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Posts Tagged ‘Veganizable’

Minty green gazpacho.

Happy Summer, everyone. Having at least a little fun? Eaten anything amazing lately? Hope so.

Honestly, my eating habits have been a real snoozefest these days, and all of these heat waves have done a number on my appetite and motivation to create new recipes. Do we really need another quinoa salad blueprint? It’s just a hunch, but I’m pretty sure you can rig up your own romaine salad with sliced strawberries and toasted pine nuts. Right? Right.

Spotted so many varieties of mint at the NYC Union Square Greenmarket the other day.

However, a flash of inspiration and a tad of laziness actually inspired a recipe worth sharing:  Minty Green Gazpacho. This all happened because my Ayurvedic doc, Pratima, recommended that I limit my consumption of tomatoes. This is the amazing woman whose regimen and advice got my skin from painfully and constantly breaking out to totally clear, calm,  and makeup-free. So when she gives me dietary advice, I tend to follow it (for the most part; I’m not perfect).

Another farmer’s market shot.

I do LOVE a good gazpacho, but she’s right…it’s a bit heating for me, especially in the summer. Plus, I was looking for something soupy, cooling and velvety to enjoy for lunch one day. Something green that would nourish but not weigh me down or sap my energy. Fresh mint, zucchini, and cucumbers at the farmers inspired me.

This soup comes together quickly in a blender or food processor, and can be served hot, cold, or at room temp.

Minty Green Summer Gazpacho

Yield: 8 cups (64 ounces). Recipe can easily be halved.

  • 3 large zucchini, or 6 medium
  • 4 kirby cucumbers (kirbies are best because they are crisp, but use what you can easily get. Peel if you wish.)
  • 4-6 cups Water (amount can vary a lot due to how watery your zucchini and cucumbers are)
  • Seasoning packet or bouillon cube of choice (I used this stuff by Goya. So sue me).
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 small onion
  • Fresh mint: start with 2 Tablespoons, add up to a cup (but add in stages, as it can be strong. If you don’t have fresh mint, use another herb you like, such as basil, or a tiny amount of mint extract. Like not even 1/8 of a teaspoon of extract to start. Whether using extract or herbs, start with a small amount, blend, taste, and adjust)

1. Chop half of the zucchini and half of the cucumbers into chunks your blender can handle. Add chunks to your blender, along with liquid, seasoning packet, and garlic.  Add more liquid as needed. Blend until smooth. I used my Vitamix, and with the lid securely attached, was able to let the soup lightly cook/blend as I worked on step 2. . . .

2. As the soup blends, dice your remaining zucchini and cucumbers. Dice the onion as well. Prepare the avocado (removing pit and scooping out flesh).

3.  Now blend in the mint (or extract) and avocado. In the Vita-mix, I added these final 2 ingredients in after blending for 5-6 minutes. I blended for one more minute.

4. Test for seasoning and adjust and re-blend as needed. Pour soup into a serving bowl, and gently mix in diced zucchini, onions, and cucumbers. Garnish with fresh mint and serve, or allow to cool in fridge and serve cold.

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Nutella cakes are easy to throw together.

My first memories of Nutella are from way back when, during my first semester at Columbia. That’s when I first tasted this hazelnut and chocolate blend of European origin. I’ve loved it ever since. Somehow, it brings back memories of my time at alma mater. For a lot of people, Nutella is the taste of childhood memories. For me, the taste reminds me of truly feeling like adult. On my own, in a strange city, thousands of miles from family, and being fine. Happy even.

Alma mater.

It also reminds me of one the only phases in my life during which my fridge wasn’t packed. A bit of context: I’ve never truly been That Girl with a sparsely packed fridge. (What a blessing, to have this problem). Anyways, if anything, I’m That Other Girl with both a fridge and freezer that are packed. Packed, I say. To the point that my current freezer appeared to not be working some months back. So I called my super. And he called a repairman. My landlord paid the guy to come out and tell me (wait for it). . .

. . .that my freezer was too packed, and it’d start working again swimmingly if I just got rid of some stuff, already.

Oh dear.  I’m sure my psychologist friend and I could have a field day with analyzing why I do this to my appliances.

Turns out the repairman was right. But I consoled myself by telling myself that my lack of common sense had kept this guy working, at least for part of one day. My own personal contribution to the economy, and during a recession, no less!

Nutella! One person’s taste of childhood is another’s taste of emerging adulthood.

Anyways, the point here being that my time at Columbia was about the only time that I had a fridge that wasn’t jammed to the max. I’m not sure exactly why (again, my shrink friend could probably be of help here. . .)

The edibles I did have on hand,  were of the highest quality (for a student).  In no particular order, most all of it purchased from Westside Supermarket:

  • Nutella (yes, I kept it in the fridge. No I am not THAT dumb. I just wanted to prevent myself from gobbling tons of it at room temp, because, admit it, it tastes better at room temp).
  • Smoked gouda cheese (HAD to be smoked!)
  • Almonds (usually smoked)
  • Bagged spinach
  • Alcohol (wine and vodka, mostly)
  • Lindor truffles by Lindt (this was back before they were available at a Wal-Mart near you)
  • A roasted chicken (sometimes)
  • Bread (kept in the fridge to prevent it from molding)
  • Apples
  • And yes, I had a tendency to “fridge” things that really shouldn’t be “fridged.” I’ve learned. I think.

My friend dubbed these PMS cakes.

But mostly I lived off of cheese, almonds, and spoonfuls of Nutella. And I drank quite a few meals, I must say. Ahem.

I certainly wasn’t ambitious enough to throw together mini-nutella cakes back during my Columbia Daze, which is too bad, because they’re so simple. The cakes, not the Columbia Daze. Gluten-free wasn’t a buzzword back in those days, either, but hey, we’ve all moved on, haven’t we? I know I have…I’ve evolved enough that the meal I drink most nowadays is a green smoothie for breakfast. And I now realize one can eat Nutella in ways that don’t involve licking it off the spoon. At least sometimes. Ahem…

No ramekins? No problem. Use small, oven-safe coffee cups or bowls.

Nutella Cakes (Gluten Free, Kinda High in Protein)

Yield: 3 to 4 small cakes. Depends on the size of your ramekins or whatever small, oven-safe bowl you bake them in. Recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc.

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (could use gluten free flour of choice, or if GF isn’t a concern, regular flour should work here, too. I like coconut flour because it’s rich, and has a lot of protein and fiber)
  • 1/2 cup Nutella (Thank you Costco, for keeping my Nutella costs in line; if vegan is a concern, find a vegan chocolate hazelnut or almond butter)
  • Splash of milk of choice (amount can vary…start out with a Tablespoon)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips plus a Tablespoon or two extra

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  As oven heats, in a mixing bowl, combine the flour and milk. Mix lightly until pasty, but still pliable. If too dry, add in a bit more milk.

2. Add in Nutella and stir until combined.

3. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Spoon mixture into small ramekins (fill them 2/3 to 3/4 full). Top each cake with a few reserved chocolate chips. Bake for 15 minutes. (Check for doneness after 10-12 minutes, by poking a knife or a fork into center of cakes). Personally, I like my cakes a bit undercooked and gooey, and hey, it’s safe to do that here, because there are no eggs in this recipe.

BRIA’S NOTE: If vegan and/or gluten free are of concern, be sure to double check all your ingredients’ labels. Can bake one at a time. Keep the remaining dough, covered, in the fridge. Load up a ramekin and bake when desired/as needed. Because we all need chocolate sometimes, yes? Plus, the one little dessert at time is a very college-like thing, isn’t it?

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Frozen Hot Chocolate with an optional dollop of creamy goat milk yogurt and a dusting of nutmeg to give it a Middle Eastern flair. Leave out the goat yogurt and use a non-dairy milk and voila! It's vegan. Either way, it's elegant, portion-controlled, and so smooth!

Does this ever happen to you? The weather is cold. Even snowing, perhaps, like it is in New York City at this very moment. And all of a sudden, nothing sounds quite as good as a frozen treat of some kind?

This sort of thing definitely happens to me. Maybe it’s the warmth of being indoors. Or not; I’ve had these cravings strike while trudging through a blizzard. No joke.

Craving cool sweets in this type of weather? Why yes, I sometimes do.

At times like these, my easy Frozen Hot Chocolate could fit the bill nicely. It’s quick and simple to make, and there are many options as to how you take your chocolate. You could drink it immediately, or let it chill overnight in the fridge so that it takes an almost pudding-like texture. Plus, there are numerous ways to top this treat. I like to keep it simple, so let’s get right down to the base recipe:

A versatile and easy recipe that can be enjoyed immediately or later on.I prefer mine plain, but a dollop of goat yogurt and a sprinkling of nutmeg looks and tastes lovely, too.

Frozen Hot Chocolate w/Optional Goat Yogurt Topping

Ingredients:

1 1/2 ounces bittersweet or unsweetened dark chocolate

2 Tablespoons agave nectar or granulated sugar (you can adjust this amount to your taste)

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup and also 1/2 cup milk of choice (I used a combo of rice milk and coconut milk)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/1/2 cups ice (approx 8 standard ice cubes)

Optional: extra thick (strained) goat yogurt for topping

Other optional toppings: ground nutmeg, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chocolate shavings. Feel free to get creative or leave out the toppings entirely.

Directions:

1.  Over a low heat, gently melt chocolate chips or chunks. Stir frequently to prevent burning or sticking. Remove from heat and use a spatula to transfer the chocolate to a medium-sized bowl.

2. Into the chocolate, whisk in the sweetener of choice, adjusting the amount to your taste.  Whisk in cocoa powder and vanilla extract and make sure the mixture is well-blended.

3. Let this mixture cool slightly, then stir in 1/4 cup of the milk. (You could stop here and have a very thick, rich, no bake mousse/pudding like scenario. Or you could continue on. . .)

4. Now puree chocolate mixture, the 1/2 cup of milk and the ice in a blender.

5. Divide between 4 shot glasses or espresso cups. Enjoy immediately, or chill overnight and top with toppings of choice. If you chill this mixture overnight, it will have a thicker texture that’s almost pudding-like that you can drink or enjoy with a spoon.

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