Kidney Bean Tacos for a Cause

Can we just taco ’bout how good Mexican food is? I love using Mexican flavors in my cooking, especially when I want to make something healthy taste amazingly flavorful and spicy. I’ve been wanting to make vegan tacos for a while and I’ve also wanted to share a recipe using kidney beans because one of my friends is involved with raising funds for the National Kidney Foundation’s kidney walk on May 22nd on Long Island and what better way to show my support for raising awareness for kidney disease than with a little play on words (for the record, I’ll be at the kidney walk too and if you live on Long Island, come support by walking!). For more info on the kidney walk and kidney disease, please follow me on instagram @vitaminvalentine where I’ll have a link to register for the walk.

Although this recipe was specifically made using kidney beans, if you don’t have any, you can substitute black beans, pinto beans, or whatever you have in stock. If you’re not a fan of tofu, you can use seitan, tempeh, or whatever you’d like.

Kidney Bean Tacos (serves 2)FullSizeRender-16

Ingredients

  • 1/2 can kidney beans, or 3/4 cup dry kidney beans
  • 5 oz. extra firm tofu (or substitute with another protein)
  • 4 small soft-shell corn tortillas (I bought the ones I used at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder (regular)
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. oil (for the pan)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil as dressing
  • salsa, pico de gallo (I bought two varieties at TJ’s, but if you have a salsa recipe you like, feel free to use that)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes or sliced grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp. red onion, diced

Directions

  • Drain the beans and press the excess water out of the tofu. Slice tofu into smaller pieces
  • Dice red onions
  • In a saute pan, add 2 tsp. oil and add onions and tofu. Add in spices (chili powders, garlic powder) and lime juice as the tofu and onions simmer on low heat
  • Add beans as tofu starts to brown
  • As the tofu and beans cook, in a bowl, massage olive oil onto the kale
  • To the bowl of kale, add cilantro, tomatoes, and a sprinkle of salt
  • Slice the avocado
  • Microwave (or if you really want to be authentic, steam) the taco shells for ~30 seconds
  • Remove the bean and tofu mixture from the stove when all the lime juice is absorbed and beans and tofu are lightly coated with spices
  • Place the taco shells on plates
  • Add the beans and tofu, then add the kale salad mixture
  • Top with sliced avocado and salsas of your preference
  • Enjoy with some corn tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole 🙂

-Jess

Spring Super Smoothie

Today is the first day of spring and I’m excited! I love spring because it signifies new beginnings. As you go through your day today, try to meditate on what it is you’d like to start doing today, this week, this month, this season, or even this year. Now is a great time to dive into some exciting plans to improve your life.

For me personally, I’m going to try to eat more greens everyday. Even though I do eat vegetables every day, I’ve noticed that I could incorporate more nutrient-dense greens into my favorite meals. To get started on my new goal, I’ve created a deliciously healthy smoothie packed with nutrition. This is a green smoothie similar to what I’ve posted in much earlier blog posts but with a few twists. Feel free to try this smoothie and give me some feedback because I love hearing from my readers! You can email me, write a comment, or get in touch via facebook or instagram @vitaminvalentine 🙂

Spring Super SmoothieIMG_8842

  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup frozen or fresh mango
  • 6 oz. plain So Delicious Greek Coconut Yogurt (this is my favorite non-dairy yogurt because it has extra fiber and a unique texture that is great for smoothies, but if you prefer a different kind, use whatever you’d like)
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla almondmilk
  • 1 tsp. spirulina powder (optional)

Cut and prepare fruits and kale. Measure almond milk and other ingredients. Add all to a blender and blend well until liquified. This smoothie is on the thick side, so if you want, you can add water or a little more almond milk. This can either serve one or two people depending on how hungry you are. Enjoy and keep in mind: what can you start doing today?

-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

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

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

 

 

Adventures In Spirulina Smoothies

Lately I’ve been creating different smoothies because my schedule is so packed and having a liquified lunch is one way to get a ton of nutrients without spending too much time with food prep. My favorite new addition to my smoothies is spirulina, which is a blue-green algae that supplies a source of complete protein, vitamin K, vitamin A, B vitamins, and essential fatty acids (omega 3 & omega 6). You can find spirulina in any health food store in the supplement aisle. Although it’s not what one would call “delicious”, it’s nutritional profile makes it worth it, plus you can mask the taste by adding to a green smoothie with some fruit. Here’s the basic recipe for the spirulina smoothie I’ve been experimenting with.photo-46

Spirulina Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana, cut into smaller pieces, or 1 fresh (unfrozen) banana + 3 ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup berries (strawberries taste pretty good in this recipe)
  • 1 cup vanilla coconut milk or almond milk
  • 1 tsp. spirulina
  • 1 cup chopped, raw kale, spinach, or other leafy green

 

In a blender, add ingredients and blend together until a smooth, liquid consistency is achieved. Pour into your favorite glass and enjoy!

 

-Jess

Farm to Table: Kale and Pumpkin Sauce

photo-43

When I’m not working on this blog, taking notes in class, or at work, I also volunteer for a cause that I’m passionate about: supporting local agriculture! Living on Long Island for most of my life has given me a huge appreciation for the local farmers that dedicate their lives to providing communities with real, fresh, sustainably-raised produce. Because of this, I spend time helping out at a Farmers’ Market where we sell all types of fresh fruits and veggies planted on Long Island. This past weekend, I picked up some kale (among other nutritious goodies) and was thinking about possible recipes I could come up with. I looked in my cupboard and saw that I had a can of pumpkin (it would be even better if I had fresh pumpkin, but it’s not late enough in the season for that). I decided to combine the two to make an awesome, delicious sauce that I’m sharing today. I made this sauce up as I went along, so feel free to adjust it based on your tastebuds.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups of kale (raw), chopped
  • 1 twelve-ounce can of pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix in a can!)
  • 1 cup unsweetened, plain almond milk, rice milk, or soy milk
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped, or 2-3 tsp. dry basil
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano (I didn’t have fresh oregano, but if you have it, use it)
  • a dash of salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. of nutmeg (this is optional, nutmeg complements pumpkin really well, but if you don’t have any on hand, don’t worry about it!)

 

Directions

  • Finely chop garlic and use non-stick spray to grease a pan on low-medium heat
  • Allow garlic to sizzle a little
  • While garlic is cooking, use blender to combine kale and unsweetened non-dairy milk until uniform
  • Add 12 ounces of pumpkin and the kale/non-dairy milk mixture to the pan containing the garlic
  • Continuing to stir on low-medium heat, add olive oil, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and nutmeg for 10 minutes or until warm and uniform in color and texture
  • Prepare your favorite pasta, rice, or protein and use this sauce to add an unexpectedly delightful feast your body and tastebuds will equally enjoy! I roasted some veggies and made some sprouted grain fettucine, but the possibilities are endless with a little imagination.

-Jess

Updates & a Green Juice Recipe!

Hello Readers! I’ve been so busy with classes but I realized I haven’t posted in almost two weeks, so I’m making this post a combination of some personal updates and a green juice recipe. It’s the end of the semester for me, so these past few weeks have been all about school and trying to focus on that aspect of my life. Another exciting thing for me is that I got a juicer! I already have a blender and I make smoothies with it, but now that I have a juicer it opens up a whole new arena for creativity in the kitchen, plus an excellent way to add even more nutrition to my diet. Although many people swear by juice fasts and juice cleanses, I’m not taking that approach, and instead I’m adding juice to my diet as an additional source of fruits and veggies.

The recipe below is my first juice that I made using some fruits and veggies that were already in my fridge. What’s fun about making juice is that you can get creative and experiment and learn what fruits and veggies go together, and which definitely don’t. Luckily, my first attempt went well.

 

Jess’s First Juice

2 stalks of celery

2 kiwis

1/4 of a head of broccoli

1 cup kale

an orange

I used a wide-mouth juicer and got about 12 ounces from this recipe. It packs a huge amount of vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and phytonutrients, so drink up and enjoy!

IMG_2977

 

Keep checking back soon for more recipes, updates, and nutrition news!

 

-Jess