Avocado Spinach Sandwich and Asparagus

Lies of Omission

So, I’ve been keeping something from you.

It’s a sandwich – one that I’ve now eaten 3 days in a row.

I didn’t mean to. I thought about sharing. The first time, I was just too hungry to stop and grab the camera.

The second time, I started to prep the sammy for picture time, but it just wasn’t photogenic enough to bother.

Well, the sandwich still isn’t very photogenic, but it’s so darn tasty that I was overcome with guilt today as I made it for, yes, a third time.

So here you go – my current crush of a sandwich:

Avocado Spinach Sandwich and Asparagus

Avocado Spinach Panini and Asparagus

It’s the Avocado Spinach Panini [recipe], inspired by the recipe in the July/Aug 2011 issue of Vegetarian Times.

My version is a slight modification on the original. It’s essentially (for one sandwich):

  • half an avocado, mashed
  • 1/8 of an onion, diced
  • a generous smear of garlic hummus
  • a small handful of baby spinach
  • some sundried tomatoes
  • smashed between two slices of bread and pressed for 4 minutes on the panini press

I’m currently enjoying the High Five Fiber loaf from Great Harvest Bread Company in Palos Heights, IL. If you’ve never had Great Harvest bread, you MUST check to see if there’s a GH near you. Their breads use simple, real food ingredients and fresh whole grain flours – ground daily! The flavor is incredible, and I’m so glad that I found GH at my local farmer’s market. I’ve been looking forward to shopping at GH Charlottesville once I get to Virginia, but it has been so delicious enjoying it here in the meantime!

Of course, I still suck at cutting bread loaves, so my slices are WAY huge. So, people, do not take these photos as an example of how much in grains you should eat at a meal. Leave that to MyPlate! My slices probably end up being 2.5 servings, at least!

But just look at this hot, gooey mess…

Avocado Spinach Panini

Avocado Spinach Panini

Oh, it is so good.

Mashing the avocado is definitely key. I had trouble in my first two attempts with the avocado slices falling out on the panini press or when I tried to eat the sandwich. The mashing also adds to the gooey-factor.

Side note: I’m eating asparagus like french fries now. Loooooove asparagus!

Fave way to prep asparagus: trim off the rough stems. Spray with a little olive oil spray. Sprinkle with veggie seasoning (I’m currently in love with McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Vegetable Seasoning. Yeah, the ingredient list is less than whole-foods-stellar, but it is mighty tasty). Then grill for 3 minutes. (Ahh, this is where having the Griddler is awesome sauce!)

So, as we embark upon this holiday weekend, I urge you to enjoy a tasty sandwich, grill up some veggies, and share some good times with the ones you love. 🙂

Creamy Basil Pasta with Asparagus

Twofer

Vegan Yum Yum’s got a two-fer going on!

Dinner:

Creamy Basil Pasta with Asparagus

Creamy Basil Pasta with Asparagus

This is the Creamy Basil Pasta from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook. What makes it creamy if it’s vegan, you ask?

Cashews!

I know, right? I wouldn’t have believed it either. But there it is. I wanted to eat the entire pot of this.

Since my long run got delayed due to rain, I figured I might as well carb up with some pasta tonight. Will run tomorrow. See how that works? 🙂

This sauce is not only delicious, but super easy to make. Very few ingredients – a couple tomatoes, a little tomato paste, cashews, and some seasoning. Really! I love my food processor! (I have a KitchenAid 7-cup model).

Toss with pasta (organic whole wheat pasta, in my case!) and nom!

My friend asparagus came along for the ride. I love to have asparagus with pasta. Every time I think of Italian food, I want asparagus. Is that normal? At any rate, it’s just steamed and sprinkled with a little sea salt.

Good eats!

My Buddy Isa

Isa Chandra Moskowitz is my buddy – at least, in my imagination. I imagine that she’s a pretty cool chick. I know for a fact I can learn tons from her in the kitchen. She could probably school me at being post-punk-rock, too. Isa runs a former cooking show turned web site, The Post Punk Kitchen. She also writes the most awesome cookbooks ever.

Being spring break and all, I’ve been goofing around in the kitchen again. I recently added Isa’s “Appetite for Reduction” cookbook to my arsenal, and have been cooking my way through it this week. (Check it out – if only to see the cover of the book. Total take on the old Guns n’ Roses album of a similar title. How cool is that?!)

Tonight, I made Baked Falafel from Appetite for Reduction. I also made Sanctuary Dressing, a cow-friendly ranch-style affair. The result:

Baked Falafel, from Appetite for Reduction Oh. My. Gawd.

Wonderful! Wonderful! Wonderful!

I’m new to the world of falafel. This past December, I was in Las Vegas for a poker tournament with my poker blogger friends. (Wow – never thought my foodie world and poker world would cross!) We were at the Aria poker room, hours and hours into the tournament. I’m not sure I had really expected to last so long in the game, and I was starving famished. On a break between levels, I ran next door to the little food bar to see what I could grab within 10 minutes (as the clock was counting down). The only vegetarian thing on the menu was falafel.

“WTF is falafel?” I asked.

“It’s good – you’ll like it!” CA April told me.

(For the record – falafel is a fried ball or patty of spiced chickpeas, usually served with a tahini-based sauce, often in a pita).

I tried it (served exactly as described above), and it was ridiculous-good. YUM. Apparently, I like Egyptian food. Who knew?

I’ve been yearning for falafel ever since! I even bought a boxed falafel mix, but when I paid closer attention to the ingredient list… yuck. So I was pretty excited to see a baked falafel recipe in Isa’s new cookbook.

This falafel was awesome – and way healthier than the fried variety. Spicy and substantial and yummy. And super easy to make. The recipe claims to make 12 falafel, but it seems my idea of a golf-ball size must be off, because I only got 9 falafel out of mine (3 servings instead of 4). That’s OK – there’s only one of me, anyway. Here’s the nutrition breakdown (based on 3 servings in the entire recipe):

Falafel NutritionNot bad, eh?

I ate mine over a bed of organic spring greens, about 1/4 of a cucumber, and a handful of sundried tomatoes – smothered in Isa’s Sanctuary ranch-like dressing (which, I am happy to report, is the first homemade dressing I’ve ever made that I actually really liked! And, only 40 calories per 1/4 cup… because really, who uses only 2 tablespoons of dressing?). That’s what I like about Isa. She’s a realist.

While I’m bragging about Isa’s food-smarts, I might as well add that I finally got around to trying her Chickpea Cutlet recipe from Veganomicon. It too was a smashing success, served over some whole wheat penne with her Mom’s Marinara recipe from Appetite for Reduction. The marinara was so simple and so delicious that I can’t figure out why anybody eats the junk from the jars! OK, jarred sauces are convenient – but it took practically no time at all to make this marinara, and it was infinitely more delicious. Real food ftw, again.

My tummy is happy this week!

Pasta and Bolognese Sauce

Tonight, after checking out the Hadley Valley Preserve trail for the first time (it’s nice! A 2.5 mile looping trail through prairie), I tried out another one of Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious recipes: Pasta and Bolognese Sauce (with Stealth Ninja Sweet Potatoes). This one is healthy all around, with a bunch of carrots in there, too!

I suffered a false start on this one, as I got the onion and carrots all chopped up and in the skillet, then minced a couple garlic cloves right into the pot – only to find that my garlic had gone bad while I was away last week. Oh well. Tossed it all out and started over!

Instead of garlic cloves (I didn’t trust what I had left), I used 1 tsp of Garlic Earth Italian garlic salt – an organic seasoning that my friend Becky makes.

Score another winner for the Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment, and another winner for all organic ingredients! This one was so tasty I very nearly licked my plate clean. Highly recommended, and easy to throw together.

The recipe serves 8, so I immediately froze half of the sauce after dinner, then portioned the remaining 3 portions in the fridge for leftovers. I love a recipe that I can get some mileage out of!

[recipe-show recipe=pasta-bolognese]

EpicOrganic.net


Real Food Challenge, Week 2

We’ve wrapped up Week 2 in the Nourished Kitchen Real Food Challenge, and here’s how it went in my world!

First off, I’ve been caring for my sourdough starter this week. It arrived too late to do much Week 1, and it’s taking a little longer than I’d hoped to get happy this week. I suspect it’s because my kitchen isn’t very warm (68F or so). I tried a high cabinet; I tried in the oven – apparently my pilot light isn’t very warm, either. So tonight, I fed my little sourdough buddy and brought it upstairs with me. I put it next to the heat vent in the bathroom. Hopefully the cats will not get curious.

The starter is bubbling a little bit – just not a whole lot. And it keeps separating and forming liquid on the top. I’ve just been stirring the liquid back in, as the instructions that came from Cultures for Health don’t mention anything about pouring it off. I hope I’m not killing the poor thing! (Wow, it didn’t take long for me to humanize my sourdough starter!)

Week 2 kicked off with a discussion on fats for high-heat cooking. I switched to using coconut oil a couple months ago, after reading the book Skinny Bitch. So far, I have no complaints!

Then, we got into the issue of GMO’s – which is actually the topic that led me into this entire organic adventure (including the creation of this blog). I suspect that a certain M company is actually the devil. Some things are just wrong, and blasting living cells with viruses and the like in order to splice in the DNA of different species… that’s right up there on the list. My local government representatives know who I am (and, a tip I heard a long time ago – paper letters are more effective than email, so print out those letters, stick a stamp on ’em, and drop them in the ol’ snail mail!)

For Day #10, it was back to oils – I regularly dip bread in olive oil, but haven’t tried flaxseed oil. I’ve gotten into throwing flaxseed meal into my oatmeal and my smoothies, so why not try flaxseed oil? It’s on my grocery list.

Baking sourdough is on my list of things to do, once my starter is ready! (C’mon, lil buddy!)

Then came the Real Milk challenge. I was pretty stoked about this, as I love milk and dairy products. I drink organic milk. The article mentioned a brand of Vat-pasteurized milk from Farmers All Natural Creamery. I went to their web site to find the locations where it is sold, and was ecstatic to see two things – first, that Jewel grocery stores carry it (because there’s one down the street from me), and second, that Peapod carries it (because that’s where I get most of my groceries, delivered!) I won’t be ordering from Peapod for another couple weeks, so I decided to check out Jewel. (I had been meaning to go there to check out their selection of organic produce anyway). I was quite impressed with their organic produce selection, but pretty bummed out that I couldn’t find Farmers All Natural Creamery products. 🙁 Booo. The customer service clerk that I asked had never heard of it. I’ll have to try ordering it from Peapod next time.

Day #13 looked at fermented foods. I’m a yogurt fanatic (and have just gotten into Greek yogurt too). I used to make my own yogurt a few years ago, but stopped when I moved… it’s something I plan to try my hand at again soon. I’m also interested in trying to make cheese – but that’s a whole nother story. This kefir stuff looks intriguing (particularly the anti-cancer elements). I plan to look into it some more. I saw some at Trader Joe’s the other day, but hadn’t yet read the Challenge note about kefir!

That brings us to today – Singles Awareness Day. I’m not much into chocolate, so there’s no love lost there. The most exciting thing I added to my food repertoire this week was grape tomatoes in my workout smoothie. I’m looking forward to next week and hopefully baking some sourdough bread, or maybe pancakes!

EpicOrganic.net