Monday, May 30, 2011

Spicy Kale Chips

 (Note: This picture is pre-baking. I forgot to take a picture when they came out of the oven... 
and there aren't any chips left to photograph.)

I feel like kale, like most leafy greens, gets neither the recognition nor the respect it deserves. More than once, I've had a cashier at the grocery store ask me, "What's that?" This question kind of blows my mind, because if you can't identify it (and hi, you're working at a grocery store), you probably aren't eating it, either. And you should be!

 I will admit that I haven't always been a fan of kale or its family members. I remember my mom making it for my brother and me a few times, but we weren't having it. After going vegan, though, I realized I'd have to make friends with not just kale, but collard greens and spinach, too. And now, kale and I have moved from friendship to love affair. Especially in the form of kale chips.

Chock full of vitamins and minerals, kale boasts loads of health benefits. Kale has high levels of vitamins A, C, and K; calcium, fiber, and beta-carotene, too, are present in large amounts. You can also find omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, potassium, and magnesium in kale. Together, these antioxidants strengthen our bones and teeth; protect and maintain heathy eyes and skin; prevent the formation of cancerous cells; promote regular digestion; work as an anti-inflammatory agent in arthritis and asthma; lower blood pressure; promote a healthy immune system. Seriously, there's no reason to not eat it!

So, I bring you one of my favorite ways to eat kale. It's so easy and so yummy, and you'll probably have a hard time not eating them all in one day. Or is that just me?

You'll need:

- 1 lb of fresh kale
- olive oil
- sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rinse and dry kale. Remove hard stems. Tear or cut leaves into smaller, edible pieces.
2. In a large bowl, toss leaves with 1 tbsp olive oil. You want to just lightly coat the leaves of oil; too much oil will make your leaves limp and greasy. If you need more oil to coat leaves, add oil 1/2 tbsp at a time.
3. Lay leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with sea salt and red pepper flakes to taste.
4. Bake 12-13 minutes. Half way through, you can toss them on the sheet for more even baking.

These can burn easily, so keep an eye on them! You can also toss on cayenne pepper for a smoky flavor.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Lately, I've been feeling a little nostalgic for New Orleans. I miss it. Lots. I came across this recipe in La Dolce Vegan, and decided to try to ease my heartache by blasting Lil Wayne while making red beans and rice.

If I had used the right kind of rice, I think this would have been a yummy way to pay vegan homage to New Orleans. Instead, I was an ass and thought, "Oh, the type of rice won't really matter. I'll use this long-grain brown rice instead of quick cooking rice, and it'll be fine."


When everything was finished, the rice was still slightly undercooked, and gave the dish a slightly crunchy texture. Not cool. The flavor was really tasty, but I just couldn't get over the rice situation. So, had I decided to fork out the two or three bucks for quick-cooking rice, this would have yielded way better results. Lesson learned.

And I don't miss NOLA any less. I guess it's time to start thinking about my next visit.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Edamame and Corn Salad

I wanted something easy and light to make for my lunches this week, because I've felt like a zombie lately and therefore want to spend as little time in the kitchen as possible. I'm also reading a terrific book (The Hangman's Daughter, if you're interested), so that, too, has consumed a lot of my time and interest. This recipe for Edamame and Corn salad, from Veganomicon, caught my eye because I love the namesake ingredients, and also have a weird affinity for sesame seeds... don't ask.

This recipe turned out fantastically. You might notice the peas in this picture, and, if you have the book, you might also notice that the recipe doesn't call for peas. I didn't have quite enough edamame as called for, so I threw in some frozen peas when I added the corn.

I'd also like to add that this recipe gets bonus points. Why? Because it uses some oils/vinegars that I don't use often, but they're handy to have because when you need them, well... you need them. I have a tiny kitchen with super limited storage, which I share with my omni mama. So yeah, picture trying to fit a well stocked vegan and non-vegan kitchen/cupboard in a tiny space. More than once, I've been asked, "Do you really need this oil? Do you need so many vinegars?" And the answer is always a dramatic, "Yes, mom." So, I was super happy to pull out the rice vinegar and sesame oil and say, "See? I use these."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tasty Tempeh Chili

This weekend was the annual DC101 Chili Cook-off, and several friends made posts about it on facebook. While I have no real interest in going to the cook-off, it did spark a serious craving for chili. Summer is quickly approaching, and with it, 90+ degree weather with humidity so oppressive the last thing you'd want to do is eat a bowl of hot chili. So I decided to take advantage of the weekend's beautiful weather to make a pot of chili.

In my three years as a vegan, I've yet to find a recipe that is my go to chili. I almost never make the same chili twice, just because I'm hellbent on finding a favorite. After leafing through my cookbooks, I decided to make the Tasty Tempeh Chili from La Dolce Vegan. Oh, man. So good. It's really easy and flavorful and awesome. I think it's the teaspoon of molasses that did it for me; it just added a flavor that I've found to be lacking in most chili recipes thus far. And the extra nice thing about this recipe is it doesn't make heaps and heaps of chili, so you don't have to eat chili for the rest of the month.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spinach and Mozzarella Pizza

Last night, I had a bunch of things on my "I need to use this up ASAP" list: some Life Light Smart Ground Original, Daiya mozzarella, and a pizza crust. The obvious solution? Pizza! Largely inspired by my favorite pizza at a shop in Philly, I came up with this.

You'll need:
- 1 pizza crust
- pizza sauce (I tend to use regular marinara sauce, though; Trader Joe's is the best!)
- baby spinach
- Daiya cheese
- Light Life Smart Ground Original
- garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano to taste
- dash of sea salt

1. Spray a medium skillet with non-stick spray. Add the Smart Ground; heat through. Season to taste with onion powder, garlic powder, basil, and oregano.
2. Lightly brush pizza crush with olive oil.
3. Spoon sauce over crust.
4. Top with spinach, then Smart Ground, then Daiya. Add more Smart Ground if you want.
5. Sprinkle a tiiiny bit of sea salt on top.
6. Bake according to pizza crust's instructions.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Edamame-Pineapple-Cashew Salad

While I was in New Orleans, my friend Krista made this amazing and yummy salad for lunch one day. It combines a lot of foods I love, and not long after my return to Charm City, I found myself craving this. I didn't have a recipe, because I think Krista also just sort of made it up, so here's my best "just wing it" attempt to make a recipe.

- 2 C cooked quinoa (although I used couscous because I was out of quinoa [!!])
- 1/2 C diced pineapple (fresh or canned, I prefer fresh)
- 1/2 C frozen edamame
- 1 medium red pepper, diced
- 1/4 C nuts (peanut or cashew; I prefer cashew, but only had peanuts on hand)
- dash of soy sauce
- olive oil

1. Prepare quinoa.
2. In large skillet, heat olive oil. Add red pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add edamame. Cook for another 3-4 minutes until edamame is cooked.
3. Stir in pineapple and quinoa. Add soy sauce to taste.
4. Stir in nuts.

This is so easy to make, and makes a great lunch. You can easily adjust it to suit your tastes. Krista added fresh mint and basil to this salad when she made it, and that was yummy, too! If you make any tweaks to this recipe, I'd love to hear what you tried and liked!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Charm City Vegan goes to New Orleans, LA

I'm back from New Orleans, and since then, life has kind of been a whirlwind. New Orleans was fabulous, though, and I can't wait to go back.

To my pleasant surprise, finding yummy vegan food wasn't hard. I tried a few different places while I was there, so if you're ever in the Big Easy, check them out!

This is a neat little punky place that serves Meixcan inspired food. The menu offered a couple of different vegan options so long as you request no cheese. It was hard to choose between a burrito with regular potatoes and a potato with sweet potatoes, but I ended up choosing the gutter punk (regular potatoes) and I was not disappointed. The food was good and the prices were reasonable, and with two locations, there's pretty much no reason to not try it.

Named after a native Louisiana fruit, I ended up at Satsuma, located in Bywater, for breakfast one day. Though tiny with limited seating, especially during brunch, this place is really neat. They try to use as many local and organic ingredients as possible. I was a bit disappointed that the only vegan breakfast option was a bagel (hello, I can get a bagel in Baltimore) and a cup of fresh fruit. I will say, however, that was hands down the best bagel I've ever had. Satsuma also offers a variety of fresh juice drinks that combine fruit and veggies for an awesome morning pick me up. And had I been there for lunch or dinner, it would have been fabulous because the salad and sandwich menu has several delicious sounding options.


This restaurant is located on the edge of the French Quarter, and serves amazing African food. Online reviews of the place suggest otherwise in terms of authenticity, but I've never been to Africa, so I can't speak to that. The food was fantastic, though. My friend and I split the black eyed pea fritters for an appetizer, which were great. I can't remember the name of my meal, but it included fried plantains, coconut rice, and spinach. The wait time for your food is a bit longer than other restaurants, but that's because everything is made from scratch. And the wait is totally worth it. This restaurant, too, is small, and you may have to wait for seating during busy hours, but you won't be disappointed!

Located in the French Quarter near Jackson Square, this place serves traditional Creole food. While most of the food is not suitable for vegans, their menu includes a daily, rotating vegetarian dish, which often times is also vegan. I called ahead of time to see what they offered, and they had a beans and rice veggie option, free of meat and dairy. Score! The food was really yummy and filling, too. It was a neat place to go, because it's much more traditionally New Orleans than some of the other places I ate at while there. 

A variety of foods and cultures to sample while in NOLA, but when you think about the city, I guess that isn't too surprising, is it? New Orleans gets the CCV Seal of Approval, just because I loved it so much.