5-ish Ingredient Vegan Pesto

Carbs + herbs + summer + wine, what could be better?
Ingredients
2 cups macadamia nuts
1 cup basil, tightly packed
4 tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil, plus more when blending
juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup Kalamata olives (you can also use white miso paste…or anchovies if you’re not vegan/inebriated)
Blend together until smooth. Add olive oil as needed to adjust thickness. Pour over desired pasta and toss. Add red chile pepper flakes and more basil to garnish, if desired. Also makes a great spread for toast.

Vegan Breakfast Recipe: Hungover Okra Toast

The old Perri used to crave an everything bagel with the works: lox, juicy tomato slices, globs of cream cheese, capers, freshly squeezed lemon. Times two. The new Perri? All I want is a giant hunk of this oh-so-simple okra toast.
                        

First, let’s address okra. So underrated! This warm-season veggie, also known as “ladies fingers,” is low calorie, rich in vitamin C, and packed with magnesium, Vitamin A and calcium to boot. You can stir fry it, gumbo it, bake it, eat it raw, and do about a billion and a half delicious things with it. My favorite thing is a quick sauté over medium heat with a boatload of seasonings.

For all you hungover souls craving salvation, I assure you, this simple recipe sops up the vodka-fueled pain just as well as any overloaded bagel. Even better: You don’t wind up with that overindulgent double hangover feeling come nighttime.

Tender seasoned okra melds with a generous swirl of canned tomatoes and creamy avocado, while hearty black beans soak up the previous night’s bad decisions and give you a needed protein and fiber dose… all blanketed over a crunchy canvas of toasted rye bread, and finished with a generous squeeze of lemon for a note of acidity and brightness. Sounds a lot fancier than it is. It also might sound a bit weird, but don’t knock it until you try it, I promise it’s really, really good. Or maybe I’m just really hungover. Either way, here we go:

Ingredients
2 pieces rye bread
1/2 cup raw okra
1/2 cup canned black beans (preferably no salt added)
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/4 ripe avocado (when would a recipe ever call for a not-yet-ripe avocado? I’m not sure but it seemed like the right thing to say), cut into small slices
1 tablespoon olive oil (for sautéeing)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Lemon wedge

Assembly:

1. Ensure you’re sober enough to not accidentally walk towards the toaster with your okra and towards the pan with your rye bread.

2. Heat olive oil in pan. Add okra, paprika and chipotle (and whatever seasonings you like). Sautée for about five minutes over medium-high heat until it begins to brown. Add canned tomatoes and black beans and reduce heat to medium. Let sit for a few minutes.

3. Meanwhile, toast your bread (in a toaster, not a pan). Spread smushed avocado wedges over bread, which has now emerged as toast. Transfer warmed up bean and vegetable mixture from pan to plate. Squeeze a generous amount of lemon over everything. Resist desire to add olive oil and sea salt. Crank out the pepper mill and grind over mix until happy. Eat and take a milk thistle supplement (alleged liver helper) for good measure.

One-Step Cinnamon Apple Pie Pudding

Okay, fine. Two Step (OMG, DMB reference) if you count putting it in the fridge. If that’s too much effort for you, I don’t know what to say folks. And don’t let the recipe name above fool you into thinking this is just a swirl of calorie and sugar-loaded decadence. Quite the opposite: Fiber. Check. Whole grains. Check. Protein. Check.


Overnight Apple Pie Breakfast Pudding
•1 container (6 oz) plain Greek Style yogurt (such as So Delicious Greek Style Plain Almond Milk Yogurt)
•1/3 cup Grape Nuts Cereal
•¼ cup diced green apple
•½ cup vanilla almond milk
•2 Tablespoons slivered almonds
•2 teaspoons chia seeds
•¼ teaspoon cinnamon

Add all ingredients in a pint size mason jar. Secure lid and shake well. Store in refrigerator overnight. Enjoy chilled for breakfast the next morning.

Note: I adapted the original recipe slightly and added more cinnamon, a teaspoon of flax seeds and a drizzle of agave nectar. Feel free to play with the fruits (raspberries or blueberries would be a welcome swap for apples) and nuts (walnuts work well too).

Recipe and photography courtesy of Kristina VanniFor more great recipes check out www.Grape-Nuts.com or www.Facebook.com/GrapeNutsCereal.

Zoom Through Your Work Week with These Grape-Nuts Energy Bars

If you know anything about my eating habits, you probably know that it’s quite difficult to find me,  without a box, heck, an entire House of Cards season-worth stash of Grape-Nuts. I mix them into smoothies; sprinkle cinnamon and flaxseed over them with a handful of berries and call it breakfast; and I get weird looks when I drizzle a half cup over fried bananas as my go-to late night snack. Needless to say, when Post Cereal shared this recipe with me for my blog from Kristina Vanni, I knew my quest for the perfect snack bar had ended. Behold! Trust me when I say these energy bars will give you that jolt to make it through the morning grind or a pick-me-up come that 3:00pm hey-why-isn’t-it-nap-time o’clock. National Nutrition Month never tasted so good.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup Grape Nuts
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
 1 flax egg (combine three tablespoons water and one tablespoon flaxseed meal, stir and let sit for five minutes)
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana
1/4 cup agave nectar or molasses
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounce package pitted prunes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips such as Enjoy Life
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with nonstick aluminum foil making extended edges, or can use regular foil and coat with cooking spray; set aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer, combine oats, Grape Nuts, flours, flaxseed, cinnamon, and salt; stir to combine.

Add flax egg, banana, honey, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla; mix well. Stir in chopped prunes, walnuts, chocolate chips, and sesame seeds. Mix well to combine; dough will be stiff.

Transfer to prepared baking pan and pat in mixture evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes until edges are browned.

Cool completely on wire rack in pan. Use edges of foil to pick up and flip out onto a cutting board and cut into 24 squares.

P.S. Hate prunes? Swap ’em for dried apricots! Got pumpkin seeds? Throw ’em in. How about some leftover shredded coconut you’re looking to kill? In they go! Feel free to experiment with your mix-ins and flavor the bars to your own personal taste.

For more great recipes check out www.Grape-Nuts.com or www.Facebook.com/GrapeNutsCereal.

Get Your Plant-Based Sombrero On! NYC Veg Food Fest 3/1-3/2

Save your appetite, throw on your comfy shoes, and get ready for a sensory overload at the annual NYC Veg Food Fest. Learn everything you need to know here. Having just gotten back from day one, I can tell you that between Natural Gourmet Institute cooking up a storm, Vitamix demos, vegan bakers galore and more cool seitan-y goodies than you ever dreamed existed, you may want to skip dinner. Follow along on Twitter with #nycvff.

The Details: 1am – 6pm BOTH DAYS THE METROPOLITAN PAVILION 125 W 18th ST
 

Honey-Mustard Glazed Brussel Sprouts Even Vegetable Haters Will Like

 

Growing up, honey-mustard hens served over a bed of pillowy wild rice was always one of my favorite dinners to look forward to. Now, when I need that spicy-sweet fix, I turn to this super simple 3-ingredient recipe to satiate that craving. Honey…I know, I know. Some vegans don’t eat it. And I’ve watched the More Than Honey documentary (well, until I fell asleep two thirds of the way through) on Netflix, read up on the topic, gone cold honey-turkey for a while, but alas…I hope that the fairtrade raw organic honey that I used minimizes my vegan sin committal (Though, you should probably gather from my blog title that I am not the holiest vegan whose path you’ve ever crossed).

Ingredients
15 or so Brussels sprouts
2 teaspoons spicy whole grain mustard
1 (very generous) teaspoon of honey*
1 tablespoon almond slivers, optional
Serves 1 as main, or 2 people for a side

*I’d imagine you can use maple syrup or agave nectar or some other vegan sweetener substitute for similar effects.

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Pour Brussels sprouts into corningware and spoon honey-mustard mixture over it. Toss to coat evenly.

2. Bake for thirty minutes or until desired crispness is reached. Warning: Crispy-crunchy caramelized bits may look like bacon. Serve warm, or let cool and slice in half to mix into salad.

Easy Vegan Superbowl Chili Everyone Will Enjoy

Ah, gameday. Who wants to labor in the kitchen for hours on end when you can prepare something easy and simple in a snap?

1. Start with a can of preferred beans (I went with  Bush’s pinto beans in a chili sauce, but quickly rinsed them under water to slash some excess sodium).

2. Gather your veggies, for a meaty texture, I turned to eggplant and mushrooms. I also had carrots and onions on hand so I added those to the mix. Feel free to experiment!

3. Chop, chop, chop. 

4. Keep chopping away. Hand hurt yet? Rub a little ground chipotle or smoked paprika to your veggies to infuse a bit of a kick. Or, if you want to keep it milder, try sprinkling some cinnamon on your veggie pile.

5. Sautee veggies on stovetop. Meanwhile, boil carrots in water until tender.When you’re done with the carrots, use the boiling water to get one cup of your favorite rice going (I went with RiceSelect Royal Blend Texmati light brown rice with flaxseed, whole wheat pearl cous cous and black lentils because I had it in my pantry, but any simple rice will do). I have no idea if this adds any health benefits, but since using leftover boiling water from greens apparently does, can’t hurt and it lends a nice flavor to the rice.

6. Combine all ingredients together in pot, mash beans around and mix thoroughly. Go Seahawks!

…and yes, I’m basing my rooting decisions on the fact that I’ve been to the Gorge (Thanks, Jake!) but never Red Rocks (Broncos).  I know…

How to Eat Vegan at Any Restaurant (Yes, Even Steakhouses)

It may involve some creative thinking, or, gasp, calling the restaurant ahead (many chefs are amenable and excited to cook for plant-based folks. it gives chefs an opportunity to experiment and a fun challenge), but I promise you it’s easier than you think.

Image courtesy of Juicepresso 

Here are my tried-and-true tips:

1. Befriend the “sides” 

But be wary. Roasted Brussels sprouts may sound delicious but are they dotted with prosciutto bits? That baked broccoli rabe sounds good too, but is it doused with butter? Restaurants should have no problem omitting the animal portions of the sides (unless they cook it up in big batches ahead of time and just reheat…but do you really want to eat KFC baked beans anyways?) and simply request that your veggie side be cooked in olive oil. It slashes fat and helps out dairy cows: win-win. A veggie side or two along with a side of brown rice (okay, okay, french fries) or beans rounds out a filling and satisfying meal.

2. Stock your purse. 

Sounds a little crazy, but a quick sprinkle of nutritional yeast on a vegan-friendly house salad goes a long way. If you know you’re ordering coffee but not sure they’ll have non-dairy milk substitutes, bring along your own creamer (So Delicious Dairy Free Creamers will enchant any kind of caffeine aficionado). Bloody Mary addict? Tote along some Annie’s Natural Organic Worcestershire Sauce. I guarantee you someone at your waiter and table will learn something new when you tell them conventional versions are made with anchovies. Feeling risky? Many restaurants offer awesome-looking salads that become more than a little drab when you hold the cheese or shrimp. Sneak a packet of chopped walnuts or pecans into your bag and toss them with your greens for a heartier meal and satisfying crunch.

3. Make a DIY entrée.

See spaghetti and meatballs on the menu? How about a side of sauteed spinach and garlic? Chances are they have the materials to make you a simple spaghetti with tomato sauce and spinach. Does the veggie burger (double check that it wasn’t made with eggs!) look tantalizing but the spicy aioli and melted cheddar cock block you from ordering? Most places should be more than happy to let you skip the sauce and cheese. They may even let you replace it with a hearty topping like avocado or caramelized onions free of charge. Yes, you risk annoying the waiter with a “picky” request, but carnivores do it all the time too, you know. And with the whole gluten-free craze and vegetarians and vegans becoming more mainstream, I promise you they are used to getting these kind of inquiriu es.

Tomorrow I’m excited to be eating at renowned Bill’s Food & Drink. Their menu is heavy on the steak and Reubens. Am I nervous? Not at all.  For a starter, I look forward to the Field Green Salad with shaved fennel, radish and raisins. And for my main, either a Grilled Portabella with roasted pepper and arugula (hold the cheddar and pesto, unless the pesto happens to be vegan) or a platter of delectable sides like red quinoa and citrus, broccoli rabe and yes, french fries with rosemary and sea salt. And for dinner? I have no doubt New York Yankee Steak‘s cuisine will be just like my favorite baseball team: nothing but stellar.

P.S. That delectable soup photo above, yes you can make it with a juicer. And yes you can make a creamy squash soup vegan (just swap milk and cream for non-dairy versions of your choice!). Recipe here.

The Best Chocolate Cake Ever…That Just Happens to Be Vegan and Gluten Free

I know what you’re thinking. The cake pictured above cannot be good for you. And there’s certainly no way it tastes good if it’s vegan and gluten free to boot. It simple cannot. Admittedly, that’s what I feared too. Fortunately, I thought very, very wrong. This practically healthy, fiber-rich cake from baking godsend, Vegan Divas even got my dessert-averse boyfriend and sugar-tooth lacking father sneaking seconds. Since I served the cake at a gathering to celebrate Robert Burns, known as Burns Supper, celebrating his January 25th (1759, folks) birthday, I adorned it with some crafty candles (dork alert). Fair warning: The decadent, dark chocolate-y smell of the fragrant cake might transform your guests into a must-eat-cake coma, so delay serving at your own risk.

Ingredients
6 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 1/2 cups organic coconut milk or vanilla soy milk, gently heated
1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla
1 14-oz can organic pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cup organic golden brown sugar
1/2 cup GF almond flour 
2 tablespoons tapioca or potato starch
1 tablespoon dry Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon or ginger

Instructions:

Place the chocolate pieces in the Vita-Mix (or a high speed blender container); add the heated hemp milk. Cover tightly- use caution with hot liquids. Turn on the mixer to high. Blend until chocolate pieces are melted. Add the vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree. Cover. Blend a minute.

Add the brown sugar, almond flour, tapioca, egg replacer, xanthan gum, sea salt, baking powder, cinnamon or ginger. Cover. Blend on high for a minute. Turn it off (unplug it for safety if you have kids nearby). Open the top and using a plastic spatula scrape down the sides if any flour is sticking to the sides- if you’re using a food processor instead, do the same. Cover. Plug back in.

Blend for another minute or two until the batter is creamy and smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan (valentine’s tin can) ; scrape all the batter out with a smallish silicone spatula. Smooth the top evenly.
Bake in the center of the oven until the cake is firm- anywhere from 50 to 60 minutes. Check the cake sooner if your experience indicates that flourless cakes and pies bake up quicker than 50 minutes; also, if your experience is that these types of recipes bake longer- check at 50 to 55 minutes; and follow your instincts. The center will be the last to cook- it shouldn’t be wiggly.
Cool the cake on a wire rack. The top will collapse a bit- no worries. When the cake has cooled, cover and chill it at least two hours before serving. The longer the better. 

Chilling creates a dense fudgy cake.

Serve with chocolate sauce, a few ripe berries, a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, or a few fresh mint leaves.

Don’t think you can pull it off yourself? Fear not! Order the delectable cake here for Valentine’s Day, along with a wide variety of other Vegan Divas’ pastries and goodies.

Serves 8 to 10. (Or in my case, devoured by six with a side of So Delicious Dairy Free Almond Milk Ice Cream which I don’t think any of my guests would have been able to guess it was vegan, too)

Whoops, got the candles wrong…

Ah, there we go. Much better.

No-Effort, No-Bake Boozy-Nutty-Chocolate-Cherry Cookies

Sometimes when I bake, I preface the recipients’ eating by telling them they are vegan. Or gluten free. Or low in sugar. Just so they know. Okay, and maybe so they don’t critique me as harshly knowing they were made with certain dietary constrictions in mind. No such warning is required for these heavenly desserts. Though if you really want to dazzle guests, you might want to casually mention they’re no-bake after the first bite. Oh, and vegan, gluten free and high in antioxidants and omega 3-s to boot. They’re practically healthy. Especially if you eat five. Yeah, keep telling yourself that.

Inspired by this recipe from Justin Warner, I decided to add some walnuts and pecans for added crunch (and nutritional joy, of course). Follow my adaptions below or get creative and experiment with add-ins like almond slivers, dried cranberries and even cornflakes or Grape Nuts.

Ingredients:
•2 cups Robert Mondavi Private Selection Cabernet Sauvignon (The original recipe called for 1 1/4 cup, start with that, I found that adding more to the final “batter” while mixing created a luscious consistency and made for a great taste)
•1 cup dried sour cherries
•12 oz granola
•12 oz “milk” or chocolate morsels
•1/4 cup chopped pecans
•1/4 cup chopped walnuts
•1 1/2 tsp salt

Assembly
1. Mix granola, chocolate, nuts, salt and whatever additional mix-ins you like (everything but the wine and cherries) into a big bowl so you can pay attention to sautéing them when the time comes and not being distracted by getting everything else ready.

2. Pour dried sour cherries into a medium sauce pan with 1.5 cups of the vino. Stir together over medium heat with a spatula or whatever kind of big spoon you have for ten minutes or so. Once it looks like most of the wine has been absorbed (about 70% or so) you’re good to go to step three.

3. Turn off the heat on your stove. Dump the contents of your mixing bowl into the sauce pan and fold granola mixture into cherries and wine. The chocolate will melt from the heat of the pan. At this point, add another half cup or so of wine, if desired, into the mixture and continue stirring the whole pot into one giant gooey ball of goodness.

From this…

To this…

4. Line a baking pan or sheet with parchment paper. Stick your hands inside two sandwich bags (if you have plastic hair dye type gloves, all the power to you, I didn’t), and mold cookie shaped balls from your batter and transfer to lined pan. Flatten down the balls to desired size and shape. (In my not so scientific rendition, this yielded about 14 cookies varying from medium to extra large and jagged)

5. Let freeze for at least half an hour. Garnish with mint and raspberries, if you want to get all shmancy.
6. Dig in!

P.S. Even though these cookies are “boozy” they might not do the 12% ABV trick, so pair with a wine of choice to keep riding the buzz. My lovely publicist pal Erin sent me this Central Coast Cabernet Sauvignon (and you’ll have leftover from the cookies anyways! At around $10 this wine is a serious steal) went lovely and Prosecco pairs nicely as well.


Because everything looks better on vintage trays…

Doesn’t it?

Or with flowers…

By a windowsill…

Yes, I devoured this whole plate. No, I don’t feel bad about it.