Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sundried Tomato and Spinach Quiche

QuicheThe first time I ever had quiche was at a fireside chat with the Dean of the American Film Institute when I was a grad student there.  College days for me usually started late and ended late so when I showed up without having had breakfast, I was so happy to see a spread laid out.  The veggie friendly buffet was made up of fresh fruit, muffins, croissants, and a cheddar broccoli quiche.  Maybe it was the coffee overload or the surprise of being fed when I thought I’d have to wait two hours before I could grab a bite but my first taste of quiche was divine.  Fast forward to today, and this vegan girl won’t let any eggs or cow cheese pass her lips.  The need for a plant based quiche was suddenly in demand.  Not just any quiche would do.  Oh, no.  I wanted that quiche in my memory.  I wanted the cheesy fluffy quiche without the egg and without the cheese.  What’s a girl to do?  About a year ago, I experimented with a soy free, gluten free quiche that I made for my sister.  It was good but unless it's really freakin’ good, it doesn’t make the blog.  Grab your pencil and your notecards because this recipe is one you’ll want to keep around for generations!  This baby uses tofu instead of eggs and for a little dash of guaranteed yum factor, I’ve added some Daiya* cheddar to it.  Can you really go wrong with tofu and Daiya?  I say no way!!  Usually, I shy away from soy.  Not to say that soy is bad but I know that it is not the easiest on the digestive system and soy has a tendency to slow me down after I eat it.  Limit but not eliminate.  That’s my motto and since I’ve been so good lately about having two raw meals a day, I decided that a little splurge was deserved.  Leave it to us crazy vegans to call a healthy, plant-based quiche a splurge!!  Well, life is what you make of it and splurge I did!! 
This recipe includes a homemade and incredibly quick crust but you can also use a store bought pre-made version.  My crust is made with whole wheat flour and coconut oil and is incredibly light and flaky.  It works wonderfully as a pie crust so if you wish to make pie, just double the recipe.  The beauty of a quiche recipe (just like a soup or stir-fry recipe) is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand.  I had a huge container of spinach and a large jar of sundried tomatoes so I knew they would pair beautifully together.  Part of the ease of a vegan lifestyle is being able to throw in fresh and local produce to a recipe that is a blueprint for your dish.  Once you know the basics, then experiment with different pairings and flavors to create something new and fresh.
* Daiya is a brand of vegan cheeses that are made using tapioca starch instead of soy, rice, or nut.  It is completely meltable and is great in dishes which call for meltable cheeses i.e. pizza, mac n’ cheese, quesadilla, or even as a garnish such as for tacos, soups, or chili.  You can buy it at most grocery stores especially Whole Foods, Sprouts, Central Market or other health/vegan specialty stores.  You cannot get it at Trader Joes, Vons, or Albertsons (as far as I know). 

- 1 Quick Vegan Pie Dough/Crust
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 4 cups spinach
- 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small tomato, sliced thinly (this will go on top of the quiche for decoration)
- 1 pound firm tofu, pressed and patted dry
- pinch of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/4 cup vegan cheddar shreds (I used Daiya)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup almond milk
1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Drain your tofu and wrap in a kitchen towel.  Set something heavy on it to drain the excess water.  Leave the tofu to press while preparing the other ingredients.
3. In a medium sized skillet, add olive oil and bring to medium heat.  Then add the onion, zucchini, and sundried tomato until cooked, about 5 to 7 minutes. Then add the spinach and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes or until the spinach is slightly wilted.
4. In a food processor using the S blade, add the tofu, nutmeg, turmeric, salt, pepper and almond milk.  Blend until smooth.
5.  In a medium sized bowl, add the veggies, tofu blend, and vegan cheddar shreds.  Stir the mixture together and add pepper to taste.
6.  Pour your tofu mixture into the pie crust.   Decorate the top with thin slices of tomato (optional but so worth it).  Bake for 30 minutes.  Is it done?  Test by inserting a knife into the middle.  If it comes out clean, it is done. Serve warm with a simple side salad for an incredible meal anytime.  You can also eat it cold or at room temperature for a packed lunch or picnic.  Will keep for a few days covered in the refrigerator. Plated quiche

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rawlicious Chocolate Pudding

I must confess, I have a severe sweet tooth.  C’mon what girl doesn’t!!  Yet, I also have the desire to be healthy and fit (kind of in wake up mode from winter right now and trying to shed those hibernation pounds in time for summer).  The occasional baked good is fantastic but too much of them and I just don’t feel healthy.  Being a chocoholic, cookie monster, and compulsive cake eater left me looking for the perfect balance of satisfaction and slimness.  When I first became vegan, I noticed my sense of taste heighten.  Soon fatty foods were too fatty tasting and my need for sweetness was downgrading a notch and some things that I loved (especially candy) were just too sweet and made me feel toxic.  So, I tossed the red vines, sour patch kids, and rock candy for good.  In their place, I made vegan cakes, cookies, muffins, scones, and chocolates.  Eventually, I began to feel the same way about baked sweets that I had started to feel about candy and other sweet treats.  I realize know that once we start down the path to ultimate health and clean eating, our body craves more and more until we find the perfect balance of clean eating and food satisfaction.  For me, this means raw desserts.  Don’t get me wrong, I can still go for a slice of apple pie, or a cookie but when I eat raw versions of treats, I can satisfy my sweet tooth and still feel healthy and energetic at the same time.  Not to mention, I don’t feel like my teeth are rotting!  One of my favorite treats when I was a kid (yup, I was a chubby little thing) was pudding cups.  My mother never put limits on what we could eat so I’d down a couple of them as my afterschool snack.  Saying goodbye to dairy is the first pudding cup kicker.  Cutting back on processed sugar is another.  However, as I love being as unrefined as possible I absolutely must share with you my love love love of this fantastic Rawlicious Chocolate Pudding.  It will keep in the refrigerator overnight but has never gone uneaten longer than that so I’m not sure how long it will actually keep!  Make lots of this stuff in your first go so that you don’t find yourself in the kitchen making a second batch because you can’t believe how sinfully delicious this stuff is.  If you make it and you love it, please leave a comment and share the love by giving this recipe to your friends for them to make as well!
If you like this recipe, feel free to try out my other raw desserts by clicking on the “Recipes” tab and scrolling down to desserts.  Everything raw is marked with an R.
                                                               Choc pudding


-  2 avocados, peeled and pitted
-  1 cup almond milk ( I use vanilla flavored almond milk.  If you don’t make your own, store bought
    is okay but usually isn’t raw and contains more sugar).
- 3/4 cup agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey (I am a vegan who uses honey.  I used local, raw
   Blackberry honey for this recipe).
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla extract (or you can substitute with 1 scraped vanilla bean)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch of Himalayan salt or sea salt

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth, creamy, and pudding-like.  Chill before serving.  Feel free to garnish with a spring of mint, a sprinkle of cinnamon or coconut, or top with a dollop of raw whipped cream.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Warm Veggie Salad

Warm veggie salad

Tonight we set the clocks ahead (don’t forget!) and I know that this is the first step toward welcoming the spring.  As if more daylight weren’t already enough, the island weather has chosen to gift us with some serious sun today!!  The weather outside is chilly but blissfully sunny!  Yesterday was sunny as well and there was no way it was going to be wasted.  Matt and I took the hounds to the sunniest park on the island to soak up the rays and play for a few hours.  Our black lab mix, George, always runs like crazy and he was lucky enough to encounter the flock of geese who are residents at the park.  They ran from him but one was curious enough to come and say hello to me.  In the middle is our other rescue, Pirate whose got a nasty case of muddy paws!
IMG_20120915_085931  IMG_20130308_152455IMG_20130308_152125
The park is beginning to bloom and with the past few months of classic grey Seattle skies, I was super excited to see pops of color all over the place.  Plus, I just bought a new Samsung Galaxy S II with an 8 mp camera and just had to try it out!  I’m pretty happy with these pictures and I hope they brighten your day as much as they did mine Smile
Sunny skies always remind me the bikini season is fast approaching and now is the time to transition from heavy warm winter foods to lighter dishes and fresher foods.  The farmers market opens next month and soon we will have so many fresh fruits and vegetables that easting fresh will be easy and irresistible.  For now, the cold days still beg for something warm to eat and the best of both worlds are combined in this incredibly delicious Warm Veggie Salad.  Obviously inspired by a grilled vegetable salad, the grill is on standby for warmer weather and we take this dish indoors and use a sate method to make a midseason twist on the classic grilled veggie.  Use whatever vegetables you have on hand and you can always use an Asian inspired dressing like the one in my Roasted Butternut Squah and Kale Salad recipe for an Asian twist using vegetables like boy choy and Chinese cabbage.

Makes 2 Mains or 4 sides
1 bunch of Romaine
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/3 cup broccoli, chopped
1/3 cup carrot, diced
1/3 cup green beans, chopped
1/3 cup corn
1/2 cup zucchini, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large leaves basil, chopped (optional for garnish)

1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar 
2 tablespoons horseradish mustard (or Dijon)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash romaine and vegetables.  In a medium bowl, tear the romaine into bite-sized pieces.  You can use a knife to chop you lettuce but this can cause bruising so I tear using my hands.
2. Chop or dice your vegetables into similar sized pieces.  I used frozen corn so I just measured about 1/3 cup.
Chopped veggies
3.  In a medium skillet, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and bring to medium-high heat.  Add the carrot and cook for about two minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then add the bell pepper, broccoli, green beans, corn, and zucchini.  Stir.  Add a dash of salt and pepper.  Always add your seasoning while in the cooking process and not after to ensure that the flavors are well incorporated.  Cook for about 3 minutes.
4.  Add the minced garlic and stir.  Cook for an additional 2-5 minutes.  We want our vegetables to be lightly softened but still crispy and fresh tasting.  Remove from heat and set aside.
5.  In a small bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and mustard.  Whisk to blend well.  Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and whisk to incorporate.
6.  To serve: Plate each dish with a bed of romaine, add the vegetables on top, then drizzle dressing over the top.  Sprinkle with a dash of pepper and garnish with basil or whatever fresh herbs you have on hands.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Indian Lentil and Chickpea Stew

Indian lentil chickpea stew


Living on an island has its perks, no doubt. In almost every direction, there are water views, mountain lined horizons, salty air, and marinas that sprinkle the roads all around this tiny island. We take charming ferry rides to get to the mainland, aka Seattle, and we take a bridge to get to the grocery store. Whales and dolphins are our kayaking companions and everyone loves the seasonal runs of salmon and trout. Any given day can unfold sights worthy of an episode on NatGeo and did I mention the incredible sunsets?


Who wouldn't love living on our little island? Seattle is a very vegan friendly city and it's just a ferry ride away. If I want a tasty vegan dining experience, a trip to Seattle is a must. If a 35 minute ferry ride, bus ride and ticket fare aren't looking keen then it's up to my cooking skills to create some serious island locked vegan satisfaction. Which is cool, because I love to cook :)

There is one shining beacon in this dark and lonely vegan wasteland, a place on the island with delicious vegan fare. The illustrious Spice Route is notorious on our little island for being veg friendly as most dishes can be made with coconut milk instead of cow milk. This is fantastic and I love going there to eat my way to vegetable korma bliss. That is, I used to love it. During my last visit to the quaintly local Indian restaurant, that unwanted ingredient found it's way into my food and into my mouth. Pulling a piece of chicken out of a vegan mouth is never a positive experience. An experience that will forever keep me on my toes and cause me to endlessly search my food before consuming has turned my Spice Route love to heartache. Will I let that stop me? Now way!! No vegan takes the easy street! Now I'm on a quest to master the art of vegan Indian cooking!! My first dish was incredible and shockingly easy to make. I hope you find it just as easy and delicious as I did :) Never give up and always remember to viva la vegan!


2 cups lentils, prepared (or 2 15-ounce cans rinsed and drained)

2 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans), prepared (or 2 15-ounce cans rinsed and drained)

1 26 ounce-jar spaghetti sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (fresh ginger makes all the difference)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt

2 teaspoons mild curry powder

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

1 cup water

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/3 cup chopped cilantro


1. In a large sized skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add your onion, ginger and salt, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

2. Add in your spices in the early stages of cooking and this will help the flavors develop, become fragrant, and allow to blend into the flavors of the meal instead of tasting like add ins. At this point, go ahead an add in your spices (curry, garam masala, cayenne) and stir continuously for about 60 seconds until the spices become fragrant.

3. Slowly add and stir in the pasta sauce.

4. Add lentils and chickpea to the pan, Slowly add water and stir. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Indian dishes always love to simmer and develop their flavors!

5. Just before serving, add your lime juice and stir. Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati or jasmine rice for a complete and healthy meal.

Roast Beet and Carrot Salad

Beet salad_01


I have a love affair with most veggies, which is why I love being vegan but there are a few shining gems in the pile of plant-based picks that really charm my taste buds. Beets rock my vegan world and if you love beets like me, this dish will knock your vegan socks off! Inspired by a party that I threw for a friend who was leaving for the Congo to do a volunteer project building schools, this dish is like nothing I had tasted before. This is a Congolese dish that I served alongside my Lentil Banana Salad and was a complete crowd pleaser. Grounded in earthy flavors thanks to the beet and carrot combo, my carrot and beet salad had a hint of exoticism thanks to the mint, cumin and paprika in the dressing. This dish sits well and can be made in advance and travels really well for a colorful lunch or a fun picnic. Beets are full of carbs and low on fat so it is a great choice for energy boosting and will fill you up without slowing you down. I pair this salad with Couscous with Caramelized Onions and Raisins and Pecan Crusted Tofu for a complete dinner. If you haven't worked with beets before, be aware of the fact that beet juice can stain so be sure to wear an apron! *

Makes 6-8 servings


About 3 1/2 pounds of beets

4-6 carrots, quartered length ways

3 tablespoons olive oil

For the dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 bunch chives, chopped

1 small bunch of mint, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon honey (or agave if you prefer to omit honey)

Salt and Pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. Roasting veggies usually entails rubbing the veggies with olive oil and tossing in salt and pepper. It is just that simple. So go ahead and wash your beets and if the greens are still there, chop off the greens. You can save them for juicing or you can simply sauté them later for a tasty side dish. Make sure your beets are nice and clean and rid of dirt. Dry well. Lightly rub with olive oil and add a dash of salt and pepper. Roast times for beets will vary depending on the size. Small beets will begin to be tender after 25 minutes, larger ones can take up to an hour. Half way through the roasting time, give them a toss to ensure even roasting. Larger beets will need to be turned over. Your beets are ready when they are fork tender.

3. While the beets roast, in a separate pan, roast carrots the same way. Carrots will take 30 to 45 minutes. Remember to toss halfway and ensure even coating of olive oil so they do not dry out.

4. When veggies are ready, remove from oven and allow to cool.

5. In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk together to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste.

6. When the beets have cooled, removed the skins and cut into bite-sized wedges.

7. In a medium bowl, add the carrots, beets, and dressing. Toss to coat. Place salad in the refrigerator for an hour if you plan to serve cold, or serve immediately of you plan to serve hot.  Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint for added color.


* Beets have a beautiful and non-toxic color.  Use beet juice instead of red food coloring, blot beet juice on lips and cheeks for all natural color Smile