Saturday, March 28, 2015

cool coconut curry salad



I am calling this a salad because it's cool, crisp, and fresh. This recipe is inspired and adapted from tasty-yummies, a blog full of awesomeness that everyone should check out!

Curry is my go-to for a quick, easy, anything-goes dinner. I make it all the time yet I haven't ever posted a curry recipe, besides my curried lentils!

The last few days have really started feeling like summer. Yes, this is Hawaii, doesn't it always feel like summer? No, not when it's raining and I am wearing my Ugg boots. It was very summery the last few days though! And I was lucky enough to be on spring break and actually get to go to the beach and enjoy them! Woo-hoo!

Anyway, summer. This recipe is the perfect transition into warmer weather. Fresh crisp veggies, warm brown rice noodles, and creamy chilled coconut curry. Just as I have adapted this recipe from tasty-yummies, you should also get creative and adapt your own! Try buckwheat soba noodles, red or green curry paste, or any variety of fresh veggies, or even tofu!

cool coconut curry salad:

the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup soaked cashews, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used lite coconut milk)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp chopped turmeric (or 1/2 tsp ground turmeric)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped ginger
  • 2 Tbsp yellow curry paste (Mae Ploy is my fave)


Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Chill in the fridge while you prepare everything else. Its nice if you make the sauce ahead of time so it has time to get nice and cold!

yes, that is a homemade margarita, complete with hawaiian gingerade and grand mariner! 
the bulk:

  • brown rice noodles (4 oz)
  • noodled carrots
  • snow peas
  • dino kale
  • thai basil

Prepare all veggies as desired. Cook noodles as directed and drain. Now it's time for construction:

Step 1: sauce
Step 2: noodles


Step 3: veggies


Step 4: more sauce


Step 5: eat your hear out! And enjoy that margarita because its spring break! 

This recipe makes two servings, with a little sauce left over. The leftover sauce is good on just about anything. Douse sandwiches and salads, or dip raw veggies and nori rolls in it! 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

cherry + turmeric acai bowl

cherry trees on my dad's property in North Idaho

Talk about antioxidants! Woah! Cherries, turmeric, and acai berries are all packed with healthy antioxidants, good for immunity and fighting inflammation. I was feeling like I was coming down with something this morning and I knew I needed to do something about it! Hopefully my morning run, followed by this vitamin-rich smoothie bowl (that is also covered in superfoods) will do the trick!

What are antioxidants and how do they work? Good question! We are always hearing about them and how good they are for us, so here's the scoop:

Highly reactive chemical substances called free radicals roam around our bodies looking for electrons to steal from other molecules. When this electron transfer takes place, the molecule is said to be oxidized. Once oxidized, these substances can cause serious damage to cells and their DNA. Not good.

Antioxidants are electron donors who stabilize free radicals and oxidized molecules by giving them an electron, thus preventing and repairing damage done by free radicals. Free radicals are in the body naturally but higher levels are caused by toxins or environmental pollutants. Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables. Many vitamins act as antioxidants such as vitamin E, C, and beta-carotene.

So eat your plants to heal your body!



cherry + turmeric acai bowl

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 1 Sambazon acai smoothie packet 
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1" piece fresh turmeric
  • 1" piece fresh ginger (optional, ginger gives it a real kick!)
  • about 1 cup of milk of your choice (I chose almond milk)

Throw it all in the blender and process until smooth. Start out with a little less than a cup of milk and add more as needed to blend. As for the toppings...

  • homemade granola
  • hemp seeds
  • cacao nibs
  • and anything else that tickles your fancy!


Don't forget to be creative! And let me know how your smoothie bowls turn out! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

potato + corn chowder


I am nose deep in a new health read right now, The Starch Solution, by Dr. John A. McDougall, which claims a plant-based, starch-centric diet will lead us to health and weight loss. For me, this is saying, "have your cake and eat it too!" I'm very intrigued to see what I learn and take from this book. I started it because I want to learn all the angles of eating plant-based as seen by a professional. I am studying nutrition at school but I also feel like it is up to me to do my own research and make my own decisions about what I should be eating.


With that being said, my diet is very balanced and I believe in everything in moderation. But I am willing to try this theory out (up the starch and lower the fat) to see what happens.

This soup is simple, quick, creamy, vegan, and oh so comforting.



potato + corn chowder

  • 3 medium sized red potatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice


Dice the garlic and onions. Cube the potatoes with the skin on. Heat olive oil in large pot, add garlic, onion, and potatoes. Cook, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add water and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minute, or until the potatoes are soft.

Add the corn, almond milk, and nutritional yeast. Bring the soup back up to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully blend with a hand blender (I always seem to splash myself) or in batches in a blender. The reason I like the hand blender for this soup is that I can easily control how chunky I want it, and when it comes to potato soups, I like me some chunks.

Once you've got the consistency you want, return to heat if necessary. When it reaches desired temperature, remove from heat and add fresh chopped dill and lemon juice. Serve immediately!

I love leaving the skins on red potatoes, it adds a texture and color you can't get from another veggie. By adding the fresh herbs and lemon at the end, the green color will stay fresh and bright!


Enjoy your starch!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

protein packed quinoa breakfast bowl



Do you ever have extra quinoa that you cooked the night before but didn't use for dinner? Well, you should! I make extra every time I make quinoa; for quick quinoa salads, quinoa nori wraps, and of course... breakfast!

This meal is so easy; no soaking, no cooking, just mix it up and be powered by protein! Quinoa is one of the few plant-based complete proteins, and when coupled with chia seeds (3g of protein per Tbsp) and topped with nuts, you're off to a pretty good start to your day.

quinoa breakfast bowl

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa

toppings:

  • chopped pecans
  • sliced banana
  • blueberries
  • or whatever you want!


Combine coconut milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk until chia seeds have set, just a minute or two. Add quinoa and mix to combine. Divide mixture into two bowls and top with fruit and nuts. Enjoy :)


* Makes two small servings. Up the quinoa for a bigger bowl of goodness! 
* Like things a little sweeter? A little more maple might be a good choice for you!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

raw cashew + sunseed cheese



Book club tonight! Once a month I meet up with a group of lovely ladies to drink wine, eat food, and discuss the book we all just read (we get sidetracked easily though, so we don't end up talking about the book as much as you might think!). It's been almost two years since we started this book club (or should I say, my mother started this book club) and we have had some amazing reads! My favorites are historical fiction; I love learning a thing or two about a time or a place while getting lost in fictional characters. This month's book was a real winner, Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline.

I had never heard of the orphan trains, which apparently carried thousands of abandoned children from the East coast to the cities of the Midwest. The novel takes place in two different times, 2011 and the 1930's. Two orphans find each other, share their incredible stories, and find friendship where it was least expected. It's a fast read that kept me hooked until the end, I highly recommend it.

As for the club meeting tonight, I am, as usual, assigned to bring pupus (appetizers). This dish is inspired by the live cashew cheese we used to make at Mana Foods and the serving suggestion from Choosing Raw, only slightly adapted. I highly suggest you check out her version: raw herbed dill cashew cheese, and the rest of her blog as well! Raw cheese can be eaten as a dip or a spread for crackers or raw veggies. Or, in the case of my husband, with potato chips! Everything in moderation!



raw cashew + sunseed cheese

  • 1 cup soaked cashews (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup soaked sunflower seeds (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water

Blend cashews, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, and salt in food processor until completely broken down. While processing, drizzle in olive oil and water. You'll have to stop it a couple times to scrape down the sides. Blend until it is thick and creamy with no chunks of nuts or seeds.



optional add-ins

  • 1/3 cup fresh herbs (I opted for dill this time but I am curious to try basil for more of a pesto theme!)

Roughly chop herbs and add to food processor. Pulse to combine.



Serving suggestion: slice cucumber and arrange slices on a platter. Top with cashew + sunseed cheese, a caper or two, and off to book club you go. Or wherever you are taking this crowd pleasing pupu platter.




Tuesday, March 17, 2015

tahini trifecta

Tahini dressing three ways. 


Creamy dressings have been branded fatty and unhealthy, probably because of the infamous ranch and traditional caesar. But there is a new kind of creamy invading the salad dressing scene, a healthy creamy, that is incredibly versatile and almost too easy! 

All three of these dressings are more than salad worthy. They are so good they often end up as dips for veggies or even eaten by the spoonful! Get creative and use these recipes as a template to devise your own tahini based creamy dreamy dressings, anything goes! 

For all three recipes throw all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy! 

#1: herbed lemon tahini dressing
light, slightly sweet, loaded with herbs




herbed lemon tahini dressing

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 Tbsp miso
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar 
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar (or cane sugar, or agave)
  • 1/2 cup water 

Serving suggestion: toss with noodled veggies such as zucchini and carrots, top with sesame seed 



#2: orange + ginger tahini dressing
super creamy, sweet, ginger zing


orange + ginger tahini dressing

  • 1/2 orange, partially peeled
    • cut entire orange in half, cut off the butt, cut off a few strips of peel, leaving it striped
  • 1" piece ginger, peeled
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup soaked cashews (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional) 

Serving suggestion: top a power salad; spring greens, purple cabbage, sprouts, chickpeas, avocado, and chili flakes


#3: cumin + lime tahini dressing
tart, tangy, south of the border


cumin + lime tahini dressing

  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chives (or green onion)

Serving suggestion: drizzle over a baked sweet potato covered in black beans, corn, and avocado


Have fun dressing things up! Let me know what you made and how it went! Comment on the blog or tag @iamalmostvegan on instagram, I would love to hear from you! 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

apple pie bites



In case you aren't as big of a nerd as I am (which would be hard, I'm a pretty big nerd), you might not know that today is pi day! 3.1415 are the first five digits of the number π, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to it's diameter. Yes, I am a math nerd. But I also love pie, so I'm down with any excuse to indulge.

In honor of π, and just because the apple + cinnamon combination is so warm and cozy, I have adapted my cookie dough balls into apple pie bites!

The taste of apple pie always reminds me of certain things. I have very fond memories of making apple pies in autumn with apples picked in Talache, North Idaho. And I can't help but think of my French friend Marie-Laure who whips up a homemade apple tart whenever she has company. Because there is something nostalgic and very stereotypical about the comfort I feel from apple pie, I think I should have it more often. Little healthy apple pie bites are a good way to get your fix without any guilt!



  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried apples

Measure out nuts and coconut into a food processor, process until into a fine meal that starts to climb up the sides. Scrape everything back down to the blade and add oats. Process until just combined. Add maple, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla and pulse until combined. Transfer into mixing bowl and add dried apple chunks, fold apple into mixture. It should be sticky but roll-able. Roll into little balls and enjoy! Give in to those nostalgic apple pie memories and then store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

coconut curried lentils + naan bread


Beans are a paramount source of protein for any vegan, and lentils take the cake. Not only are they easier and faster to prepare than other dried beans, but the nutritional profile of one serving of lentils is through the roof; protein, B vitamins, and loads of fiber! To learn more visit whfoods.com.

As I have mentioned before about lentils, it is sooooo much easier if you soak them throughout the day or the night before. They will cook much faster and use less water during cooking. As with my beet braised lentils, this recipe is designed for presoaked lentils. If you haven't soaked your lentils, keep this in mind, because you are going to need more liquid and more time.

coconut curried lentils

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 diced yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp chopped or grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chopped or grated fresh turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 15oz can coconut milk
  • 1 15oz can of water (use the same can)
  • 1 cup of dry lentils (presoaked for at least 4 hours, they will become more than 1 cup)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 cup chopped fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley


Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add diced onion, garlic, turmeric, and ginger. Sauté until soft, 3-5 min. Add curry powder and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the can of coconut milk plus an equal amount of water.  Bring to a simmer, then add lentils. Make sure you drain and rinse them if they are still in the soaking water.

Keep on a low boil for 20-25 minutes, or until most of the liquid had been absorbed. Add fresh kale and parsley, cook for 5 more minutes and remove from heat.

Toast naan bread (no, I didn't make my own, that will be another project in itself!) and serve.



Monday, March 9, 2015

white bean + pea hummus


Hummus is a staple in my house. Traditional hummus, pumpkin hummus, beetroot hummus, black bean hummus, zucchini hummus, the list goes on. I don't share all of them with you, for fear of smothering you with hummus. But, if there is always a new one up my sleeve, maybe you'll just keep checking the blog in hummus anticipation.

The newest humminsperation: white bean + pea hummus

  • 1 cup of green peas (I used frozen peas, thawed out)
  • 1 15 oz can white beans (great northern, cannelloni, or navy beans)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until hummus-ey smooth! Usually a hummus requires a little bit of water, but because white beans and peas are so moist and soft, the small amount of lemon juice and olive oil is enough! This dip is a great twist on traditional hummus, it is slightly sweeter because of the peas, and a beautiful shade of springy green!



Friday, March 6, 2015

piña kale-ada


Smoothie. Addict.

Yep, I admit it. I am addicted to smoothies! There are just so many options! You can let your creativity run wild and your taste buds soar! Plus you can pack them with greens and other superfoods that make smoothies a seriously nutrient dense way to start your day.

Today, after an early 3 mile run through beautiful Haiku, I indulged in a tropical mocktail, modified into a complete breakfast.

piña kale-ada smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh kale (or one big leaf, de-stemmed)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes 

Throw all ingredients into a blender (or a Nutribullet) and blend! Add more coconut milk if you need more liquid.


Garnish with more coconut flakes, a pineapple wedge, and if you need a little more substance: some homemade granola!



Feeling nourished and satisfied :)


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

polenta pizza pie



I heart polenta. I have been using polenta lately to keep things interesting. I like using it instead of rice or quinoa topped with curried veggies, or even as a hot sweet breakfast porridge with swirls of honey and fresh fruit. But now I have taken it to a new level; polenta pizza.

I'm not sayin' it's easy. Polenta takes some time and effort, but its hearty, delicious, and it may be something you've never had before. That is always a good reason to give something a try.

Gluten free + vegan polenta pizza pie


  • 1 cup polenta (cornmeal)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups veggie broth


That is seriously all that's in it. I have read a lot of recipes that add oil, butter, or cheese (like grits) but I honestly don't think its necessary, especially if you are loading it up with pizza toppings! Once you have cooked the polenta it needs to set for at least two hours, so I recommend making it in the morning before work, or even the night before.

Bring water and broth to a boil, add polenta. Whisk at a boil until it becomes thick, just a few minutes, turn down to a simmer. This is where the hard work comes in. The polenta needs to cook for about 30 minutes, and to avoid getting lumps you need to be whisking frequently. I suggest having a glass of wine in one hand, or, if you are making it in the morning (which is a good idea so it's already set when you get home from work) maybe a coffee.

Polenta will be cooked  after 30 minutes but it is always a good idea to taste test. It should be super thick and creamy, not gritty at all. Line a pie pan with parchment paper. When polenta is ready pour into pie pan and spread evenly to edges with a spatula. Now pop it in the fridge to allow to set.


After at least two hours your polenta crust should be fairly easy to transfer out of the pie pan and onto a cookie sheet or pizza pan. Pre heat oven to 350 and bake crust for 45 min, flipping after 30 min. (flipping it is easier than it sounds, it's fairly manageable)


Now, choose your toppings...



I used 2 Tbsp tomato sauce, fresh arugula, mushrooms, red onion, and vegan Daiya cheese (mozz style shreds). Spread sauce thinly on crust, cover with veggies and top with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melty and veggies are cooked enough.


I was able to move my whole pizza from cookie sheet to cutting board no problem, and the pieces held together so well! No fork required! I can't wait for the leftovers at lunch tomorrow!