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

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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

Trader Joe’s: A Friend to a Foodie

One of my favorite places to shop for food is Trader Joe’s. Unlike other health food/specialty stores, Trader Joe’s is affordable and not overwhelming. The limited size of all Trader Joe’s stores makes it easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. Often, I’ll go food shopping without a list (I like to live dangerously like that) and as soon as I enter a TJ’s I know I can find things I need…and many things I don’t necessary need (ahem, imposter nutella spread).

Here are the goods from today’s shopping trip

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Those muffins (see bottom right corner) are divine and are probably the healthiest store-made muffins I’ve ever come across. Each packs a good helping of berries (which make them easily perishable so store these in the fridge) and an ample serving of oats & other whole grains. I nibbled away on one after unpacking.

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I had so much to work with when considering what I should make for dinner, I opted to get creative and improvise a new recipe. Like most of the recipes I’ll be posting, it’s simple, doesn’t take a long time to prepare, and is satisfying and nutritious.

Polenta with Veggies & Quinoa

Serves 1 to 2 people

Ingredients needed:

  • 2 oz. Polenta (can be purchased in most conventional supermarkets in dry or refrigerated form. Polenta is a finely ground cornmeal that is super versatile)
  • 1-2 cups cremini mushrooms
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa or brown rice (quinoa is a grain that is high in fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients, but I like a variety of grains so I used both quinoa and brown rice tonight)
  • 1 cup water
  • sauce of your liking. I used Classico tomato sauce, because I will  put tomato sauce on basically anything (yes, I am Italian).
  • cooking spray
  1. Chop onions into a size that you find suitable. I like my onions sliced somewhat fine. The smaller the slices the more the flavor will disperse and pick up notes of the other ingredients. Chop the mushrooms into small slices as well.
  2. If you’re using refrigerated/pre-made polenta, slice a 2 oz. portion into cubes. If you’re using a dry form, follow the steps directed on the package or recipe. If you’re using a mix, the consistency (firm, like a pudding, or something in between) is up to you, but stick with a 2 oz. serving.
  3. Measure a 1/2 cup dry portion of quinoa (NOTE: If you’re using brown rice, prepare ahead of time, as it can take an hour for brown rice to thoroughly cook). Spray a pan with cooking spray and allow the quinoa to get warmed up for just a minute or two. Then add 1 cup of water (quinoa requires 1 cup of water to every 1/2 cup of grain used). Stir the quinoa around for a minute.
  4. As the quinoa cooks, coat another pan with cooking spray and allow the mushrooms and onions to lightly brown. Add in the polenta cubes and baby spinach for the final 2 minutes of cooking. Try to also keep an eye on the quinoa. If the quinoa appears to have absorbed all the water and is sticking to the pan, add more water by the tablespoon.
  5. After 10 minutes, the quinoa should be done. The outer layer of quinoa can be described as O-shaped and sometimes separates from the rest of the grain. This is fine, both parts are edible and equally enjoyable. If excess water remains, you can drain it using a colander.
  6. Determine what sauce/seasonings you want to accent your dish. I went with tomato sauce, but since this dish is so simple, any sauce/dressing would be appropriate.
  7. Make quinoa the base of your plate, add veggie/polenta mix, and top with sauce, cheese, etc. and ENJOY!

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