Organic Red Chard

Nuts Over My Chard

Is it weird to drink a new veggie before ever eating it?

I tried out a beautiful leaf of organic red chard today. I’ve never eaten chard before, but at the time of this photo, I was about to drink it!

Organic Red Chard

Organic Red Chard, about to go into the Vitamix

This turned out to be an excellent smoothie! It was light and nutty and didn’t taste green at all. I don’t mind green-tasting smoothies, but I’m also glad to whip up a few concoctions that don’t taste green. It didn’t look green, either.

Nutty Chard Green Smoothie

Nutty Chard Green Smoothie (that doesn’t look green)

The one big leaf equals a little over 1 cup of greens, which is about what I use in my single servings. It worked out well!

This makes about 1 quart total – 432 calories in one large serving, or 216 if you split it with a friend. You can swap the nuts for any variety you like – I’ve used walnuts, cashews, and even 1 scoop of PB2 in place of the nuts. It’s delicious every which way. (Different nuts or PB2 will affect the nutrition content – this info was generated based on walnuts). Full nutrition info follows the recipe.

Enjoy!

Nutty Chard Green Smoothie

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 0 minutes

Ingredients (1-2 servings)

  • 1 cup vanilla soymilk or other non-dairy milk
  • 1 leaf swiss chard (approximately 1 cup, packed)
  • 3 slices pineapple, round
  • 5 medium strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup walnuts or other nuts
  • 3 inch hunk of cucumber, peeled (about 1/4 of a medium cucumber)
  • 4-5 ice cubes

Instructions

Blend in a high powered blender or Vitamix until smooth, approximately 45 seconds.

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Breakfast Kickstart Juice

What is sweet and fruity with a boost of super greens? Breakfast kickstart juice!

Morning Kickstart in a Glass

Morning Kickstart in a Glass

This has become my favorite morning juice, sometimes replacing breakfast altogether. Tasty!

Breakfast Kickstart Juice

by Shelly Hokanson

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Keywords: juice beverage smoothie vegetarian vegan kale carrot cabbage pineapple

Ingredients (1 16oz serving or 2 8oz servin)

  • 1/4 of one pineapple
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 Golden Delicious or Royal Gala apples
  • 1 big handful of kale
  • 1 chunk of cabbage (approx 2″ x 2″)

Instructions

Prep

If your juicer is small, cut all ingredients into pieces that will fit into the chute of your juicer. Most juicers can handle unpeeled pineapple, so there’s no need to peel it first.

Juice

Place one apple into the juicer shoot, then the kale, then the second apple. Turn the juicer on and push all food through the shoot.

Then, juice the pineapple, carrots, and cabbage.

Stir and serve over ice.

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Cooking! Quinoa Pineapple Stir-Fry from Veganomicon

I Eat in Virginia

Hello from Virginia!

It has taken a few weeks to settle in, but I finally have a functional kitchen and food in my fridge. And, after 4 weeks of eating lacto-veg again (for sake of convenience during the move), I’m also back to my vegan ways.

To prove that you haven’t missed anything too exciting, here’s what I’ve been up to the past couple weeks:

A Meal Amidst Boxes

A Meal Amidst Boxes

A meal amidst boxes – I was still unpacking. I could only find one pot, so I boiled some water, steamed some broccoli, chopped up a red pepper, and made organic shells and cheese from a box.

Cooking! Quinoa Pineapple Stir-Fry from Veganomicon

Cooking! Quinoa Pineapple Stir-Fry from Veganomicon

My first actual post-move-in meal, fully cooked! I had a social gathering to attend, and made this recipe from VeganomiconPineapple Cashew Quinoa Stir Fry. It was a big hit, so I made it again for myself at home. I didn’t use as much pineapple juice as recommended – just whatever juice I could get out of my can of pineapple – and made the quinoa in the rice cooker with the juice and water. I find that quinoa cooks best and burns the least with a 2:1 water:quinoa ratio in the rice cooker.

Roasted green beans = Green Bean Fries!

Roasted green beans = Green Bean Fries!

Lastly, a new bit of awesomeness: roasted green beans = GREEN BEAN FRIES! Oh, how I love anything I can eat with my hands and dip into sauce. Actually, I was just mogging these babies straight off the cookie sheet while prepping the rest of the meal. They never even made it to my dinner plate.

A photo-less bit of joy around here lately: I’ve been chopping up dried figs and putting them in my salads. Nom. SO good.

I do have some big news coming, and that is – I made concord grape freezer jam this weekend! I had to cobble together how-to’s from various web sites, as most emphasized traditional canning methods, and I was determined to pull it off freezer-jam-style. The good news is, I sampled the fruits of my labor today, and it’s a win. Write-up soon to come.

Until then, mog on, my friends.

Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer, and a Pineapple

Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer

OK. So I’m a bit like Gollum. I’m pretty good at deadlocking onto shiny preciouses and proceeding with precision focus until the precious is mine. (It’s a blessing and a curse). I do have an affinity for gadgets, but I can usually sniff out the gimmicky ones and avoid them.

Enter: the Vacu Vin Pineapple Easy Slicer. Between it and its plastic siblings, this little gadget has nearly a gazillion positive reviews. Yet, my “gimmicky” radar was going off like Spidey Sense.

Aside from a vacation in Honolulu, I’ve never had fresh pineapple. It’s my favorite fruit, but being the clutz that I am, I deemed it much too dangerous to attempt chopping a pineapple myself. With visions of warm sea breezes and sweet, sweet pineapple nectar of the gods dancing in my head, I rolled the dice on this gadget. I went with the stainless steel version, hoping for some durability if in fact it worked. (Oh, who am I kidding? I just like how stainless stuff looks).

I ordered the slicer on Amazon, and then bought a pineapple in anticipation. An observation on pineapples: they are an angry fruit! Wow! I couldn’t figure out how to pick the thing up and carry it without drawing blood! I eventually wrapped my hands in my hoodie sleeves to pick the darn thing up.

Several reviews of the slicer mentioned that if the pineapple is too large, fruit will be left on the inside – so I tried to get one of the smaller pineapples of the bunch. I’ve since learned that this “medium” sized slicer is good for pineapples in the 3-5 pound range.

I took the pineapple slicer for a test drive this morning.

Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer, and a Pineapple

Vacu Vin Pineapple Slicer, and a Pineapple

The slicer did not come with instructions (gah!!) but thankfully the Amazon product page had a video demonstration, so I knew in a roundabout way what to do.

First, slice off the top of the pineapple.

Cut the top off the pineapple

Cut the top off the pineapple

Then, center the slicer on top of the pineapple and screw it in, clockwise. The teeth on the bottom of the slicer cut into the fruit with no problems.

Center the slicer on top of the pineapple and screw in

Center the slicer on top of the pineapple and screw in

Continue to turn the slicer handle clockwise until it reaches the bottom of the pineapple. The only tricky part here is holding the pineapple in place, because – like I said – it’s an angry fruit! I ended up putting an oven mitt on my left hand while turning the slicer with my right, to prevent the pineapple skin from tearing my hand up. It was much easier to turn the slicer than I’d expected. I didn’t really have to use any force at all.

Twist the slicer into the pineapple until it hits bottom

Twist the slicer into the pineapple until it hits bottom

Once you’ve hit bottom, pull the fruit out of the shell of the pineapple. It helped to twist it a bit while I pulled.

Pull the fruit out of the pineapple shell

Pull the fruit out of the pineapple shell

Tada! A sliced and cored pineapple! I can see where a larger pineapple would leave more fruit in the shell.

Tada! A sliced and cored pineapple

Tada! A sliced and cored pineapple

Press the buttons on the side of the slicer handle to remove the handle, then slide the round pineapple slices off of the slicer. Serve as rings or cut into wedges. Yum!

Round pineapple slices

Round pineapple slices

The way this slicer works, most of the juice is retained inside the pineapple shell. I poured the juice into a glass and got about 4 oz. from it. You could also use the remaining pineapple shell as a fruit bowl – nice party trick!

This little gadget, in my opinion, is genius. It’s brilliantly easy to use, and there’s very little risk of me losing any digits this way. If you’ve got a Bed Bath & Beyond store locally, the plastic version of this tool is on clearance for $6 (at least around the Chicago area), and it’s also available on Amazon ($8-ish for the plastic one, $16-ish for the stainless one).

Bravo! Fresh pineapple for everyone!

No-Mess Sweet & Sour Tofu

I just received my first issue of Vegetarian Times magazine (I love magazines!!), and was excited to see a section with some recipes made using FOIL! Recently, my sister-in-law Amanda suggested I try roasting veggies and such with foil for easy clean-up. I hadn’t thought of that (I’m new to this “cooking” thing, remember?!) So when VT came to my rescue with some recipes, I barely waited a day to try one out.

My first foil adventure is with the Sweet & Sour Tofu Packets recipe from the May/June 2010 edition of Vegetarian Times. I adapted the recipe to what I had on hand, leaving out a few spices and using a bag of frozen organic tri-colored peppers instead of the recommended fresh red and green ones. Still, it turned out really good!

Sweet and sour tofu ingredients

I’m totally hooked on these Garlic Gold nuggets from Kath’s Open Sky Store. They’re tasty and crunchy and organic!

TofuI’m also totally digging tofu. It’s so versatile! And it takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. This recipe originally called for Asian-marinated tofu, but as hungry as I was, I just couldn’t bring myself to commit to the hour or so required for a proper soaking. I knew, however, that the tofu would pick up the wonderful flavors of the pineapple and coconut milk, so I wasn’t worried.

I learned a tofu trick from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s “Food for Thought” podcast over at Compassionate Cooks. She recommends freezing the firm varieties of tofu, then thawing them before using. It makes the tofu much easier to drain (you can almost wring it out!) – no more stacking towels and books on your tofu blocks. It worked really well for this recipe and saved me a good 20 minutes or so.

making packetsHere’s a packet, ready to fold up and pop into the oven! Tofu, veggies, pineapple, and a sweet-and-sour coconut milk sauce. I learned some cool things about coconut milk from another recent book purchase – Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide by Brendan Brazier. He explains how that while coconut milk is high in saturated fat, it is made up of short-chain and medium-chain fatty acids that the body quickly turns into energy instead of storing as fat. That’s a good thing for people looking for a quick energy boost or for weight loss. It also contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes.

Sweet and sour tofu over brown riceTada! My packets turned out a little runny – I drained off some of the liquid before storing the remaining leftovers, but hadn’t figured that out in time for this plate! I served the sweet and sour tofu over brown rice. It was exactly what I was expecting – yummy, sweet, and sour. This meal came together really quickly and had very little clean-up due to the use of the foil packets. Thumbs up!

[recipe-show recipe=sweet-and-sour-tofu]

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