Friday, April 26, 2013

Herbed Goddess Dressing


As April winds down, I hope that everyone has had a good dose of sunshine, showers, and satisfying vegan food!  Earth Day always surprises me in April with a renewed sense of possibilities.  Maybe it is the budding of new flowers or the the change in seasons and shedding of our heavy winter coats, but Earth Day always makes me feel like I have a fresh start and a new chance to improve myself.  This year, my fresh start includes eating more raw foods, at least two raw meals a day, lots and lots of flowers, and a daily fitness routine.  There is nothing like spring to remind us that summer is just around the corner and since I love to eat, I know that eating raw foods will allow me to eat all I want and still lose weight and get in shape for summer.  I usually eat oatmeal for breakfast when the weather is cold outside but now that it is warming up, eating fruit for breakfast isn't only easy, the seasonal goodies in my kitchen are just begging me to do so.  Recently, I read this article on eating fruit for breakfast and it has encouraged me to reach for those berries and bananas instead of bread and butter first thing in the a.m.  Everyone is different and some people swear that they need something more solid for breakfast but for me fruit is the best way to go.  Something light, fresh, and hydrating like a fruit salad, smoothie, or raw fruit cake always gives me more energy and makes me feel less bloated and more hydrated ALL day long. This morning I had this yummy fruit plate that took mere minutes to prepare.
I encourage everyone to try to eat more fruit for breakfast and feel the refreshing and invigorating benefits of a raw and color filled wake up call. Then for lunch or dinner I aim for salad.  If I have fruit for breakfast and then a salad for lunch, it better be one tasty salad to make me feel satisfied.  So, I aim to only post salads that are incredible and beyond my wildest dreams.  A good way to start sinless salad satisfaction is to master a few good dressings.  Therefore, I give you my Goddess Dressings.  A series of kitchen experiments gone right and made until they are blog-worthy, yum-worthy, and main dish salad-worthy.  This  first dressing is my Herbed Goddess Dressing that is insanely fresh.  Not just fresh but blow your mind, infuse your cells, and rock your mood fresh that'll leave you happy and blissfull all day.  Worthy of a goddess.  Since I believe all happy, healthy women are goddesses then I gladly name this dressing after the girls and gals that will enjoy and thrive on this delish dish. 

Herbed Goddess Dressing
  • 1 cup cashews
  • Juice of one small lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chives, chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1.5 teaspoon raw honey

  • Place cashews, water, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar in blender and blend until smooth.  Add the herbs, tamari, and honey and blend again until smooth.  Will keep refrigerated for about a week.  If you would like your dressing smoother, add a touch more water.  If you would like to make a dip, add 1/2 cup more cashew and refrigerate for an hour.  Oh the joy of effortless dressings that are fresh and not store bought!! Yum!

    Right now I live across the bridge from an Indian reservation and I have started to do volunteer work with the tribe to help the community.  Recently, I have been doing volunteer hours at the library and one day I happened upon a book of local, edible plant life.  I hit the trails behind my house, book in hand, and was amazed at how much vegetation is edible.  I had started to notice these pretty little yellow blooms in lots of the shrubs along the trails and in my yard.  Turns out they are Oregon grapes and the blossoms are edible!  More than edible, they taste like orange nectar!!
    A perfect and tasty way to celebrate Earth Day is to eat local.  Can you possibly get more local than right in your own backyard?  Heck, no!  I gathered a bunch of these little flowers and added them to a salad of local and organic veggies.

    This salad includes tender greens, persian cucumber, golden beets, carrots, avocado, tomato, and Oregon grape blossoms.  It was so good and tastes as refreshing as it looks.  Herbs will infuse loads of flavor and freshness to whatever you put them in.  This dressing is the perfect choice for any salad and I hope you enjoy it!  I had my salad alongside a glass of my citrus infused water.  I just sliced orange, lemon, and lime and put them in water.  Chill for an hour and you will have a homemade vitamin water/hint water!
    If you enjoyed this blog or know someone who might, please feel free to share.  All recipes are free and made with love and the hope that a peaceful, plant-based planet is in our future!  Check back for more Goddess recipes or follow Venturing Vegan on instagram and facebook for daily doses of plant-based inspiration. 

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Ginger Miso Salad Dressing

    Ginger salad
    Rarely do I ever buy salad dressings at the store.  Even with the basics, I can whip up a quick balsamic, vinaigrette, or a simple olive oil, lemon juice, and salt n pepper dressing.  When you buy premade dressing, they usually have lots of sugar in them and they just don’t taste fresh.  I used to think dressings required lots of time and ingredients but once you’ve made one or two, you can make a decent dressing with pretty much anything you have on hand.  Ginger salad dressing has always been a favorite of mine since I first tried it at a Japanese restaurant.  Since I like to keep mine as unrefined and sugar free as possible, this Miso Ginger dressing requires zero added sugar and is simply divine.  The sweetness and added orange color comes from carrots!  This will instantly become a favorite in your house if you love ginger as much as I do.  Once you’ve made it, you’ll see how easy it is to make incredible, healthy and fresh dressings at home!  This dressing will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.

    Ginger dressing prepThe picture above shows the basic ingredients I use to make a variety of ginger dressings.  This dressing calls for miso which is pictured below.  You can see how the combination of a few staples like soy sauce, rice vinegar, oil and a few fresh ingredients like carrots, ginger, or green onions can make a delicious dressing.  The combinations are endless and with time, you will master combinations and come up with your own favorites.  In the meantime, allow me to share my favorite with you!
    Miso Ginger Salad Dressing

    Miso Ginger  Salad Dressing
    1/4 cup Grape Seed oil (you can use olive oil but will slightly alter the flavor)
    1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
    3 tablespoons White Miso Paste
    1 tablespoon Dark Sesame Oil
    1 inch fresh Ginger, minced (add more if you really want a strong ginger flavor)
    2-3 medium sized Carrots, roughly chopped for blender
    Salt and Pepper to taste
    Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!  Below is a picture of this tasty ginger dressing over a garden salad and served alongside lentil dal and vegetable korma.  Delish!

    Ginger Salad, Lentil Dal, Veggie Korma

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013

    Classic Lasagna

    Words cannot describe how incredible this lasagna is.  If you’re thinking vegan might be too tough or not filling enough, this dish will more than satisfy even the most hardcore meat lover.  The tofu cashew ricotta is inspired by Vegan Artisan Cheese and is absolutely like the “real”thing.  When I first became vegan after having been vegetarian since I was 9 years old, cheese was the hardest to give up.  We have receptor sites in our brain that respond to the casein in dairy, the same sites also respond to morphine!  Yep, that’s right, cheese is as addictive as morphine!  No wonder this “dairy crack” is such a pleasure trigger when we eat it, even though we know it is loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat.  Kicking the habit was hard, very, very hard.  When I went vegan 5 years ago, the vegan cheese options and recipes were extemely limited.  This lasagna would have saved me many a night of crazy cheese cravings.  I hope this lasagna warms your heart and fills you with fond memories of eating the not-so-vegan version around the dinner table as a kid.  Enjoy!

    Classic Lasagna
    8 sheets lasagna pasta
    1 jar organic tomato sauce
    1/4 cup zucchini, sliced to bite-sized half moons
    4 cups spinach
    1/2  medium onion, sliced
    1/4 cup green bell pepper, seeded and sliced to bite-sized
    1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped to bite-sized
    1 carrot, sliced
    salt and pepper to taste
    Tofu Cashew Ricotta Ingredients:
    1 package organic firm or medium firm tofu, pressed
    1/2 cup raw cashews
    1/2 cup water
    2 cloves garlic
    2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
    good squeeze of lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
    Parmesan Topping:
    1/4 cup raw cashew, grated to look like parmesan

    lasagna ingredients
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    1. Bring a stock pot of water to boil.  In the meantime, take the pressed (to press tofu, wrap in kitchen towels and press the water out by covering with a heavy book, or object for about ten minutes to remove the water) tofu and crumble it into a bowl.  Crumble well.
    2.  Into a blender, add the cashews and water and blend.  Then add the garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and blend until smooth.  Add cashew puree to tofu and mix together so that it resembles ricotta.
    3.  Once the water is to boil, drop in four sheets of lasagna at a time.  Cook according to package, usually about 6 minutes until slightly al dente. Set aside to cool before handling.
    4.  In a medium sized sauté pan, add the onion, broccoli, zucchini, carrot and bell pepper over medium heat.  (I’ve not added oil to reduce fat content.  The vegetables will release their own juices while cooking and shouldn’t stick.  However, if you want to add oil, a tablespoon of olive oil should do the trick).  Sauté for about 5 minutes then add the spinach.  Stir in the spinach and cook until lightly wilted.  Remove from heat and set aside.  The vegetables will continue their cooking process in the oven.
    lasagna veggies
    5.  Into a baking dish, spoon about 1/4 cup of tomato sauce onto the bottom of the pan.  Then add your fist layer of lasagna noodles.  After the noodles go down, spoon the tofu cashew ricotta in a thin layer.  Next add the veggies as the next layer.

    lasagna layer 1lasagna layer 2lasagna layer 3

    6.  On top of the veggies, add more tomato sauce. Next, lay down another layer of 4 lasagna sheets.  On top of that, another layer of tomato sauce.  Make sure to take the sauce to the edges to prevent the lasagna from sticking to the pan while it bakes.  Place the lasagna uncovered into the oven for 30 minutes.
    7.  After the lasagna has cooked for 30 minutes, pull it out.  Add the cashew parmesan to the top.  Pop it back in the oven to brown.  This should be about 7 to 10 minutes more.  Then remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving.  It will look something like this…
    finished lasagna

    If you want a little kick, (yes, I love everything spicy) add a nice shake or two of cayenne on top!!  The plated lasagna is pictured with a quick side salad of kale.  Massage kale with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper for a quick side.
    I hope you enjoy making this dish!  Please let me know how it works out for you, comments are always welcome Smile

    Monday, April 1, 2013

    Quick Vegan Pie Dough/Crust

    Spring always makes me think of flowers, picnics, tea time, and light lunches.  Leaving winter behind, Spring ushers in a new season of color, fruits, vegetables, and light eats.  Quick quiches and fruit pies are abundant in the Spring and no Fourth of July would be complete without an apple pie.  This year, since 2013 is my year to welcome more raw eats, I will be making baked pies as well as raw pies for all occasions.  Since I consider quiche to be a savory pie, this crust coincides with my Sundried Tomato and Spinach Quiche recipe.  However, this light and flakey crust is perfect for pot pies, fruit pies, and tarts.  This was my first go swapping elbow grease for electric power and I now love my food processor even more than before.  This recipe is a quick, vegan, dough made in a food processor.  The dough blade of your processor will give the dough the perfect amount of kneading necessary for the ideal crust that we loved as non-vegans. 
    April will be my first Spring on Bainbridge Island and the abundance of tulips, hyacinth, and daffodils were a welcome surprise.  The little Pacific Northwest Island isn’t only covered in rain, it’s covered in little drops of pink, purple, yellow and of course, tons of green!  Bulbs always remind me of travels in the Netherlands and the great tulip festivals of Holland.  If you ever have the chance to visit this island, Spring will not disappoint.  Grab a chair on a glorious sunny day and when the rain ceases to fall, grab a slice of pie and take in all the colors of spring. 
    Local gardeners are not the only ones making Spring bountiful!  The local farms are showing off their little lambs! So cute Smile  It is nice to see animals being treated so well and it a welcome reminder of why I never eat meat.  Aren’t they so much cuter alive than on someone plate!
    Basic Vegan Pie Dough/Crust
    This recipe will yield once crust suitable for a 9-inch pie pan.  For a covered pie, double the recipe.
    - 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
    - 1/2 cup coconut oil, solid (add more if needed)
    - 1 teaspoon salt
    - 1 tablespoon sugar (make sure your sugar is labeled vegan)
    - 1/3 cup ice water (more if needed)

    1. Into the bowl of the food processor fitted with the dough blade, add in the flour, salt and sugar.  Pulse to combine.
    2.  Add solid coconut oil and pulse until your mixture is crumbly and sticks together when you pinch it between two fingers.
    3. Pulse in the 1/3 cup of ice water.  More might be needed but we are aiming for is the dough to start to hold together.  It is perfectly alright to have a few or a lot of crumbles since this will make for a light flaky crust, but we want dough that sticks together well enough to easily roll into a ball.
    4.  Turn your dough onto a clean, lightly floured surface.  Roll your dough into a ball.  Using a rolling pin and a dash of elbow grease, roll the dough into a large circle.
    5.  Prepare your pie pan by placing a circle of parchment paper in the middle (this will help you remove you pie easily when done) and lightly grease.  Lay the dough over the pie pan.  Use scissors to cut away the excess.  If you are making a quiche, stop here.
    6.  If you are making a pie, this is the point where you fill your pie crust and then cover with another layer of crust.  I promise a post on pie to come soon!