lovely out. In addition to my usual favorites, including Toigo (whose Honeycrisp apples, pears, and PEACHES will make you slap your mama) and Red Apron Butchery (who was taunting me with Facebook pictures of mortadella and fennel and citrus salami while I was juice-fasting), there were some new treats, including Gordy’s Pickle Jar, which I just HAD to try. They were amazing.

I am a REAL SUCKER for anything local. I can’t resist. Here are some pictures of the wonderful market.

Gorgeous poppies and tulips.

This bread smelled even more amazing than it looks.

Can’t resist Toigo’s apples. I picked up some of the Mutsu and they were awesome. Super crisp, sweet with a little bit of tartness, and just perfect for a warm spring day.

And here’s my bounty! A purple/green head of cabbage (for my experimentation with “Corned Tofu and Cabbage”), sweet pepper relish from Gordy’s, Mutsu apples, the facebook-stalking fennel and citrus salami from Red Apron (for my omnivorous weekends), and some great looking little red beets.

I love supporting our area’s farmers. I mean, what better way to eat fresh, eat clean, and eat local than at a farmers market, right? I love transparency in all of my food — knowing from where my pig came and where it was smoked, when and from where my eggs were picked, and that those apples were plucked just yesterday is a great feeling.

the happenstance gourmande

Recipe: Kale & White Bean Stir-Fry with Moroccan Spiced Tofu

22 Mar

Toward the end of my juicing cleanse, the idea hit me to take the leftover kale (of which there was SO much) and make a stir-fry with cannellini beans. I pretty much love all beans and figured that on day 2 of post-cleanse eating, I’d be able to introduce some of my favorite legumes back to my belly. In addition to my reintroduction to the mighty bean, last night was my first meal of non-raw ingredients. It had been a looooong time since I’d had something cooked and boy was it nice.

In the spirit of frugality and clean eating, here is an awesome poster that I came across of American World War I propaganda. Looks like eating clean and buying local is nothing new. How did we get so off course…

Just by using up some of my random leftover ingredients (and the addition of a few new others), I created a recipe that I thought was amazing and I think you’ll agree. I used sprouted tofu instead of regular as it is easier to digest than regular tofu AND more nutritious. I strongly suggest giving it (and anything else sprouted — including my favorite sprouted wheat multigrain Alvarado Street bread) a try! Also, if you get a chance to visit the Spice and Tea Exchange in Georgetown, they have an amazing selection of spices and spice blends, including the Moroccan Spice blend that I used.

Kale & White Bean Stir-Fry with Moroccan Spiced Tofu

  • 8 oz. extra-firm organic sprouted tofu, pressed and dried and cut into cubes (make sure to use organic tofu because most non-organic tofu contains ICKY genetically modified soy)
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3-4 cups of kale, chopped or torn
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp. Moroccan Spice blend (or a blend of chili powder, turmeric, garlic, olive salt, cumin, black pepper, chili flakes, oregano, onion, coriander)
  • 1-2 tbsp. Braggs Amino Acids
  • EVOO
  • handful of raw cashews

Sprinkle both sides of tofu cubes with spice blend. Pour a bit of olive oil into a heated frying plan and place tofu cubes in a single layer.

Saute tofu for 3-4 minutes. Once tofu is browned on the bottom, flip each piece over and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Remove sautéed tofu from frying pan and place aside. In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook onion and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Turn to medium-low heat and add tomatoes to the wok. Stir and let cook for a minute. Add the kale to the wok.

Add in the Braggs Amino Acids. Stir the mixture as the kale releases its water and wilts. Add the white beans and stir until they become warm. Add the tofu to the wok and stir and let simmer for 2 minutes. Top each plated serving with a sprinkle of raw cashews for added texture. Done.

I promise that this tastes good…and it’s not out of desperation since I had previously been sans solids for 10 days. If I can keep cranking out recipes like these, being vegan for at least 5 days a week will be no problem at all.

I will leave you with the perfect bite.

the happenstance gourmande

Recipe: Digestation-Deluxe Detox Salad

21 Mar

Yesterday I thought I’d have to stick to fruits on day 1 post-fast. When I arrived home, I was feeling adventurous and decided to explore with vegs. Here is a recipe for a great raw salad that is easy to digest and tastes amazing. I just threw together some left over treats from my juicing, and voila!

One other fun fact I learned about our bodies is that, not only does chewing food really well help you to digest it because it is smaller, but also the longer you chew, the more saliva you produce, which has natural digestive enzymes. Not to mention, when you take 10 seconds to chew each bite, it gives your stomach and brain more time to speak to each other — helping you eat less! Oh the joys of eating slowly…

Digestation-Deluxe Detox Salad

  • 1 cup packed baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cucumber, diced (I left the skin on)
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 gala apple, diced
  • 1 roma tomato, diced
  • small avocado, sliced
  • handful of raw, unsalted cashews
  • half lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper to taste

Place spinach on a plate and sprinkle diced veggies and apple on top. Place avocado on top of the veggies and sprinkle with cashews. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the EVOO. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon (holding cut side up to catch the seeds). Eat.

the happenstance gourmande

Teaching my shrunken self to chew again

20 Mar

March 20th not only signifies the start of spring but also the restart of my digestive system after a 10-day hiatus. I was terrified last night that I would wake up in the middle of the night and have to decide if 2 a.m. was an acceptable time to rev up my gustatory machine. Luckily, I slept straight through the night. I didn’t wake up to the sound of my stomach grumbling…instead I woke up to the sound of rockets red glare and bombs bursting in air.

Actually it was the sound of a CRAZY morning thunderstorm.

Super pumped to finally munch on something, I rinsed off a bunch of green grapes, sat down with the Today Show and a cup of tea, and dug in. Oh man…they were SO delicious. No wonder some of my juices had been so sweet…these were the most perfect grapes I could imagine. I  didn’t devour them by the bunch-ful as I normally would, but instead slowly chewed each grape for awhile before swallowing. I felt great. Until I didn’t. About 10-12 minutes after eating 10 grapes, my stomach was grumbling and gurgling like crazy, and I felt slightly food poisoned. My grand fast-breaking plan included a fruit salad for breakfast and a nice veggie salad for lunch and maaaaybe some roasted veggies for din. Brrrt. Guess again.

an ultimate spring kick-off luncheon

Today is shaping up to be a juicy fruits only kind of day. Not that I’m complaining! Also, I feel fine now. I think my stomach’s little freak out this morning was like starting up a car that hasn’t been touched in awhile — it might rumble when you put the key in the ignition, but pretty soon it’s purring down the highway.

As a final tally, I think it’s important to note that I have lost a grand total of…(drum roll please)…

9.2 lbs. since the start of the cleanse

15.2 lbs. overall since starting vegan

21 in. since the start of the cleanse (that is a measure of overall inches, including forearms, thighs, calves, etc.)

As a reward to myself, I booked a TWO HOUR-long massage at Nusta Spa for Sunday. Something called the Journey of the Senses massage. Here’s a description from the website:

The ultimate in relaxation, this massage ritual includes an aromatherapy steam treatment, emulsifying hand and foot wrap, hot and cold stone therapy, and your choice of Calm or Deep massage.

I am so proud of myself and cannot wait.

the happenstance gourmande

Pesky veganism and conscientious omnivores…(day 10 of the cleanse)

19 Mar

So I’ll have to admit…I am DYING to eat today. I should probably let you know that of all my 10 days on my juice cleanse, today I think I feel the worst. When I say “worst,” I still mean that I feel great but I’m thinking that today, or maybe yesterday, is my hardest day. As I mentioned before, I watched entirely too much Food Network this weekend, and it has just made me remember how much I love flavors and textures and the feeling of chewing food and the pleasure that comes from eating something amazing and feeling satisfied.

On top of me dreaming about food, and spending hours reading recipes, I made the mistake of only having one green juice yesterday, and no green juice today. The only greens that I have left in my fridge are cabbage, cucumbers, and kale…but I already have plans for a kale and white bean saute, cucumbers in a salad with avocado, and corned beef and cabbage minus the corned beef. By not drinking green juice, and only having fruit and more sugary vegetables in my juices, I think it’s making me feel slightly sluggish (in comparison to green juice days, not in comparison to my normal life). Instead of waking up before my alarm clock this morning, I snoozed once. Still a vast improvement from my usual pre-cleanse snooze for an hour…but definitely a difference.

Overall, I feel really amazing and am SO pleased with myself for making it 10 days. I will update with overall measurements and a final weight-loss tally tomorrow but I thought I’d leave you with a few lessons that I have learned while juicing:

  • I am able to listen to my body’s cues and tell the difference between hunger and thirst (and boredom)
  • If I ever feel like my eating has spiraled out of control, I know that a 3- or 5-day juice cleanse will get me back to normal
  • Juicing for 10 days has allowed my body to reset itself and I will have no problems resisting treats
  • I had more energy juicing than eating 3 square meals a day — and because of that, I could have worked out more to release more toxins from my body
  • The less I eat, the BETTER my body feels — it does not like to be stuffed with excess sugar and fat
  • I should definitely integrate fresh green juices into my life as many days a week as possible
  • My body thanks me when I am good to it and being good to it entails limiting dairy and meat
  • I really cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke
  • I can probably do anything for 10 days if I set my mind to it

I am excited to wake up tomorrow and eat GRAPES and AVOCADO and BANANA. I plan to continue to be nice to my body by following what I’ll call a weekday pesky vegan and weekend conscientious omnivore diet — in other words, vegan plus fish during the week (pesco-vegan) and anything that I’d like on the weekend (still maintaining my commitment to eating good, clean food, free of hormones, pesticides, and GMOs).

Wish me luck finishing out my last day of just juice!

the happenstance gourmande