Tag Archives: vegan mofo

Native Foods Cooking Demo

23 Oct

On Sunday morning, I woke up early to catch the bus to Westwood for my second Native Foods cooking demo. I attended one soon after my arrival in LA at the Culver City location, which you can read about here.

Anyway, I arrived about 15 minutes early and chose my antisocial seat hidden behind a poll, ’cause that’s what I do. Here’s what the cooking set-up looked like:

While we waited, I had two sample cups of their awesome chai:

And then the Hulk — I mean Chef Kendall — showed up:

Blammo. She was a hoot. Her manner was very engaging, which made the demo very exciting. We got to work trying our first samples: Mummy Meatloaf with Bloody Mary Sauce.

The meatloaf was seitan-based, and it tasted good, but it wasn’t terribly exciting. The sauce, however, was insanely good and really easy. I can see myself attempting a lentil/tempeh loaf and lathering it on, or using it as a tofu marinade, or making a twist on patatas bravas with it. So good!

Next we tried the Dragon’s Blood Punch:

Also tasty, though I’m not the world’s biggest fan of punch. It had cranberry, mixed fruit juice, and ginger ale.

And then we did dessert number 1 — Goblin “Sweet” Bread Ginger Pudding:

This was really tasty. I especially loved the addition of crystallized ginger. I did have to pick out/eat around the currants (raisins’ slightly less offensive but still reprehensible cousin), but I would definitely make this at home with leftover homemade sourdough and maybe chocolate chips instead of the ginger.

And dessert number 2 — Ghastly Gourd Parfaits:

This was tasty, too, but very hard to eat with a fork! It was a tofu-based pumpkin pudding with a spiced cookie crumble.

And then I won $10:

That’s me next to the Hulk

Technically, the people behind me won the $10 gift card. However, they left early — thank goodness, as they were some of the most annoying people I can remember encountering in a while — so I totally cannibalized their winnings. Bwah ha ha. No shame.

I had a good time at this demo, and while I thought Chef Kendall was an amazing host, I would have preferred a better balance of savory to sweet food. I felt pretty sugar-loaded by the time I left.

Since it was Sunday, my bus was only running every hour, so I spent about 55 minutes walking around Westwood. It was beautiful outside — 70s and overcast — so I did a little window shopping, logged two meandering miles, and stumbled across this lovely courtyard:

It was a great start to a Sunday.

Butternut Squash Blondies with Caramel

22 Oct

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that yesterday included some stress baking. Some people drink heavily, others clean — I bake when I’m feeling the pressure. I’d been planning to make a squash-based treat for a couple of weeks now, and Sunday’s moments of “ahhhhhh!” prompted me to get it underway.

Look at that spicy, gooey goodness. I scoured the web for a tweakable recipe and ended up with this one from the Tasty Kitchen. Below is my vegan version.

Butternut Squash Blondies with Caramel

  • 2/3 recipe of Easy Caramel Sauce
  • 6 tablespoons of liquid coconut oil (can sub in melted Earth Balance)
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (depending on your preferred level of sweetness)
  • 1/2 cup cooked butternut squash, mashed or pureed (or sub in canned pumpkin)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or use 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
  • 1 cup flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt

First prepare the vegan caramel sauce recipe above. I’m linking to it because I followed it to a T, loved it, and wouldn’t change a thing. Just a note — you can find cans of coconut cream at Trader Joe’s, if you’d rather use that than the full-fat coconut milk method. If you do, you can skip the first step of refrigerating it for four hours and get right to the caramel-making. Let the completed sauce cool in the fridge for about two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350° F and grease or spray an 8×8″ baking dish. In a large bowl, cream the coconut oil and sugar. I used 1/2 cup, but it’s VERY sweet, so I would probably use 1/3 cup next time. Now add the cooked butternut squash, vanilla, and spice and mix just until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until combined. Spread about 2/3 of it in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Remove caramel sauce from the fridge and reheat it over a medium flame, stirring constantly, for a couple of minutes, until it’s pourable. Spread about 2/3 of it on top of the blondie batter. (Save the rest for ice cream, coffee, eating by the spoonful, whatever you prefer.)

Now top with the rest of the batter, spreading it as much as you can to cover. Mine wasn’t perfect and looked like this:

Bake for 25 minutes, or until it’s golden and a toothpick inserted comes out batter-free (though the melty caramel with leave a trace). Eat it immediately if you don’t mind the sticky mess or let it cool completely to get a more solid blondie, like in the picture above. Both options taste amazing.

This recipe is not at all healthy, but it’s delicious and vegan! You could use pumpkin, as noted, but it’s also a great use for any kind of leftover roasted winter squash — well, probably not spaghetti squash, but you get the idea.

Breakfast three ways

16 Oct

I tend to be in a breakfast rut of some kind or another, which you have definitely seen here (hello, a month or two of overnight oats). I’ve been mixing things up slightly of late, so I thought it would be fun to share three easy ways to get your mornings started off right. We have two different seasonally appropriate oats recipes and one savory pancake. Let’s start with the sweet stuff.

This week, I’m enjoying a new baked oatmeal recipe that I prefer to my old method. I present:

Baked Banana Bread Oatmeal

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (generally two large or three medium bananas)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon liquid coconut oil, optional
  • Handful of chopped pecans, optional
  • Handful of chopped chocolate, optional

Preheat the oven to 375° F and grease or spray an 8×8″ baking dish or pie plate. In a medium bowl, combine the oats, spices, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and salt. Now add the banana, vanilla, milk, and coconut oil if using and stir until combined. Fold in the pecans and chocolate (I used half a square of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate, chopped small, but feel free to use semisweet or chocolate chips or none, of course) if using. Spread in the prepared baking dish to fill the bottom. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar on top fairly evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, then place the dish under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes to caramelize the sugar.

Serves 4.

This recipe is firmer and a little more cake-like than my pumpkin version, but it’s still best eaten with silverware. It isn’t overly sweet, so if you prefer a little more dolcezza in your mornings, feel free to up the sugar or drizzle a little honey or agave on your slice. I made this batch Sunday night and will eat it through Thursday morning. It reheats beautifully.

Here’s another seasonally appropriate oat recipe that serves one:

Butternut Squash Oats

  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup cooked butternut squash, mashed
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • A few pecan halves

In a small saucepan, combine the milk, water, and butternut squash. Heat over medium-high until it reaches a boil, then add the oats and reduce to a simmer (low on my hot stove, medium-low on a normal one). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the oats reach your desired consistency, about six minutes. Right before they’re done, add the sugar and spice (everything nice). Serve topped with pecans.

Butternut — or really any kind of sweet winter squash — is very similar to pumpkin in flavor profile, so while it isn’t a typical oatmeal add-in, it doesn’t taste out of place at all. The spices and pecans make it a warming, wonderful breakfast. Plus, it’s a great use for leftover roasted squash that is too scant for a lunch or dinner recipe.

And finally, I offer a savory take on breakfast or brunch:

Zucchini Sourdough Pancakes with Tomato Sauce

  • 1 small zucchini
  • 3 pinches of salt, divided
  • 2 drizzles of olive oil, plus more for cooking pancakes
  • 1/3 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (blended if you prefer that texture)
  • Fresh or dried oregano, to taste (I used three sprigs of fresh, but 1/2 teaspoon dried would be great, too)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 fresh hot pepper, minced or a pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter, freshly fed
  • 3/4 cup flour (I prefer white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Freshly ground pepper

Cut the ends off the zucchini and shred using a food processor if you have such fancy things or a cheese grater. Add to a bowl with one pinch of salt and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until it’s softened. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, oregano, vinegar, pepper, and a pinch of salt and reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce simmers and thickens, squeeze the moisture out of zucchini and add to a medium bowl. Combine with the sourdough starter, flour, baking powder, pinch of salt, and drizzle of olive oil just until mixed together. Now heat a skillet over medium or medium-low heat with a little oil. When hot, add 1/4 to 1/3 cupfuls of batter to the pan, careful not to overcrowd. (I did 1/3 cups and made two batches of three pancakes each. Sprinkle pepper over the top and let cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the bottom stops being batter.

Flip and cook another 2 minutes until set. I like to press down slightly after flipping. The pancakes are done when they firm and lightly golden.

Top with tomato sauce and eat immediately.

Serves 2.

These were a fun departure from normal pancakes, and they tasted especially delicious after my five-mile run Sunday morning. If you don’t have sourdough starter, you can also make them using your normal pancake base — just don’t add any sugar or sweet spices.

What’s your favorite breakfast recipe? Are you a savory or sweet fan? I like both, though I try not to add too much sugar to my sweeter breakfasts because then I crave it all day long. I like to use fruit to sweeten as much as I can.

This post has been linked up with In Her Chucks’ “What’s in the Box? #47″!

CSA Week 7 and Meal Planning (plus a video!)

15 Oct

(Video is working now! Sorry for the false promise last night.)

Hello all! Here is a rare late-night post from me. It’s basically my bed time right now, but I wanted to get this posted while I have access to the photos on my home computer, so without further ado, here’s my CSA haul for the week:

Behold a very green bounty:

  • mint x2
  • oregano
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • Swiss chard
  • red leaf lettuce
  • butternut squash
  • carrots
  • zucchini x5
  • green bell peppers x2
  • fuyu persimmons x2
  • eggplants x3

My mister was curious about the persimmons, so we consulted Google to ensure these were the sweet fuyu and not the tart hachiyas. Once satisfied, he took a bite, and I caught it on video. I think he’s pretty cute:

My husband eats his first persimmon from Brigid on Vimeo.

We are going to let the other one ripen longer before sinking any teeth in.

So where’s it all going? Here is the plan:

Sunday brunch: zucchini pancakes with tomato sauce

Breakfasts: Baked banana oatmeal


  • Weekdays — Butternut squash/lentil tacos (me), black bean tacos (him)
  • Saturday — Leftovers in some configuration


  • Sunday — Quinoa Confetti Casserole from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan
  • Monday/Tuesday — Coconut curry in the slow cooker
  • Wednesday — Pasta with veggies and tomato sauce and salad
  • Thursday/Friday — Black bean soup and sautéed Swiss chard
  • Saturday — Veggie and noodle stir fry

And as for workouts, I am a slave to my 10K training plan.


So that slices up to be:

Monday – strength
Tuesday – three-mile run plus strides
Wednesday – stretching and hip-opening yoga
Thursday – four-mile run
Friday – strength
Saturday – two-mile run plus strides
Sunday – five-mile run

That’s the look of my week from a food and fitness perspective. Tomorrow I will have a fun recap of some delicious breakfast recipes. See you then!

Every week, I participate in In Her Chucks‘ “What’s in the Box?” link-up. Click here to see boxes from all over!

Vegan Mac & Cheese Showdown

15 Oct

I owe you a meal planning and CSA post, but my computer was held hostage all day yesterday for football. I used the good camera (i.e. not the iPhone) to take photos, and now I’m at work, so I will have to see if Mr. X can send them to me when he eventually rises and shines. Anyway, it feels wonderful not to be sick any more. I took Friday off to recuperate, which was a good choice. I was still feeling crappy on Saturday, so clearly I just needed the rest (and extra neti potting).

I did venture out briefly on Saturday, though, for LA’s Best Vegan Mac & Cheese Showdown hosted by Chica Vegan! I have been looking forward to this event for a month, and there was no way I was going to miss it. We’re talking $5 for five samples of vegan macaroni and cheese hosted at a space I love that is walking distance from my apartment. I sucked up my sniffles and the fact that I was flying solo while X had an audition and headed down.

So, like I said, you fork over $5 to receive a ticket book for your samples:

Each restaurant had one for you to tear off and exchange for your cup of faux cheesy goodness. The system was very organized. I tried to get a shot of the action, but I’m a pretty terrible photographer, as you know, so this is what I got:

Anyway, I had my first sample from Hugo’s, which I have visited twice though strangely never written about:

Theirs was so brightly colored and is a regular menu item. It featured: “Fusilli pasta with garlic, sliced mushrooms and sweet peas in a creamy cashew and sunflower cheese sauce. Topped with crispy onions.” It was really, really good (and HUGE! My eyes were much bigger than my stomach. I honestly believed I could power through every bite of five of those things without getting sick, but I was wrong.). I really like Hugo’s — especially their brunch — but had never sampled their well-known mac ‘n cheese. I’m so glad I did!

Next was M Cafe de Chaya, which I have also visited and enjoyed and not mentioned on the blog:

Theirs was the most non-traditional spin with rotini, asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes tossed in a light white sauce and topped with arugula. I enjoyed this take and would definitely eat it again, but it would have been more to my taste with some crushed red pepper or even just black pepper. I think that’s a macrobiotic thing, though.

The third one I tried was from SunCafe Organic, a new-to-me restaurant that Lynn from The Actor’s Diet recommended before:

Theirs was a tweak of a regular menu item, and here’s how they describe it: “ANDEAN DREAM quinoa pasta, tomato, cashew cheese sauce, garlic pecan crumble” (minus the “lemon basil tossed baby greens”). This was hands down my favorite. It was so flavorful and creamy, and the pecan crumble was insane. I was already feeling a little full by this point, but I couldn’t stop myself from eating every delicious morsel. I am so, so glad to discover SunCafe!

As I said, I was feeling more than a little full at this point, but I still had to try the last two contenders so that I could vote with accuracy. I grabbed them both at the same time, had three nibbles of each, and then saved the rest for Mr. X. Here is Doomie’s Home Cookin’, one of my favorite vegan restaurants that I’ve blogged about once before:

This was your basic Kraft mac ‘n cheese except veganized. To be totally honest, it was my least favorite, which isn’t to say it was bad, but I have just never been a fan of the basic recipe. Even as a kid I didn’t eat boxed macaroni and cheese. (I was weird and incredibly picky.) I know I’m the odd one out, though, since Doomie’s won second place in the people’s choice vote.

And finally we had Southern Fried Vegan, which was totally new to me:

Like Doomie’s, theirs was pretty traditional, though it did have a nice little sharpness to it that set it apart. They apparently participate in a lot of events — they don’t have a brick and mortar shop — including this week’s Vegan Taco Thursday at Eagle Rock Brewing that I will have to check out soon.

After we sampled (or gorged ourselves on) the choices, we voted for our favorite. There were two prizes: the people’s choice and the judges’ favorite. The judges were:

  • Judge of Top Chef Masters and Food Editor at LAist.com: Krista Simmons
  • Mohawk Bend’s Executive Chef: Mike Garber
  • Hot Knives Cookbook Writers and Chefs: Evan and Alex

The winners of the people’s choice were SunCafe Organic in first place and Doomie’s Home Cookin’ in second place. The judges’ favorites were Hugo’s in first and SunCafe in second.

Here are my picks in order:

  1. SunCafe
  2. Hugo’s
  3. M Cafe de Chaya
  4. Southern Fried Vegan
  5. Doomie’s

So that was the event. Since I was feeling poorly and was by myself, I left pretty quickly, but I had an amazing time. I want to give a huge shout out to Chica Vegan for organizing such a great event, to the five restaurants who participated, and to all the volunteers to ran such a perfect event. I hope to see more showdowns in the near future!

Sick :P

11 Oct

Allergies, whatever: I’m sick. My nose is all stuffly, and my eyes are all burny. I have upped my neti pot usage to twice a day, and I’m chugging hot tea (and, as a result, making frequent trips to the ladies room). I am still getting my training runs in, though. I conquered my three-miler on Tuesday, and today I finished my four, though with walking breaks again. I did improve my pace: 13:26 on Sunday’s four-miler to 12:45 today. Woo hoo!

All that said, I’m tired and sniffly and a little grumpy, but I will be back tomorrow with some food for you. Thanks for understanding!

Weeknight recipes

10 Oct

Frequent readers of this blog know I’ve been pretty hardcore about meal planning the last couple of months due to my CSA, my need to save money, and my desire to eat better. Naturally, these efforts necessitate cooking during the week, even when I’m tired and cranky (or, in the case of last night, fighting off some nasty allergies). I’m turning to meals that sound delicious but are not complicated, and so far I’ve had great success this week, so I wanted to share a couple. First off is a variation on my Basic Lentil Soup:

I adapted it for the slow cooker, though, since I still only have one working burner at home.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1/3 cup barley
  • 3 small-medium carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 container of mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced (white and green parts) — you could use a small onion instead
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tofurkey Italian Sausage, chopped coarsley
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The soup epitomizes what I love about the slow cooker: combine everything in your cooker, add eight cups of water, and set to cook. You can put it on low and let it cook all day while you’re at work, or you can set it to high, and it will be done in three or so hours. I did the latter since I was preparing it for lunches on Sunday evening. It makes a very thick soup that is filling but not too heavy.

Serves 6ish.

I love lentil soup because, really, you can add any vegetables you want and season it however you prefer. I went Italian this time, but it could just as easily been curried or made Mexican-style.

For dinner Monday and Tuesday night, we enjoyed a variation on Oh She Glows’ Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze.

I made the following modifications:

  • Used olive oil instead of Earth Balance.
  • Added two garlic cloves (instead of the powder), two scallions (though I would actually saute regular white onion next time for even more flavor), and a lot of crushed red pepper.
  • Mashed the roasted butternut squash with a fork and didn’t bother with a blender.

Our bowls contained the sauce, whole wheat spaghetti, shiitake mushrooms, the rest (FINALLY!) of the white beans, and kale. I would guess the ratios were:

  • 1 recipe of the sauce
  • 1 bag of spaghetti minus one serving (though I did boil the spaghetti fresh each night since I really hate the texture of leftover whole wheat pasta)
  • Half a container of shiitake mushrooms (button or cremini would work great, too)
  • 1.5 cups cooked cannelini beans
  • 1 bunch of kale, torn into pieces

Made 4 hearty servings.

Since I had roasted the squash on Friday night, the meal came together really fast, especially last night, since all we — Mr. X, rather, since I was feeling sick and, therefore, had regressed to a whiny baby — had to do was boil some pasta and reheat the sauce. I won’t say it truly tasted like a cheese sauce, but the flavor was delicious and very interesting. It also had a great consistency even without blending it.

Tonight we’re having variation #10 billion on X’s Spicy Portobello Chili, and he has demanded I update the recipe with our current favorite combination, so expect that post soon.


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