Here’s How You Make 5-Ingredient Guacamole That Isn’t Boring

So many reasons to love this perfect, chunky spread that happens to be naturally vegan. We all know it’s so blah blah blah healthy your gut microbiota does a happy dance, but it also happens to be the most delicious thing to meet sliced bread on a hot summer’s day that I can think of.

Recently, I’ve been recipe testing up a guacamole storm (In fact, I’ve got so much in my fridge, I’ve started using it on pasta in lieu of tomato sauce. Pretty tasty, who knew?) for Camp Sunshine, where I’ll be volunteering later this summer. I’m looking forward to cranking out a classic rendition of it in August with the kids, but a household lime-and-red-tomato shortage (the horror!) led me to stumble upon this fun riff on the classic.

Couldn’t be easier. Here goes:

Kumato-Basil Lemon Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1 Kumato* tomato, small dice
A handful of washed, fresh basil leaves, stems removed and torn or chiffonaded (if you’re feeling fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
The juice from one medium-sized lemon, or to taste
We are not counting salt and pepper as ingredients because that will ruin the 5-ingredient wonder, but you can add these

*Pictured below, Kumato tomatoes are mildly sweet, crisp and juicy brown-red-green-purpley tomatoes that are worth checking out.FullSizeRender (7)

1. Scoop out avocados into bowl and combine with tomato, basil, olive oil and lemon juice. Mash with fork to desired consistency Add sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. A flip of cayenne pepper for heat. Serve immediately or store in fridge and squeeze lemon over it every few hours to keep from oxidizing. Or if you forget to do that, squeeze with lemon before serving and hope it de-browns.

 

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Meanwhile, like in life, one good thing leads to another (or an occasional bad decision) and four avocados later, I arrived at another hit.

 

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Behold:  Spicy Caper-Spiked Kumato-Basil Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1 Kumato tomato, small dice
A handful of washed, fresh basil leaves, stems removed and torn or chiffonaded (if you’re feeling fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
The juice from one medium-sized lemon, or to taste
Cayenne and paprika, to taste (I used a dash of each)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Splash Balsamic vinegar (optional)

1. Follow the same directions as above but with this set of ingredients. I’m pretty sure you know how to make guacamole. This rendition works particularly well spread on toast or, if you’re note feeling vegan, spread out as a bed for a plan of grilled salmon.

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Food Blog Hero Q&A with Holy Cow Vegan: Vegan Indian Food You Didn’t Know You Crave

The real title of this blog should be “Food Blog Hero Q&A with Holy Cow Vegan: Vegan Indian Food You Didn’t Know You Crave…But Must Tackle Immediately.”

Recently, I was lucky enough to pick the brain of one of my favorite food bloggers, Vaishali of Holy Cow Vegan. Her tantalizing vegan recipes (many of them Indian) run the spectrum from signature Bombay street food, Misal (If you’re not familiar, heck, even if you are, run, don’t walk) to banana coffee cake with chocolate streusel (both pictured below, courtesy of author). Her blog makes pulling off seemingly-complicated dishes approachable and fun, and her recipes never fail to introduce me to a brilliant flavor-pairing (zucchini for dessert, who knew?) or clever ways to spike a dish with not-your-average-spice-rack spices.

Misal

Banana Coffee Cake

Banana Chocolate Coffee Cake

1. What’s your favorite vegetable to cook with and why? Is there a secret-weapon veggie you use to slip into salads or soups or entrees that makes it super special? 

“I love cooking with most vegetables, but mushrooms are definitely one of my favorites. Although they’ve not been part of traditional Indian cooking, mushrooms go with virtually anything — I’ve tried them in curries, dals, sabzis (Indian side dishes) and even stuffed them in a paratha. I also love how mushrooms of all kinds contribute rich textures to vegan cooking. And they’re super-good for you, which is a huge bonus.”

2. What are your tips for ordering vegan Indian food when out? It can get tricky sometime! Is non-vegan? Any tips for decoding a menu or how to ask a waiter to make a non-vegan dish (say a stew made with ghee or dairy) vegan-friendly? Any vegan desserts on menus when eating out?

“I am not one of those vegans who will quiz a waiter about every last ingredient, especially when I am eating out with friends. The reason is that I don’t want to make a vegan lifestyle appear ridiculously unattainable to others. I usually ask the waiter if there is any ghee or cream in a vegetarian dish like a dal and if they say no, I will eat it. You might not always get dishes like dals and stews made to order because the ghee is part of the base when the dish is cooked, but with breads you have a little more leeway, since they will most often make them fresh for you and the ghee, in most cases, goes on the bread at the very end. It’s a little tough to get vegan Indian desserts in restaurants since Indian sweets are almost always milk-based, but jalebis are an option, if available. They are swirly yellow sweets made of chickpea flour and dunked in sugar syrup. They are delicious.”

3. What’s your favorite vegan Indian dish that anyone can (and should!) add to their repertoire of dinner options?

“Most vegans are really into dals when it comes to Indian foods, but I’d encourage them to try more curries made with vegetables and often a coconut and spice base, like My Dad’s Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry. While dals are wonderful for adding protein into your meal, curries like this one really perk up the taste buds and are a great introduction to the rich, varied cuisine of India.”

4. What advice would you offer to aspiring food bloggers?

“I’d advise them to blog with love. There are a zillion food blogs out there today, each one better looking than the next and SEO’d to the eyeballs, but when I think of great food blogging I always hark back to the early days when bloggers wrote about foods they cooked at home for the people they loved and why they created them, rather than just cook and post the hottest thing on Google Trends. I might be old-fashioned, but I think blogs that really engage you and have a personality are the ones that pull in and retain a loyal following. And here’s one more piece of advice: Check your grammar before you hit “publish.” 🙂 You don’t have to be a great writer, but there’s nothing as off-putting as a post with spelling and grammatical errors.”

*proofreads three times*

If I had to pick, Vaishali’s grain dishes are probably some of my favorites, and she’s been kind enough to let me share the photo of one of my favorites, Tawa Pulao. A serious treat for your senses and time-saver on weeknights. Get the recipe here.

Tawa Pulao

Easy Vegan Fall Pasta Even Carnivores Will Crave

Lately, I’ve been really inspired by this thing called carbs. Luckily, when they come accompanied by loads of wholesome goodness and veggies, you don’t have to serve ’em with a side order of guilt. Behold: Last week’s Meatless Monday’s (erm, two Thursday agos…) Pasta extravaganza at Bob & Su’s.
Su and I tossed together this simple pasta salad, while Bob eagerly eyed the prime rib defrosting on the counter. Luckily, by the end of this hearty feasty, all parties had lost interest in steak. Heck, all we could even manage for dessert was raspberries (okay, drizzled with balsamic. and chocolate. lots of chocolate-covered stuff).
As it turned out, the meal was completely vegan (also pictured: simple roasted squash, a beet-studded salad, and caramelized Brussels sprouts), but I don’t think anybody noticed. 
Pasta
1 box mini shells
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 bunch bok choi
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
Whatever vegetables you have and want to add
olive oil, lots of
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Add oil to hot pan and saute onion until brown.
2. Add peppers and bok choi to mixture.
3. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions on box.
4. Add canned tomatoes to pan’s mixture and continue simmering for fifteen minutes or so. Drizzle in more oil. And then probably some more.
5. Season as desired. Pour mixture over pasta and mix thoroughly.
*Note: You don’t have to use pasta shells for this recipe, but as Su wisely pointed out to me, the sauce clings nicely to the pliable shells, likely better than it would to ziti or spaghetti. If you’re lucky, some onion-y bits and tomato-y goodness will hide in the  shells’ nooks for some of the tastiest bites.”

Spicy Paprika-Dusted Spaghetti Squash Seeds

The above is just a fancy way of saying I roasted spaghetti squash seeds and threw a bunch of good spices on them. Consider it your reward for the nuisance that is figuring out how the hell to cut a squash in half without slicing your hand off, pulling your tricep (Life-changing tip: You can roast it whole, or throw it in the oven for 10 minutes to soften up, and then cut it in half), or both.

It’s so easy, and the result is a real treat. Eat them as a snack (you’ll never pay $4 for over-salted, under-seasoned sunflower seeds again) or toss them into salads as a crunchy topper or sprinkle over warm dishes as a seasonal garnish.

The ugly before…

The prettier after…

Ingredients
Seeds of one spaghetti squash, scraped out
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Whatever other seasonings you want slash have on hand
1. Line tinfoil with spaghetti squash seeds. Pour olive oil and spices over and toss with hands until evenly coated.
2. Roast in 200° oven for 20 minutes, or until seeds have reached desired crispy-ness. 
Feel free to add to main dish, like I did below in this eggplant-onion saute, but make sure you don’t try one before stirring into the mix (because once you pop one, they’ll probably all be gone before you make it to this step)

No-Bake Chocolate Hemp Truffles Anyone Can Make

First off, a confession: These are just tasty, dessert-y, chocolate balls (that yes, I somehow . But Somehow, calling them Truffles instead of Balls or Balls of Deliciousness just sounded better. So yeah. Second off: It is impossible to eat just one. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Ingredients
1/4 cup cocoa or raw cacao or carob powder
1/3 cup Hemp Pro70 Chocolate
1 cup nut or seed butter (stirred well, really well)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown rice syrup (you can use agave syrup if you’d like, or honey if you eat it!)
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch sea salt
2 tbsp Hemp Hearts (I also throw these in shakes and salad dressings for an extra dose of “hey, I’m doing a good thing, body!”)

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl to create a uniform texture.
2. Fold in wet ingredients by hand.
3. Form into 1-inch balls and roll in Hemp Hearts.

Pro-tip: Make a double batch. Especially if you use them for post-workout recovery. Erm, or, just to fuel your bedroom dancing to the 48th Annual CMA Awards. Yeah, or that.

Chocolate-Cranberry Bark That Will Make Your Fall Heart Melt

Right now, the three things that make me happiest are as follows (in no particular order):
1) Beer-soaked bro-country (yes, I said it)
2) My guilty pleasure obsession with 19 Kids and Counting/ 90 Day Fiance (yes, I know)
3) Eating dessert first…and second…and third…

And with no further ado, the dessert I can’t stop eating: Dark Chocolate Covered Crack. Erm, Dark Chocolate Bark spiked with Cranberries and Almonds and Other Goodness. Picked up the recipe at Food Fete last week, and have subsisted on a steady stream of this healthy chocolate bark (Yes, it’s superfoods-loaded) from the folks at Nature’s Path ever since for breakfast, lunch, and that yes-I-deserve-a-snack-while-cooking-dinner treat. Enjoy!

 


Serves 12 
Prep Time: 10 minutes 
Cook Time: 10 minutes 

Ingredients
12 ounces good quality organic dark chocolate, finely chopped  (at least 70% dark chocolate)
3/4 cup Nature’s Path Qi’a – Cranberry Vanilla, divided
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 tsp sea salt (optional)

Line a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper so it overhangs the ends. Reserve 2 tbsp Qi’a for sprinkling on top of the bark. Place the chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until melted. Remove from heat.

Stir in the remaining Qi’a and almonds. Pour onto the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the reserved Qi’a and sea salt (if using). Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chocolate is set.

Remove from pan and peel off the parchment paper. Break the bark into pieces. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Fall Sips: Because It’s Still Summer…Somewhere?

…which means it’s totally acceptable to drink on a Monday night, right? Right! (or Tuesday, or Wednesday, and goes-without-saying Thursday)

If you’ve spoken to me in the past, uh, month, you’ve probably heard me complain about (among many, many other things) the lack of seasonal sense you get living in Manhattan. Though I wouldn’t trade my home sweet home for anything (well, excepts Nashville…), you really can’t appreciate the gorgeous fall foliage and shift in the seasons here in NYC. You can however, sip it. And sip I did when mixing up these killer cocktails from Jay Zimmerman of the Sekend Sun. You’ll be in safe hands at a bar helmed by Mr.Zimmerman, industry vet, come early November when this gem of a cocktail bar opens up, and best of all, you’ll have another reason to beat yourself up for not heading to Astoria more often.

Black Baby Grand by Jay Zimmerman of Sekend Sun
1 1/2 oz Jameson Irish Whiskey
3/4 oz China China Amer
2 drops orange flower water
2 dash barrel aged angostura bitters
Sugar cube
In a rocks glass muddle sugar cube, bitters and orange flower water. 
Add Whiskey, Amer and ice cubes. 
Stir 20-30 times. 
Garnish with grapefruit twist.

Remember Dead River by Jay Zimmerman of Sekend Sun
2 oz Old Overholt rye whiskey
3/4 oz Cocchi Di Torino sweet vermouth
1/4 oz Lapsang Souchong Cherry Heering
Dash absinthe
2 dash Angostura bitters
Add all ingredients to mixing glass with ice and stir 20-30 times.
Strain into cocktail glass and garnish with lemon twist.