Thursday, May 30, 2013

Spicy Black Bean Burgers (Vegan, Gluten Free)

So it seems that after my post yesterday people are interested in hearing about this veggie burger recipe of mine. And I am more than happy to share it. Now, if you haven't heard about these burgers, which let's be honest you probably haven't, allow me to brag for a moment. This past Friday, after a long day of hiking my favorite guy and I were craving some veggie burgers and sweet potato fries. I didn't want to go to the grocery store yet again so I assured him that I could put something together with what I had at my house. And apparently what I came up with is the best veggie burger ever. Or at least that's what the word on the street is. I have had many taste testers, both veggies and carnivores alike and they've all loved it. These burgers have a nice smoky flavor and are super filling! Who says you can't be vegan and have your burger, too?

But before I get to the recipe, I think I should share some pictures from the hike. You know to help you work up an appetite, put you in the same frame of mind that we were in when we first sank our teeth into this tasty meal. Make sense? No? Yeah, didn't think so. I just really want to share the pictures!

We were half expecting mountain lions to attack us as soon as we walked into this clearing,
fortunately the only animals we saw were deer, a bunny, hummingbirds and an eagle.
What a goof. Trying to lift the boulder.

At first we thought all the dead trees we saw were a result of a landslide. But on closer inspection, they were actually chopped down. Why? Who knows, but there were a TON of them. 

We were not expecting to be so close to Pike's Peak so that was a cool surprise once we reached the reservoir at the top.
Needless to say, after over 7 hours of hiking through the Colorado mountains we were more than ready for food. So on a whim I threw some ingredients into a bowl and here's what came out:

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
  • 2 Cans Black Beans
  • 1/3 Cup Quinoa Flour
  • 1 Clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/3 Cup Minced Onion
  • 1/4 Cup Minced Carrot
  • 1 Jalapeno, minced (include the seeds for spice)
  • Handful Fresh Cilantro
  • Approximately 1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
  • Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste
  • Sea Salt to Taste and then some (you want them to taste a little too salty before they're cooked)
Makes 4 Burgers.
Rinse and drain black beans, set aside to dry. Chop and mince all your veggies and throw them in a bowl. if you want to be faster or lazy about it, you can just throw it all in a food processor. Once everything is chopped, add your black beans and mash everything together with a potato masher. Once it all starts to stick, add the flour and spices and mash until everything is mixed. Divide the mix into 4 equal parts and then form them into burgers. Add this point you have a few options:
  • Bake the burgers. On a greased cookie sheet, aluminum foil or silpat cook the burgers at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes on each side.
  • Use a skillet. On medium heat, in a greased skillet, cook the burgers until the underside had turned brown, flip and repeat.
  • Partially bake and finish them off in a skillet. Follow the above directions, just cut the cook time in half.
  • Partially bake and finish them off on a grill. Follow the same directions you would if finishing in a skillet.
As I said yesterday, I have now made these burgers 4 times in the last 6 days. This gave me some time to experiment. I think the easiest way to cook them is in the oven because you can walk away and forget about them. But taste and texture wise, I think it's best to partially bake and finish them in either a skillet or on the grill to add a little more crispness to the outside. 

Also note that this recipe is flexible, the measurements above by no means have to be exact. Feel free to get creative with the veggies you include. It also tastes great with red pepper, but I'm sure any bell pepper would be great. You could also mix in corn for a more traditional southwestern burger. Let me know what combinations you come up with!

I've also tried this burger with several different topping combinations, but by far my favorite is tomato, avocado and kale. Also, be sure to toast the bun- it's way better! And if you have a gluten sensitivity, use a gluten free bun, which you already knew, or try it wrapped in a corn or rice tortilla! Serve with a side of sweet potato fries 'cause they're awesome!

But most importantly, enjoy them because they will not last long.

What's the best veggie burger you've ever had?
Do you enjoy hiking?
What's your favorite post-hike meal?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Surprises are my Favorite.

Hey guys! I apologize for my absence this week, but I have a good reason.
You see, last Wednesday the guy I sorta kinda REALLY like surprised me and flew up here to visit from Austin! I was at work and I looked up to see him standing there with a sunflower in his hand (Awwww...). And when I got home these were waiting for me.

...Along with red wine, chips, pineapple salsa and all the fixings to make guacamole. This guy knows the way to my heart.

He even thought ahead to call my boss to arrange my schedule so I would have time off while he was here. The weather Thursday was a little bleak so we decided to have a relaxing day of food-making, movie-watching and plant-buying. 

Beginning with some Vegan Blueberry Pancakes. So good!

We also made Lemon Chia Seed Muffins, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Banana Bread, and Chocolate Chip Chia Pudding (all vegan). Needless to say, we kinda like food. After all the baked goods we were craving some vegetables so Sam went out and bought us some Chinese food for dinner. 

Friday the weather was perfect so we decided to go for a hike. We headed up to Catamount Falls and Reservoir. This was my first hike since moving to Colorado so I was super psyched! It was a beautiful hike full of ever-changing terrain. I'll be posting more pictures later this week.

After 7+ hours of hiking we were starving. Black bean burgers and sweet potato fries sounded perfect so that's what we made, along with some juicy, fresh watermelon! I wanted to use up the ingredients I had on hand so I made up a burger recipe and apparently it worked! I've made the recipe three times in the last 5 days. People seem to really like them. I'll be posting the recipe soon!

Saturday I had to work in the morning, but after that we headed to Tabor Mountain Bakehouse where we joined others in the March Against Monsanto. Unfortunately, by the time we got there the march had already taken place, but we were able to lend our support and write a few postcards to our senators about our concerns.

*photos courtesy of Sam*

I don't like to get into politics on the blog, but if you have a moment, please take some time to read up on Monsanto and GMOs and get educated on these major issues that have crippling effects on our food supply, land and well-being. If you're already aware of the problem, be vocal! Spread the word! When you can buy local and organic- the earth, your health and future generations will thank you for it.

After walking around downtown and another grocery store run, we made more of the Black Bean Burgers and fries per Sam's request. We watched Promised Land and waited for the release of the new season of Arrested Development (which I fell asleep for, whoops!).

Yes, Sam did eat all three of those burgers.
It was a great, fun, relaxing weekend and best of all I was able to spend time with my best friend who I hadn't seen in far too long. 

*Photo courtesy of Sam*

Can't wait 'til my trip to Austin next month! 

Be sure to check back tomorrow since I'll be sharing some of the recipes from this week's experimenting!
What have all of you been up to?
Have you watched any of the new Arrested Development yet?
Do you like surprises or do you like being prepared?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fresh Start Green Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free)

Do you ever have those days where you think you're being productive, but at the end of the day you realize all you've done is left yourself a trail of half-finished projects and tasks? Well, that has been my week so far. I signed into Blogger this morning to find 3 drafts of blog posts, none of them finished, none of them published. I've only listened to half my classes this week when I had intended to listen to them all on Monday. I haven't even started my Coursera class this week. Only half of my house has been cleaned. Monday three different times I stepped outside to go for a run and every time it started to rain, no joke. Thank God I've showed up to work the past three days and finally got a run in yesterday. And with any luck, this post will actually, well, be posted (though even the photography for this post is half-assed). I've just had major ADD this week. 

In times like these sometimes all you need is to press the reset button and get a fresh start. Perhaps you're not as absent-minded as I am, but you ate too much junk over the weekend. Maybe you want to start your day off on the right foot or maybe you just want to do something good for your body. This smoothie is a great for all of that.

Now I realize for those of you not used to drinking green smoothies, I might as well be asking you to drink the polyjuice potion from Harry Potter, but trust me. This is tasty stuff and your body will thank you for it and if you need to, just add a touch of honey or agave for a little extra sweetness. 

For the most effectiveness, drink a full glass of water first thing in the morning while you prepare this smoothie. To have a cleansing effect drink this smoothie on an empty stomach (besides the water), it'll act like a toothbrush for your insides. It's full of fiber, greens and will jump start your metabolism. Plus, you'll start your day super-hydrated, which is the best way to start any day!

Fresh Start Green Smoothie
  • 1 Apple, chopped
  • Half a Cucumber, sliced
  • 3-4 Sprigs of Parsley
  • Juice from half a Lemon
  • Inch of Ginger, peeled and chopped
  • As much Kale or Spinach as you like (I used about 1 "branch" of kale, just be sure to remove the stems)
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Flax Seed (or you can use Chia Seeds)
  • Approximately 1-2 Cups of Coconut Water depending on how many greens you use (for a smoother texture use more liquid)
  • Honey or Agave to taste *Optional*
Throw all the ingredients in the blender. I find the greens break down best when closest to the blades, which in most cases means putting them in first. Blend until your smoothie is well, smooth! Drink and enjoy, knowing that your body is thanking you for it.

How's your week going?
Are you a fan of green smoothies?
Am I the only one who can be a total space cadet at times?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Favorite Things Friday.

Happy Friday Everyone!
It's time for another round of Favorite Things Friday. There's some pretty great stuff floating around the blogosphere this week, but I think my absolute favorite thing this week has been this amazing weather! I've loved waking up to sunshine and the smell of summer wafting in through the open windows, planting an herb garden, going for long walks, reading in the grass and drinking iced tea... it's a beautiful thing.

Alright, so let's get to it!
Just click the link in italics to get to the original blog where I found the favorite thing.

Favorite Sauce
Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo -The Detoxinista
I've been wanting to try making alfredo sauce out of cauliflower, but have yet to find the right recipe. I think this might be it. I definitely want to try it with some nutritional yeast for a cheesier flavor. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Favorite Photos
I always love seeing updates on Hannah's blog. Her photos are breath-taking and make me think I can just walk through my computer screen into the scene of her picture. Plus the fact that she shares wonderfully rustic recipes is just an added bonus!

Favorite New Blog
When comments are left on my blog, I like to go and check out the blog of the person who commented and that is exactly how I discovered this blog. (Wow, I feel like I just said the word 'blog' a's starting to sound weird now....anyway) Andrea is positively adorable! She blogs about her farm life in Oregon and shares mouth-watering recipes from the produce they harvest. I love it! Be sure to check it out!

Favorite Post
In this post Kelly Ann talks about feminism and what that actually means. It's a note of encouragement to women everywhere in all walks of life. She is much more eloquent than I am, so I will just leave my description at that and encourage you to take a few moments and read her post.

Favorite Snack
Carrots Sticks and Lazy Guac
I've talked about my love for avocados before and this is one of my favorite ways to enjoy them. Have you ever had carrot sticks and guacamole? Not only is it healthier than the chip alternative it's also super tasty! But let's be honest, some days I'm just too lazy to get out the cutting board and chop up the onions and tomatoes or I'm all out of garlic or limes. That's where this lazy guac comes in- that's right it's so lazy you don't even say the whole word. All you do is mash one small (or half of a large) avocado in a bowl using a fork. Add in some sea salt, fresh ground pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper and voila! Lazy guac! Add some carrot sticks and you've got yourself a tasty and nutritious snack.

Favorite Way to Eat a Sweet Potato
Samosa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
This recipe immediately caught my eye. I love sweet potatoes and I love samosas so when I saw these listed on Kiersten's blog this morning I knew I had to save the recipe to try them later. And try them later I will!

Favorite Way to Eat Spring Rolls
Spring Roll in a Bowl
I love spring rolls, but I've never taken the time to make them myself (I think we already established I can be pretty lazy with the whole guac thing). So Joy's recipe sounds perfect! You can be guaranteed I will be enjoying this dish this summer... probably a lot.

Favorite New Canadian Dessert
Have you ever heard of butter tarts? Apparently, they're a Canadian thing. All I know is this reconstructed version sounds amazing! Sarah is brilliant in the kitchen and these tarts are no exception. I definitely want to try the coconut oil version of these! 

Alright, that's it for me this week. I hope you've enjoyed another week of my favorite things. Come back next week to see what new delights I come across. Have a great weekend!

What are some of your favorite things this week?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Garden Fresh Spaghetti Squash Pasta + Roasted Squash Seeds (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free)

As I was updating my recipe page the other day I realized I post a lot of desserts and breakfast foods. So I thought I'd switch it up and share a recipe for an actual meal (radical concept I know). There's been much talk lately about spaghetti squash and while I love me some gourds, I had never tried spaghetti squash- no time like the present right? (Especially when presently, it's on sale for 99 cents a pound!)

For those who don't know, this is a spaghetti squash.

And this is what spaghetti squash looks like once it's been cooked and the seeds have been scraped out. 
(It's like those old health videos- "this is your brain, this is your brain on drugs" ...anyone? no? okay, just me then).

So how does a bowl chock full vegetables disguised as pasta sound? Good? Great. Let's get started then.

You're going to want to use the freshest ingredients possible for this recipe. I would definitely suggest fresh herbs rather than dried. Fortunately, on Saturday I finally planted my little herb garden (keeping my fingers crossed that we've seen the last of the snow). This recipe will be excellent later in the season when you can use garden fresh tomatoes and other veggies as well. I haven't tried growing those yet, we'll see if I can keep these herbs alive first.

Isn't it cute? (I also have some mint growing in my bedroom- stay tuned for a mint chocolate chip cookie recipe!) We've already made great use out of these herbs, the plants looked significantly more trimmed back than they do in this picture. It's wonderful when the wind blows and our kitchen suddenly smells of heavenly herbs! Who needs air fresheners when you've got that?

Anyway, I'm getting distracted. Before I share the recipe, let me at first warn you and say, not much was measured out, it's definitely a play-around-til-you've-got-the-flavor-you-want kind of recipe. But you can see in one of the above pictures how much of each herb I used. Since the herbs are fresh, you won't need much.

Garden Fresh Spaghetti Squash Pasta
  • 1 Small-ish Spaghetti Squash
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 4 Large Basil Leaves
  • 6-8 Rosemary Needles
  • Small Handful of Flat Leaf Parsley 
  • 1/3 Cup Chopped Zucchini
  • Handful of Kale
  • 1 Tomato (I used Roma)
  • 1 Clove of Garlic
  • Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to Taste

*Keep in mind all measurements are approximate.
Makes 2-3 Servings.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take a knife and carefully stab the spaghetti squash several times to ensure it doesn't explode. Place the squash on a pan lined with aluminum foil. While waiting for the oven to heat, drizzle the olive oil and red wine vinegar in a medium sized bowl. Finely chop the garlic and herbs and add them to the bowl, mix well and set aside and allow the flavors to blend. Place the spaghetti squash in the oven for 1 hour. Go relax. (I went outside and read a book in the sun). 
After an hour, take the squash out of the oven and set aside. While the squash is cooling off, chop your zucchini, kale and tomato, add them to the bowl with the herbs and oil, add the salt and pepper. Now the squash should be cooled enough to handle. Taking a sharp knife, cut around the squash length-wise, open the squash and lay the two pieces on the pan. using a spoon (and you may need a knife as well), remove the seeds, but don't throw them away, you can just set the whole mess aside in a bowl. Once all the seeds are removed, take a fork and scrap the inside of the squash length-wise to create the noddles. Place the "pasta" in the bowl with the other ingredients, once all the squash has been added, mix the pasta gently to fully incorporate the ingredients in each bite. Serve with a smile and enjoy!

**Feel free to mix in pine nuts, walnuts, goat cheese, switch spinach for the kale, other vegetables you have around or whatever strikes your fancy. Or for a slightly different flavor, roast the tomato, garlic and zucchini before adding it to the dish.

Now, remember those seeds I told you to save? 

Yeah, we're gonna need those. 

Why waste the seeds when you can get dinner and dessert all from one gourd? This is a great project to give to your kids if you don't feel like getting your hands messy if you want to get them involved in the kitchen. I like sweet and spicy flavors so that's what I did for this recipe, but feel free to use the flavors you like. You can do a simple salt and pepper or a sweet honey and cinnamon, whatever makes you happy.

Sweet & Spicy Roasted Spaghetti Squash Seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon Coconut Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Honey (Pure Maple Syrup or Brown Rice Syrup work as well)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • A Couple Pinches of Cayenne Pepper (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
  • Small Handful of Dark Chocolate Chips (optional)
Reheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the seeds from any stringy pulp, place in a collander and rinse thoroughly. Dry seeds on a clean dish towel. In a bowl, place the coconut oil and honey, add the seeds and mix to coat the seeds. Add the salt and cayenne pepper. Place the seeds on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper or a silpat. Roast in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes or until toasted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place seeds in a bowl and add the chocolate chips if desired. And now you have your after dinner movie snack. Enjoy and try to share.

***These seeds would also be great to add to homemade trail mix!

Have you tried spaghetti squash?
What's your favorite recipe?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Toasted Coconut Banana Pancakes (Vegan)

Saturday morning I woke up and decided it was a pancake morning. Some days are pancake days and it doesn't do you any favors to ignore that fact. Nine times out of ten when I make pancakes, it's this kind- it's my absolute favorite! Pancakes should always be made with bananas and coconut in my opinion. Then again, if you've been hanging out at my blog, you've probably noticed I think most things are better with bananas and coconut. 

Now before we get to the recipe, there's something I should mention. Every time I make these pancakes I also get this song playing in my head. So if you plan on making these pancakes, make sure you have this song playing in the background; it makes them taste better I swear.

Toasted Coconut Banana Pancakes
Adapted from Chef in Disguise
  • 1 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar (I used Beet Sugar)
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • Coconut Oil for Cooking
  • Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (I totally forgot to measure how much I used, I just sprinkled away!)
Makes 4 Large Pancakes.
Warm skillet or griddle to a medium-low heat. Place about 1 teaspoon of coconut oil on the surface and spread it around as it melts to grease the pan. Sprinkle a thin layer of shredded coconut onto the pan and allow to toast. While that's heating, in a medium sized bowl, mix the first four ingredients together. Then mix in the almond milk and apple cider vinegar until just combined; try not to overmix. Ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the heated surface. Thinly slice the banana and place the slices on top of the pancake batter. Allow to cook until small bubbles begin to form, flip the pancake and cook for another minute or two. Repeat with the rest of the batter, adding more coconut oil and shredded coconut as needed. Serve with pure maple syrup or fresh strawberry sauce or whatever you like (I like honey on mine). And if you're feeling really fancy, you can even mix chocolate chips into the batter.

Today is Tuesday so that means I must announce the winner of my first ever giveaway! Drum roll, please...
The winner is Hannah from Grove St. Kitchen! I loved her idea of using the vanilla extract in nut butters, I can't wait to try it. Congratulations Hannah! I'll be contacting you soon so I can send you your vanilla extract.  As for everyone else, be on the lookout for my next giveaway!

Happy Tuesday!
What are your favorite kind of pancakes?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Raw Blackberry Crumble Bars (Vegan, Gluten Free, Grain Free)

Happy Monday Everyone!
And a happy Monday it is- Spring has finally decided to arrive in Colorado. Forget spring, I think we may just bypass to summer. It's supposed to be sunny and almost, if not 80 degrees everyday this week! I cannot explain how excited I am... well maybe I can. I'm so excited that I've set up a new office for myself today (and everyday this week if I have anything to say about it)....

This set-up is perfect! Yes, I had to bring the vase of lemons along to support my decrepit computer. Yes, the only extension cords we have are two-pronged and I need a three-pronger to charge my computer. And yes, it's really sunny so it's hard to see my computer screen. But you know what? I don't care, cause it's warm and sunny and I want to be outside so I declare it perfect!

But you know what really was perfect? Our little Sunday night dinner party last night. Molly does such a good job making the space look beautiful.

Complete with Christmas lights and candles, it was absolutely lovely. Perhaps a little too feminine for the boys who had to prove their masculinity by talking about cars and poop during dinner (boys will be boys, right?), but Molly and I thoroughly appreciated the ambiance. Molly found the chairs and table at a thrift store on Saturday- 75 bucks for all 5 pieces! Not too shabby. The chairs we'll be using inside so we're going to refinish those once we decide on a color, any suggestions? (Our dining table is a deep chocolately-espresso brown). Dinner was delicious (my favorite pizza of the evening being tomato basil) and afterwards we walked downtown to Josh and Jake's for some homemade ice cream! Is it any surprise that I got the Oatmeal Cookie flavor? So good!

Anyway, moving on. Let's get talking about these Blackberry Crumble Bars. They're raw, vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, refined sugar-free and delicious. Don't believe me? Make them for yourself and try them- it'll only take you about 15 minutes. You can totally eat them for breakfast, for a snack or for dessert. They'd be delicious topped with some coconut ice cream! And now that summer is finally here, it'd be a great dessert to bring to a potluck or cookout!

Raw Blackberry Crumble Bars

For the crust and topping:
  • 1 Cup Raw Pecans
  • 1 Cup Dates, Pitted
  • 1/2-1 Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut (depending on how much coconut flavor you'd like, I couldn't taste it with just a half cup)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Pinch Sea Salt
For the center:
  • 6 Ounces Fresh Blackberries*, Rinsed and Organic if possible
  • 2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds
  • Sweeten to taste using Raw Honey or Raw Agave
Makes 9 Bars.
In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the crust. Pulse until it starts to stick (I'll usually pinch some of the mixture together to test to see how well it'll hold together, if it's still a little crumbly continue pulsing). Once it's reached the desired consistency, set 1/2 cup of the mixture aside. Place the rest in a square container (I used a rectangular 6-Cup Pyrex dish). Press the mixture firmly and evenly into the dish creating a crust, place in the freezer to set. Now wash and dry your food processor. Place the ingredients for the blackberry center into the processor and blend until it's an even consistency. Remove the crust from the freezer and evenly spread the blackberry filling over the crust. Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture over the filling to create the crumble topping. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 15 minutes before slicing. As always, enjoy!

*If blackberries aren't your thing, feel free to make this recipe substituting any of your favorite berries.  

I promise this will be the last recipe I post for awhile using chia seeds, I know you guys are probably getting sick of seeing them pop up on the ingredient list. What can I say, I love those little seeds!

What did you do this weekend?

Oh! and P.S.- Today is the last day to enter my giveaway. Click here to enter.