Monthly Archives: July 2010

Pumpkin Spiced Sweet Potato Puree

Oh comfort food. Since I get home from Baja today (though I’m writing this the night before I leave because I’m up all nervous and jittery anyways), I figure I’ll be about ready for some homemade macaroni or some other comfort food like that. Therefore, I’m giving you a recipe for one of my favorites: Sweet Potatoes. You can do so much with them: baking, boiling, broiling, grilling, etc. And they’re so versatile: going from sweet to savory so easily. This recipe, however, is seriously one of the best. I recommend it for a dessert even because of how sweet it is (and a healthy dessert at that!)

Pumpkin Spiced Sweet Potato Puree

Feeds 1 as a Meal, 2 as a Side

  • 1 Sweet Potato
  • Dash of Salt
  • A couple shakes each of: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. Grapeseed Oil

Bake the sweet potato for ~45 minutes at 400 or until you can easily pierce through the potato with a fork. When it is no longer too hot to handle, take off the skin, place in the food processor with all other ingredients and blend until smooth. If you don’t like any chunks, you can push it through a wire mesh strainer. If you like it chunkier, just use a potato masher or a fork to mash it up. (I topped mine with vanilla greek yogurt more for the photographic quality than the flavor though it was very good).

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. You can bake these at the same time you’re baking something else. If the other thing is baking at a different temperature, just change the cooking time accordingly. Yay for cutting back on energy use!
  2. Organic sweet potatoes and local can decrease transportation and pesticides!

Apricot BBQ Sauce

Sauces. They really do make or break a meal. That’s why a saucier is so important in commercial kitchens. But how to eco-up something that can have a ton of ingredients? Easy. Make sure the ingredients (as many as you may want) are as “green” as you can get.

Here’s a recipe for an apricot barbecue sauce. I think the sauce tastes absolutely great (I happened to eat it on fish) and I think it could be really good on chicken (organic and free-range of course), seitan, or tofu. You could also sub the apricots for other seasonal fruits such as peaches.

Apricot Barbecue Sauce

  • 1/2 small Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 3-4 Apricots, pitted and sliced
  • 1/4 cup Vegetable Broth
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Coriander
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 cup Molasses
  • 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
  • 3 tbsp. Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tbsp. Tamari Soy Sauce

Saute the onions until brown. Then add the garlic. Deglaze the pan with the veggie broth. Add the apricots, ginger, and coriander and bring to a boil. Cover and lower to a simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and add the remaining ingredients. Cook for 10 more minutes and then transfer to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Top your chicken, tofu, seitan, or fish with it. Yum yum!

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. Using seasonal, local produce (like the apricots) leads to tastier products that are better for the environment. Win win!
  2. Buying organic spices and vegetables helps to alleviate pesticides from poisoning our watersheds.
  3. Vegetable broth is a great alternative to chicken stock if you’re trying to avoid using so many animal products.
  4. The fruit salad I had on the side of the dish is a hodge podge. You can really make it with any fruit you’re trying to rid your refrigerator of.
  5. If you’re using fish, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch List to know which fish are sustainable and which you should be avoiding due to overfishing.

Applesauce Oat Muffins

Nom nom nom for sure. I really wanted to have something to take while I was in the bus on the way down to our campsite in Baja so I came up with these little suckers. They’re vegan (again I know) but they’re really moist and delicious. I recommend not using instant oats (which was my problem) because they cook a little too much. But they were great anyways so tis’ up to you.

Applesauce Oat Muffins

Makes 12 Muffins

  • 3/4 cup Soy Milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 3 tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 3/4 cup Oats
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
  • Pinch of Salt
  • optional: Dried Fruit of some sort (I’m not really into it but I know some people are)

Oven to 350. Whisk together soy milk and apple cider vinegar. Wait a minute (to let it curdle). Add the applesauce, canola oil, and brown sugar.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. (If using dried fruit fold in now). Scoop the mix into muffin cups. Bake for ~30 minutes or until toothpick test comes out clean.

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. Whole wheat flour instead of white flour has less processing involved.
  2. Vegan (although I know I said I’d do something different for awhile… I can’t help it! I’d already made them!)
  3. Organic, local applesauce is easy to find! At the very least, most supermarkets now carry organic applesauce.

Showers

Starting today, I’m going to write a weekly post where I tell you about ways to “green” up common household activities. Since I just got done taking a much needed shower (I was at Catalina Island all day–>though by the time you’re reading this I’ll have been in Baja for a while–>and we snorkeled and had probably my favorite day yet this year celebrating Matt’s 21st b-day) I decided that I should figure out ways that I, and you guys, can use less energy and basically be more “green” with our showers.

Green: Take a faster shower (i.e. if you take 10 minutes, do the 5 minute challenge but if you take 30, try for 20–>I’m not trying to get everyone to a 5 minute shower because I realize some of you are starting farther away from that point). Personally I think challenges are fun. And this one will help save water. Try switching to organic shampoos and conditioners. Or do what I do and switch between organic and regular (if I use solely organic it dries out my hair, but switching between the two seems to be better than just using the chemical kind). I’ve even heard of people who save water by brushing their teeth in the shower (though it takes a bit to get used to brushing your teeth with warm water).
Greener: If you shave in the shower, try turning off the water while you do so. Your skin will have enough water on it already and it’ll save energy that it takes to heat up the water and it’ll save water itself. Or try turning down the heat of the shower. There’s really no reason you need to be showering in scalding hot water anyways :).
Greenest: While I was in India last summer, we were taking bucket showers. I’m not a huge fan (mostly because I’m the type of person who uses my time in the shower to de-stress and unwind, but they save a ton of water! If you’re super dedicated seriously check this out. Fill a bucket with water and use a smaller cup to dip into the bucket and pour the water over yourself. You can also try investing in showers that have lower water output.

Hope that gave you something to think about :). Like I’ve said, if you’re just getting into this eco-lifestyle don’t overdo it or you might burn out. That’s why I gave you the levels of “greenness”. Different levels for people with different eco-experience.

Veggie Enchiladas

As an ode to the fact that at this moment I’m in Bahia de Los Angeles in Baja, Mexico, here’s a recipe for enchiladas! And make extra! I ate my two and wanted more. They were so delicious!

Vegetable Enchiladas

For sauce

  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small Yellow Onion, chopped (as small as possible)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • A couple shakes each: dried oregano, dried basil leaves, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin
  • 1/4 cup Tomato Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Salsa
  • 3 tbsp. Water

For enchilada:

  • 2 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Organic Mexican Cheese
  • Veggies, chopped (I used bell pepper and onion but that’s all I had)

Cook the sauce first by sauteing the garlic and onion until the onion is just starting to brown. Add the tomato sauce, salsa, and water and turn heat to a simmer. Add all of the spices and let simmer for at least 5 minutes (the longer the better). Meanwhile, saute the vegetables you will be using in your enchilada. Place them in the tortillas and roll up. Place them into a pan (fold side down). Top with the sauce and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (or until heated through). Top with cheese and bake until it melts (about 2 minutes).

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. Using vegetables allows you to cut back on the amount of cheese you need to get a great flavor (same with all of the spices). Plus you can get spices and vegetables organic.
  2. Because this doesn’t call for specific vegetables, you can pick those that you can find local and in season.
  3. The sauce gives the same heartiness to the enchilada that you get with meat enchiladas without the meat! I recommend making it with extra chili powder if you can handle it! And topping it with organic local avocado can help cut back on the heat from the chili powder if you can’t.
  4. Whole wheat tortillas take less processing than their refined flour counterparts.

Mini Cheesecakes

I know that I just made cheesecake but let me tell you why I’m posting about it again:

  1. I made it greener this time around.
  2. It was one of my best friend’s 21st birthday’s and he really likes my cheesecake (or so he tells me).
  3. I made all sorts of flavors so you can see some of the great things you can do with cheesecake :).

I made 21 mini cheesecakes (I know it seems like a lot–> it WAS –> but they were shared between a couple of us that went to Catalina to celebrate his 21st and he’s taking the rest home for the familia) in five different flavors: raspberry, chocolate, cookie dough, regular, and cookies n’ cream PLUS I used the extra for a pie-sized raspberry swirl cheesecake.

Mini Cheesecakes

(I cut the recipe for you so it makes 10 mini cheesecakes approximately)

  • Oreos, crushed and/or Graham Cracker Crumbs
  • Vegan Margarine, enough to coat oreos and/or grahams
  • 4 bars Neufchatel Cream Cheese
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla
  • 3 Eggs

Mix the Oreos and/or Grahams with melted vegan margarine. Place into small ramekins (such as little pyrex bowls). Mix the rest of the ingredients together for the base of all of the cheesecakes. Then divide the batter into as many types as you want (I did 5). Add different ingredients to each: for raspberry, mix crushed raspberries with a little powdered sugar and mix into cheesecake batter, for cookies n’ cream, chop Oreos and mix into batter, for cookie dough, leave plain but place a ball of cookie dough on top of the crust in one of the ramekins and top with plain cheesecake mix, add melted chocolate to make chocolate cheesecake). Pour batter on top of crusts in the ramekins and bake for ~30 minutes at 400 degrees or until they do not wiggle in the middle when you shake them.

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. Smaller versions of cheesecake mean no waste! You don’t need to make a whole big cheesecake (just cut the recipe down for less), and if you do make more than you were expecting, you can freeze some of them! Plus, they’re easier to give away than a whole cheesecake–>no one will worry you’re trying to ruin their waistline.
  2. Vegan margarine instead of butter cuts back on the animal byproduct (though I know that cheesecake is full of it). Every little bit helps :).
  3. Organic neufchatel anyone? No pesticides go into the crops fed to the animals used to produce the cheese, and no growth hormones end up in you. A.k.a. you keep pesticides and growth hormones out of yourself and the water!
  4. I cut back on the eggs a little. You only need enough eggs to allow the binding to occur.
  5. If there is extra batter like there was for me, you can combine it to create cool flavors! I ended up with extra raspberry and extra regular but it made a great raspberry swirl! Try combining chocolate and cookies n’ cream. Or chocolate and cookie dough.

Hawaiian Stir-fry

Ok. I officially realize that I’ve been making a lot of vegan recipes lately and I also realize that all of you out there are not vegan. For that reason, I’m going to make a conscious effort to make some vegetarian, fish, and even some meat recipes for your reading pleasure. This, however, is not one of them because I had not realized how much vegan goodness I’d been cooking up until this recipe. I promise I’ll do better from now on.

I was having a craving for pineapple when I came across a recipe for a pineapple stir-fry. I redid the recipe to fit what I had in my refrigerator (why make a whole trip to the store if you don’t need to) and it totally warped my view on how pineapple should be used in cooking. I’ve always been one of those “pineapple is better by itself or in a dessert than as a savory ingredient” types of people and I was definitely put in my place with this. Maybe it’ll change your view too?

Hawaiian Stir-Fry

Serves 2

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup Macadamia Nuts
  • 2 tbsp. Tamari Soy Sauce
  • 1/3 of a Pineapple, cored and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Scallion, white and green part chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch Ginger, minced
  • Cayenne, to taste
  • Mint, to taste, chopped

Boil 1 cup of water and then add quinoa, turning down the heat and covering. Let simmer for ~10 minutes or until all of the water has been soaked up. Set quinoa aside. Place the macadamia nuts in a pan that has NOT been oiled. Toast them to a golden brown. In a bag, marinate the pineapple chunks in the tamari. In a separate pan, saute the red bell pepper, garlic, and finger in oil until tender. Add the scallions and let brown a little. Add the pineapple and saute until just turning brown. Mix in the cayenne. Add the macadamia nuts and mint to heat/reheat and mix in. Place the mix over the quinoa and you’re finished! (I topped mine with some chia seeds too).

ECO-BENEFITS

  1. Quinoa is a quick-cooking grain. It cooks much quicker than rice and is grown with less water. Because of that it is a great “greener” alternative to rice.
  2. Getting the veggies local and organic can cut back on food-miles and the use of no pesticides helps protect our land and waterways.
  3. Nuts are a great source of protein that help us avoid heavy foodprint proteins such as meat and fish.
  4. Vegan! Though I promise I’m not going to make everything vegan because that wouldn’t teach you anything about how to go greener with the food you’re always eating (unless you are vegan).