Category Archives: Appetizers and Sides

balila hummus.

Remember my obsession with my neighborhood Lebanese restaurant? Seriously, I miss it already, and I haven’t even left yet. But one of the things I can take home with me is my newfound love of Lebanese food.

Along with the moussaka, this is our favorite tapas dish to order there. Whenever we order it, the owner always asks, “Do you know what this is? Because often people order it and are surprised when they get it.” Of course, at this point, we know what we’re getting. And it’s great.

It’s not your typical smooth, creamy hummus. Consider it hummus, deconstructed, and served warm. So basically, it’s a hot dip of mashed chickpeas, cumin, and toasted pine nuts. Sounds basic, but trust me, it’s awesome. We like to have potluck parties here, and my homemade version of this dip has become a staple. Serve it with warm pita and/or veggies, and you’ve got a hit on your hands.

Balila Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas, undrained
  • 1 tbsp plus 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • juice of half a large lemon (or one small)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmery.
  2. Add garlic, and cook for about 10 seconds, stirring, before adding the cumin. Cook just until the garlic starts to brown (be careful not to burn it!), and add the chickpeas with liquid in the can. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  3. Simmer gently, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, spray a small skillet with a bit of cooking oil. Add the pine nuts in a single layer, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until just browned. Remove immediately and put in a small bowl to the side.
  5. Once the liquid in the sauce pan has reduced a fair amount, add the parsley and the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil and give a quick stir. Cook on low, covered, for just 1 minute more, and remove from heat.
  6. Using a fork, mash most of the chickpeas. You want to keep it chunky, so don’t go overboard, and leave some of the chickpeas completely whole. Put in a serving bowl, and stir in some of the pine nuts, sprinkling the rest on top.
  7. Serve with warm pita and fresh vegetables.

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Filed under Appetizers and Sides, Eat, Gluten Free, Snacks and Hors D'Ouevres

Detox Salad

Last night I was pondering which way to go re: the obligatory post New Year “detox”. When I was reorganizing all the stuff I moved out of my apartment a few weeks ago, I was feeling ambitious and went ahead and unpacked my juicer, so 3 day Juice Cleanse was option 1. Back in May, I embarked on a week of raw eating that was actually really successful, and an easy transition since my diet is primarily plant-based anyway, so last night that became option 2. Last January, I went an ayurvedic, macrobiotic route… option 3.

But I’m opting for option 4: to make small, positive choices in all areas of my life that will contribute to overall mental and physical health. I believe that a slow and steady approach will do so much more to foster lasting good habits. Plus, I haven’t really gone overboard with unhealthiness in a while, so small adjustments are really all I need.

What I do want to do this week, just for myself, is keep a little journal of what I’m doing well, plus tasks I need to get done each day. I get scattered in this crazy brain of mine- you should see all the “stickies” on my computer desktop- so it’s better for me to keep things visually organized.

A few highlights of my goals, big and small:

– keep track of my sleep, and aim for 7 hours at least with no interruptions

– take time for meditation each day

– start doing yoga again on a regular basis

– keep coffee down to 2 cups max

– cut sodium consumption

– drink more tea and water

The next couple of weeks have the potential to be a bit overwhelming as I get everything in order to, ahem, move out of the country. It is all the more important, therefore, to remain as calm as possible. I opted not to really share my resolutions for 2013, but I will say that one of the big ones is to remain positive and zen, even in the face of stress. Good healthy habits will help to keep me centered.

Eating well is always a part of that. This salad is a staple, both when I hit the Whole Foods prepared foods bar and at home. It’s easy to make, sweet, zesty, and adaptable… I made some changes to the original posted at Oh She Glows.

Detox Salad

adapted from Oh She Glows and Whole Foods

Ingredients

  • 1 head broccoli
  • 1 head cauliflower, stems removed
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • kosher salt, pepper to taste (1/4-1/2 tsp salt and lots of pepper)
  • 1 tbsp garlic dulse flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp kelp granules
  • salt free seasoning to taste (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)

Instructions

  1. Process cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots in the food processor separately until each is shredded and mix together in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix in the remaining ingredients, and stir until well-combined. Feel free to adjust seasonings and lemon juice to personal taste.

Notes

Angela also suggests adding a bit of maple syrup if you would prefer some more sweetness, but I think the currants do the trick.
Also, the recipe normally calls for 1/2 cup raisins as well- I omitted because I only had currants on hand.

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Filed under Appetizers and Sides, Eat, Gluten Free, Main Dishes and Entrees

Pumpkin Baked Acorn Squash with Cinnamon and Fresh Herbs

We’ve got a squash on squash situation.

I have here one of those serendipitous recipes that just seemed like a simple idea to put together but exceeded all expectations. I was quickly reminded that cinnamon as a savory spice is unexpectedly fantastic. And guess what? Pumpkin puree makes a great marinade. Cinnamon and fresh herbs make a great air freshener. And as the chill in the air becomes more pronounced, this recipe is a great excuse to crank up the oven and celebrate the harvest.

P.S. This is already on my Thanksgiving menu.

Pumpkin Baked Acorn Squash with Cinnamon and Fresh Herbs

Ingredients

  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • handful each of fresh sage leaves and fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 acorn squash, sliced
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, broth, miso, garlic, soy sauce, cinnamon, and fresh herbs until combined.
  2. Chop the mushrooms, carrots, and acorn squash and put them in a large bowl. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the vegetables and toss, so everything is evenly coated. Transfer the entire mixture to a baking pan, laying out as evenly as possible, sprinkle with pepper, and loosely cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, checking periodically and stirring the mixture. Remove and serve.

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Filed under Appetizers and Sides, Eat, Gluten Free, Main Dishes and Entrees

Kimchi Taco Salad

New Yorkers take their food trucks very seriously.

In a city of convenience (and awesome food), what’s better than gourmet on the go?

One of the favorites of the food truck world is the Kimchi Taco Truck. It’s beloved by omnis and veggies alike- it’s just so freaking good. I looove kimchi, so it was a no-brainer for me.

And it inspired this salad!

Obviously kimchi is great on its own, but the Korean BBQ Sauce just sets it over the edge. Combine it with some all-natural ingredients, and you’ve got a fresh, zesty, delicious meal.

Kimchi Taco Salad

For the salad:

tortilla strips, toasted

romaine lettuce

1/3 avocado, sliced

kimchi*

* Not all kimchi is vegan- it’s often made with fish. If you are vegan, make sure you check before you buy!

Korean BBQ Dressing:

¼ onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup soy sauce or tamari

1 tsp miso paste

3 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp tahini

1 inch chunk fresh ginger, minced

½ tsp red pepper flakes

pinch of guar gum

2 tbsp brown sugar OR 2 tbsp agave OR ½ tsp stevia

1/4 tsp black pepper

Assemble the salad as you wish and pour the dressing over before you serve. Enjoy!

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Filed under Appetizers and Sides, Eat, Gluten Free, Salads

Dreamy Mac & Cheese

When I think of macaroni and cheese, I think of blue boxes, fluorescent orange noodles, and blissful childhood weekends. My mom is a great cook and we definitely ate well growing up, but weekends were her days off from chef duty and Kraft was often the go-to on Friday and Saturday nights. Come on people, you know you love loved it too. Veganism and all-natural eating don’t make Kraft mac & cheese much of a possibility for me anymore, I shouldn’t have to rule out macaroni and cheese entirely.

This recipe comes to the rescue!

It’s ingredient-heavy, for sure, and pretty pricey at that (who knew cashews were so expensive?!) But it’s sooooo tasty- the most perfect zesty cheesy, creaminess. An indulgence that deserves indulging. It’s the kind of dish to gleefully serve your friends who say “Ohhh, you’re vegan? Don’t you get tired of eating rabbit food?”

Vegan Comfort Food for the win.

Just a heads up, I served mine with spaghetti squash “noodles” which tasted AMAZING (and make it gluten free!) but feel free to use the good ‘ole regular kind! Make it classic with elbows :)

Dreamy Mac & Cheese

1 cup almond milk

2/3 cups cashews

4 tbsp nutritional yeast

3 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp vinegar

2 tsp lemon juice

2 tsp miso paste or salt to taste

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Blend all together in a food processor or blender until smooth and creamy. Heat over the stove until hot (add more milk if you want a thinner consistency). Stir with cooked spaghetti squash or noodles, and serve.

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Filed under Appetizers and Sides, Eat, Gluten Free, Main Dishes and Entrees

“Fried” Cauliflower “Rice”

That’s a lot of quotation marks for a recipe title.

But it’s necessary, because this fried rice recipe is not actually fried, and *surprise!* doesn’t actually have a grain of rice in it. But trust me, you’ll be tossing your takeout menus in no time with this healthier but equally tasty option. It fit in my detox, it’s macrobiotic, vegan, gluten free, low-carb, blah blah blah. Most importantly, it tastes amazing.

“Fried” Cauliflower Rice

½ head cauliflower

½ medium onion

1 clove garlic, minced

3 tbsp sliced leeks or scallions

5-10 baby carrots, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

4 oz. silken soft tofu (gluten free)

1 tsp ground ginger

vegetable broth

soy sauce (gluten free)

“Rice” the cauliflower with the onion in a food processor. Set aside. Saute the garlic over medium heat on a pan that has been lightly spritzed with cooking spray. Add the cauliflower “rice”.  Stir and add the veggies and tofu. Once the tofu has scrambled and is evenly distributed throughout, add some vegetable broth (1/4 cup or so) and continue to stir so that it all cooks evenly. Add the ginger. Once the liquid has evaporated, add a couple tbsp of soy sauce and stir. Once the liquid has evaporated, the vegetables are cooked, and the “rice” is slightly browned, remove from heat and serve. Makes 2 large servings.

In other news, today is Day 5, the final day of my detox!

I feel great, I ate well, and slept better than I have in a while.

Lessons learned?

  • I can definitely move my caffeine intake wayyyy down. I’m talking like a small cup of coffee a day rather than my usual 2-3 huge mugs.
  • I used to add way to much salt to things! Food tastes better when I don’t!
  • Realists might call me crazy, but this Ayurvedic stuff totally works. I feel so much more in tune with myself and balanced. And the macrobiotic aspect? I miss the nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplant, etc.) but I will be lessening my intake a lot… to maybe just 2-3 times a week. I also miss greek yogurt, but will be lessening my intake of that as well.

I call that success!

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Filed under Appetizers and Sides, Eat, Gluten Free, Live, Main Dishes and Entrees