Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chia Overnight Oats

Lately I’ve been obsessed with adding chia seeds to my food. Chia seeds are packed with nutrition. High in fiber, antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids and versatile in the way they can used, chia seeds are a great choice for anyone looking to add more nutrition to their meals. If you’ve never tried chia seeds or you’re confused about how to use them, have no fear. To make chia seeds edible, just soak in water or your favorite non-dairy milk, coconut water, or freshly made juice. For each tablespoon of chia seeds used, add two tablespoons of liquid. Let soak for several hours (overnight works best), and voila, your chia seeds are ready to be enjoyed. Chia seeds go great when added to smoothies, baked goods like muffins and granola bars, and my personal favorite, oatmeal. One of my favorite ways to make oatmeal and chia seeds together is in overnight oats. This involves soaking the oats and the chia seeds in liquid (along with other yummy additions) to make a tasty, easy meal that requires no microwaving or heating. Here’s the recipe for my favorite chia seed overnight oats. This recipe is so complete in nutrition and taste, I didn’t feel the need to add any additional sugars 🙂

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Chia Seed Overnight OatsIMG_8459

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup soymilk (or nondairy milk)
  • 3-4 tbsp. water
  • 1.5 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced or blended/smushed
  • a drop or two of vanilla extract (optional)
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter (the less firm, the better, so if you refrigerate your natural PB, take it out of the fridge beforehand)
  • (optional) 2 tbsp. granola (for topping)

Directions:

  • In a large mason jar, or bowl, measure and combine oats, soymilk, water, and chia seeds. Mix so that all the oats and chia seeds are mixed together and can move around in the liquid
  • Slice or mash the banana, and add to the jar/bowl
  • Add cinnamon and vanilla extract, if desired (this adds some flavor)
  • Mix in 1 tbsp. of peanut butter.
  • Add a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Make sure that everything is mixed well
  • Put a lid on the jar or top the bowl with a piece of saran wrap/cover and let sit overnight or for about 8-10 hours
  • Remove from the fridge, remove lid/cover, add 2 tbsp. of your favorite granola for a topping (optional)
  • Enjoy!

-Jess

Crunchy Kale and Nut Salad

If you live in New York, this past weekend you were most likely stuck indoors due to the snow. This past weekend during the blizzard, I was supposed to be teaching my first donation-based yoga class, but that just wasn’t going to happen due to the weather, so my yoga class has been rescheduled for next month. If you read my last post about yoga, you know how excited I am about teaching this class! Getting back to being stuck inside, one of my favorite ways to pass the time when stuck inside is to cook. Or in my case, un-cook. I love kale and I especially love kale salads. The following kale salad will satisfy a crunchy craving and supply a good dose of healthy fats and fiber. It’s vegan, and if you use gluten-free soy sauce (tamari or shoyu) it can also be gluten free.

Crunchy Kale and Nut Salad FullSizeRender-14

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish, 2 if served as a main dish)

Salad

  • 4-5 cups kale, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 a cucumber, diced
  • 1 carrot, shaved into slices or diced
  • 1/2 cup slivered raw almonds

Dressing (makes several servings, refrigerate and save remaining dressing)

  • 1/4 cup tahini (hulled sesame paste, can be found at most health food stores)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp. water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

 

Directions

  • For the salad, cut veggies and set kale in a large bowl. Massage olive oil onto kale using your hands so that the kale becomes softened. Add veggies and slivered almonds.
  • For the dressing, measure and whisk together ingredients in a large bowl until uniform. Add 4 tablespoons of the dressing to the salad and mix with a large spoon. There will be a large amount of dressing leftover. Store the remaining dressing in a sealed cup or bowl and use within a few days.
  • Share with friends and enjoy!

 

-Jess

Very Vegan Mac & Cheese

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, in the past I’ve deviated from a vegan diet due to cravings for animal protein. The more I learn about nutrition, the more apparent it’s become to me that we are all unique and the most important thing is to listen to your own body while being mindful of nutrition. It’s also important to not judge yourself when it comes to what you eat and instead be an observer of how your food makes you feel! Maybe you’re a vegan for ethical purposes but find yourself having an occasional craving for animal products. Take a look at your diet and see if you’re missing out on an important nutrient, like iron, protein, calcium or omega 3’s and then see if eating more plant sources of those nutrients alleviates some of your cravings (in my experience, that piece of advice really helped!).  Above all, always try your best, but know that “diet perfection” doesn’t exist.

One thing that I’ve also realized is that sometimes eating the same things can get really repetitive and can also lead to cravings for things that you wouldn’t normally eat. With this in mind, I decided to try my hand at making vegan macaroni and cheese because who doesn’t love a serving of comfort food every now and then? This recipe is actually a combination of a few recipes gathered from Daiya brand’s website and from a dish that my favorite health food store makes as one of their “hot lunch specials”. I put my own spin on it by adding some vegan mock-meat sausage for added protein and a spicy taste, but feel free to omit that component if you’re looking for a more classic mac and cheese taste.

Very Vegan Mac & Cheese (serves about 6-8)FullSizeRender-10

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. whole grain elbow macaroni (whole grains can be brown rice noodles or speciality gluten-free noodles if you’re following a gluten free diet)
  • One 16 oz. package of Daiya brand vegan cheddar style shreds
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2.5 cups unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
  • black pepper (I didn’t measure, just sprinkle at your discretion)
  • garlic powder (about 1 tsp)
  • paprika (about 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Field Roast Italian vegan sausages (omit if you’re following a GF diet)
  • Breadcrumbs or oat bran (to use as a topping. Omit if you’re following a GF diet)

Directions:

  • Boil water in a large pot (big enough to fit an entire 16 oz. package of macaroni)
  • Once the water has come to a rolling boil, allow macaroni to cook until tender
  • Remove the pot from the stove and drain the macaroni, set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the vegan buttery spread on low heat.
  • While the buttery spread melts, cut up the Field Roast vegan sausage into small pieces and cook in a separate saucepan on low heat until brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add the nutritional yeast and pepper to the vegan buttery spread saucepan.
  • Add the almond milk to the above saucepan.
  • Add the Daiya cheddar shreds to the above saucepan. Use a spoon to mix on low-medium heat.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Once the Daiya cheddar shreds have melted, turn off the heat.
  • In a large oven-safe casserole dish, mix the drained macaroni and Field Roast vegan sausage. Add the vegan cheese mixture and use a spoon to make sure that the macaroni is evenly topped with vegan cheese.
  • Top the mixture with breadcrumbs or oat bran.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!

The most beautiful melty, "cheesy", non-dairy meal I've ever had!

The most beautiful melty, “cheesy”, non-dairy meal I’ve ever had!

-Jess

Green Garden Vegan Alfredo

I was inspired to make this dish because of two things 1. I really wanted to somehow recreate a canned version of vegan alfredo sauce that I once tried, and 2. I spent the day in my grandma’s garden and came home with a bunch of fresh produce ready to be put into one of my kitchen creations!

Tomatoes fresh off the vine!

Tomatoes fresh off the vine!

The following recipe might take some time to cook, but it’s worth it!

The Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup yellow onion, thinly chopped
  • ¼ cup (or less) unsweetened, plain soy milk
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • several leaves of fresh basil, or ½ tsp. dried basil
  • several leaves of fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup raw, soaked whole cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

Directions:

  • Before starting anything, soak the raw cashews in a bowl with warm water for a few hours.
  • Well, don’t just sit there. Find something to do during those few hours 😉
  • Chop the onion and garlic
  • Add olive oil to a large pan, and add onion and garlic. Cook on low heat.
  • In a blender, blend the cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs together. If needed, add a little of the soaking water into the cashew/herb mixture to blend into a very thick liquid
  • Add the cashew mixture to the pan containing the oil, garlic, and onion. To obtain a thick, creamy mixture, add a little plain soymilk and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low until the mixture is a thick liquid, uniform in texture.

The Veggies (to sautée):

  • ¾ cup cut baby bella mushrooms (or use regular large portabella mushrooms and cut into small pieces)
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, each one halved
  • several leaves of fresh basil

Directions:

  • Use non-stick cooking spray or a tsp. or two of olive oil to grease a pan
  • Add onion and garlic, and cook on low-heat
  • As the onion and garlic cook, add in mushrooms, kale, and halved baby tomatoes
  • Cook for a few minutes and for the last minute or so, heat the basil in the pan (there will be some discoloration of the basil as it cooks, that’s ok!)

The Pasta

  • 4 oz. of your favorite fettucine noodles. I used a special edamame-flour noodle found at a specialty health food store (that I happen to work at), but feel free to use whole wheat fettucine, brown rice fettuicine, etc.
  • Boil water in a pot, and cook noodles until tender.
  • Drain when done and allow a few minutes to pass so that all the moisture drains.

The Final Product

IMG_6883

Add the veggies to the pasta and fold in the alfredo sauce. Serve on a plate or bowl and top with basil leaves. Add pepper to taste and enjoy!

-Jess

Eat Local: Mexican Inspired Summer Salad

One of the best things about summer is that it’s a great time to use ingredients that are grown locally. Shopping at farmers markets and stores that support community agriculture is one way to live healthier for yourself and for the planet. The following recipe was inspired by local tomatoes, corn, and beets. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, and makes a great main course, side dish, and can also be used as a dip or cracker topping. Whichever way you eat it, enjoy it!

Mexican Inspired Simple Summer SaladIMG_6567

Ingredients:

  • 2 beets, peeled
  • 1 ear of corn, cut off the cob (note: I didn’t cook the corn I used, but if you want, you can also boil it along with the beets).
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can of black blacks, drained
  • juice of 1 lime
  • cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot, and while you’re waiting, peel the beets and cut the other ingredients. The avocado and tomato can be diced or cubed. Remove the corn from the cob and set aside ingredients.
  • Place the beets in the boiling water and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
  • Remove the beets from the boiling water and allow to cool. Then, cube the beets using a knife.
  • Drain the black beans, and mix the corn, beets, tomato, and avocado together.
  • Add the lime and orange juice, salt and pepper, and optional cilantro. Allow to marinate for a bit (the amount of time is completely up to you!)
  • Enjoy as a main course by adding this to taco shells, or enjoy as a side dish.

-Jess

Over the Moon for Overnight Oats

If you’re like me, you rarely have time to eat a complete meal in the morning, or if you do, it feels rushed. Enter the genius concept of overnight oats. No longer will you feel frazzled as you try to prepare something healthy in the early hours of the AM, because you’re going to do it the night before (muah-ha-ha…that’s my attempt at evil laughing). These oats are packed with fiber from the oats, fruit, and chia seeds, along with some plant-based protein, and healthy fats.

Overnight Oats with Fruit, Chia Seeds, and Almond Butter 

IMG_5558

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, uncooked
  • 2/3 cup soy milk or almond milk (or your favorite milk/nondairy milk)
  • 1 tbsp. uncooked chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup berries of your choice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of a banana
  • (optional) sprinkle cinnamon

Directions *important- do this the day/night before you plan to eat this*

  • In a mason jar or bowl, add oats, then soy milk (or other milk), and chia seeds, stir. If the oats still seem dry, add a little more soy milk (or other milk)
  • Add fruit, and sprinkle cinnamon (if desired), stir mixture
  • Cover the mason jar or bowl
  • Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for at least 10 hours (preferably 12)
  • The next morning, uncover your oat creation and add a tablespoon of your favorite almond or other nut butter
  • Enjoy!

This is a breakfast I’ve been eating lately and it makes my morning meal prep super easy because all I have to do is remove from the fridge and add a little AB (almond butter). The oats will be fluffy and ready to eat without microwaving, which makes this a great morning meal for the summer months (because who wants to eat a hot meal when its 90 degrees out. Not this girl!).  I look forward to sharing more of my healthy meal ideas as soon as my spring semester winds down!

-Jess

Falafel With A Green Twist

Hello readers! It’s been almost a month since I last posted. As you can tell, I’ve been pretty busy! I started the spring semester in late january and my yoga teacher training is almost done (although, I still have a lot of work to do, including a yoga practical and teaching a class on my own!). This semester is jam-packed for me because I decided to double-up on credits, so I’m actually taking double the amount of graduate courses I’m expected to…whoops! Since this blog isn’t about my academic career, I’ll switch gears now and talk about the delicious recipes I’ve been cooking up. Having limited time has actually made me become a little more creative when it comes to cooking, which is good, because as any busy vegan can tell you, microwaved veggie burgers can get awfully boring after a while.

Falafel has been a favorite food of mine, and it’s my go-to order at any middle-eastern restaurant. I decided to create my own healthier version of falafel, with added collard greens into the mixture. This recipe is tasty, easy, and not too labor intensive, so have fun and enjoy!

My new favorite collard greens falafel with a nice amount of hummus in a wrap

My new favorite collard greens falafel with a nice amount of hummus in a wrap

Ingredients (makes about 9 falafel balls/patties)

  • 1 fifteen oz. can of chickpeas
  • 3 large collard leaves, stems removed
  • 3 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or other whole-grain flour
  • 3 tbsp. oil (for the pan)

Directions

  • Combine chickpeas, collard greens, spices, and flour in a food processor and process until you have a uniform mixture (about a minute or two of total food processing time). If you don’t have a food processor, you can try using a blender but the food processor is your best bet for this recipe.
  • Pour oil into the pan
  • Spoon out chickpea mixture into ball shapes and onto the pan and cook on medium heat
  • Allow each chickpea ball to lightly brown and then flip on each side
  • If you find that the chickpea balls aren’t cooking all the way through, feel free to flatten them a bit to create more of a “patty” than a ball. Don’t worry, it will still taste just as good!
  • After cooking, allow to cool, and then enjoy in a wrap, pita, or with a generous helping of hummus (or your favorite dip!)

-Jess

Falling for a Fall Recipe

I think fall is officially my favorite season in terms of seasonal produce. If you’ve read previous posts, you know that I love pumpkin. I also love kale, spaghetti squash, and tofu seems to be my go-to source of protein as of late. So what better way to enjoy my favorites than combine them in an incredibly nutritious, seasonal recipe. The following recipe is high in protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and doesn’t take too long to cook either. If you don’t have fresh pumpkin, feel free to use canned (just make sure you’re using pure pumpkin puree).

Spaghetti Squash with Pumpkin-Crusted Tofu and Kale (serves 2-3)photo-47

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash (if you’re unfamiliar with what it looks like, it’s yellow and kind of football-shaped)
  • 3 cups kale
  • 6 oz. firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup onions
  • 1 cup pumpkin (softened and then pureed using a food processor/blender. Alternatively, use canned pumpkin. Honestly, I used canned pumpkin and it worked well)
  • juice of one lemon
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or regular soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • fresh or dried ginger (about 1-2 tsp.)

Directions:

  • Cut the spaghetti squash in half (the long way). Take a sharp fork or piercing device and poke holes to aerate the squash during cooking.
  • Place the squash halves (soft side facing up) in a microwave safe dish and add  1 cup of water, dividing half of the water beneath the squash and the remaining water poured into the exposed soft sides of the squash. Cover with either a piece of paper towel or press and seal wrap.
  • Heat in the microwave for 12 minutes
  • As the spaghetti squash is cooking, cut, drain, and dry tofu into smaller pieces (the size of the tofu depends on your preference)
  • Combine measured, soft pumpkin with tamari/soy sauce, olive oil, lemon and orange juices, vinegar, and ginger
  • Spread the pumpkin mixture over the tofu so that each piece if saturated in the mixture. You can also marinate the tofu in this mixture overnight for more flavor
  • As you let the tofu sit in the pumpkin mixture for a few minutes, cut the kale and onions into smaller pieces
  • In a large saucepan, spray the bottom with a little spray oil or lightly oil the pan and then add the tofu/pumpkin mixture, kale, and onions. Cook on a low-medium heat setting, just so the tofu is lightly browned and the kale and onions have softened
  • After the squash has finished cooking, remove from the microwave and allow to cool. *Important to keep in mind: the squash is going to be extra hot, especially as you remove the squash “innards” (my weird little name for the spaghetti-like insides). Take this time to taste the tofu-pumpkin/kale combo and feel free to adjust any spices, oils, or accompaniments that you feel would complement the dish.
  • After the squash has cooled a bit, take a fork and remove seeds. The rest of the spaghetti-like strands should be easy to remove. Place on a plate and top with the pumpkin-tofu, kale, and onions.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!

 

-Jess

 

 

Roasted Veggie One-Layer Lasagna

For the past few weeks (up until now), I haven’t been inspired to cook anything exciting but I am excited about something…my classes for fall semester start next week! I’m excited because it means I’m one step closer to my master’s and the beginning of my career. On a food-note-I wanted to make a dish for the next few days so that when I come home, I can just heat this up for an easy lunch or dinner (or healthy midnight snack). The following recipe is chock full of nutrients in the form of root veggies and whole grains. You can also roast some green veggies, like kale or brussels sprouts and add them to this recipe (which I didn’t do, but just thought would taste amazing). If you’re not a vegan, feel free to add some cheese, but this version I made is vegan.

photo 3-11Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 6 sheets/pieces of whole grain lasagna
  • 2 large beets, chopped into cubes in a size to your liking
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1.5 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil or olive oil (but not extra virgin olive oil, because this is going in the oven)
  • 1 additional carrot to be grated
  • pepper, to taste
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit
  • Place chopped veggies, pepper, and 1 tbsp. oil in an oven safe dish and mix so that the oil covers the veggies
  • Roast veggies at 400 degrees for 30 minutes
  • While the veggies are roasted, boil a large pot of water
  • When the water comes to a boil, place sheets of lasagna in water. Don’t break them to allow them to be fully submerged, just wait until half of them become pliable enough to fit entirely in the water.
  • After 8-12 minutes, the pasta should be ready.
  • Remove from stove and drain. Then, pat dry or lay them across a surface to dry
  • Remove the roasted veggies from the oven after 30 minutes
  • Grease another oven-safe dish and then lay three of the lasagna sheets down on the dish
  • Add a layer of tomato sauce to the lasagna sheets
  • Add most of the roasted veggies and sprinkle garlic powder, add 1 tbsp. oil, and another layer of tomato sauce if desired
  • Add the second layer of lasagna sheets (you should have three remaining) on top of the roasted veggies/tomato sauce mixture
  • Add one more layer of tomato sauce on top, and (optional) a few more roasted veggies on top of the sauce
  • Grate a carrot using a cheese grater and add on top (like you would with cheese)
  • Stick in the oven at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool, and serve (or save for later)
  • Enjoy!

-Jess

An Ode to Oats

A while ago, I wrote a post about several different ways to prepare oats. Tonight, I was hungry, but didn’t really feel like cooking an elaborate meal. I also had a bunch of veggies that I wanted to use, so I decided to make a savory oat recipe that combines veggies, whole grains, and a good helping of plant-based protein and healthy fats. Next time you’re craving something filling yet quick, try this recipe. Oats are a great grain to use because they’re rich in fiber and leave you feeling full for quite a while. They’re also so easy to make and mild in flavor on their own, so think beyond breakfast when it comes to oats.

This dish might not win any awards for being visually pleasing, but it is sure to leave your belly satisfied!

This dish might not win any awards for being visually pleasing, but it is sure to leave your belly satisfied!

Ingredients (serves 1 hungry person, or 2 people):

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (gluten-free oats are also an option, if you’re following a gluten-free diet)
  • 1/2 cup black beans (drained of excess water and salt)
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms, bell peppers, or whatever veggies you have available
  • 1 cup spinach, or other leafy green
  • guacamole (or avocado slices)
  • red pepper hummus (optional), you can also use salsa if available
  • non-stick spray or 1-2 tsp. olive oil

Directions:

  • Spray a pan with nonstick spray oil (or pour some olive oil on a pan), chop up veggies, and allow to cook on medium heat
  • Measure oats and place in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the suggested amount of water listed on the box. Heat for about 3 minutes in the microwave (but watch the bowl, because sometimes oats like to overflow and then you’ll be spending some time cleaning your microwave. Not fun!)
  • When the veggies have lightly browned, add 1/2 cup black beans to heat them up (canned beans don’t really need to be cooked) for a few minutes
  • Remove the pan of veggies and beans from the stove
  • Remove the oats from the microwave and combine the two
  • Add hummus, guacamole, salsa, or whatever you think would complement this dish well. Get creative and enjoy!

-Jess