Feast On This!

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done a Feast on This! post, but seeing as it’s cold season, I thought I’d repeat some information from a previous FOT post from a year ago.

A Veggie A Day Keeps The Colds (and Cancer) Away

It’s that time of year. Cold season. Although we can’t always avoid getting the traveling crud, there are ways to boost your immune and shorten the length of the cold or flu. And guess what? They’re all plant-based. No surprise there. Experts tend to agree that it’s best to avoid supplements and go straight for the real thing. For example, eat an orange rather than popping a supplement since you’ll also get magnesium, potassium, folate, B6 and antioxidants.  Fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants that are also key in fighting many cancers.

When I feel a cold coming on, I reach for kale every time. I steam it for no more than 5 minutes and enjoy it with just a smidge Earth Balance.

Works every single time! I also pair it with some Kick-Ass Immune, an herbal supplement that lives up to its name. It tastes pretty awful, but it’s worth it.


Vegetables:

  • Leafy Greens–Spinach, Swiss Chard, Mustard Greens & Kale: are loaded with antioxidants. Steam some kale and spinach and add a little Earth Balance, which has lots of Omega-3.
  • Broccoli, Green Peppers & Cauliflower: High in Vitamin C.
  • Orange Veggies–Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, Squash and Pumpkins: are loaded with Beta carotene which turns to Vitamin A, that is rich in antioxidants (which is also cancer-fighting).

Fruits:

  • Apples: contain antioxidants and insoluble and soluble fiber to help the bowels run smooth (always a good thing)
  • Kiwi, Oranges, Grapefruits & Cantelopes: High in Vitamin C and A and oranges and grapefruits are actually cheaper in the winter.
  • Blueberries and Raspberries: Rich in antioxidants and Vitamin B.
  • Strawberries: 8 berries supply 160% of your daily value of Vitamin C, as well as 170 mg of potassium.

Other Good Stuff:

  • Onions, Garlic, Leeks, & Chives: loaded with Vitamin C, potassium, chromium and selenium.
  • Ginger: Strong in antioxidants and helps with digestion and circulation.
  • Whole Grains, Quinoa, Barley & Amaranth: packed with fiber, zinc, and B vitamins.
  • Seeds: Lots of Vitamin E

Tips to Staying Healthy

  • Stick to organic: free of chemicals and contain more nutrients.
  • Avoid processed, canned or frozen food (With the exception of vegetables—steam or microwave them) but even avoid canned soups–they’re not fresh and are full of sodium.
  • Keep away from excess sugar. If you need a sugar fix, eat some strawberries.
  • Make some soup with vegetable broth, ginger, spinach, and green onions.
  • Eat some hot salsa or sprinkle some cayenne on steamed veggies to clear the sinuses.
  • Chew (and swallow) a garlic clove to cure a cough—some people swear by it. Just don’t breath on anyone.

Bottom line, stick with fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, and avoid hard-to-digest and processed foods. Don’t forget to drink tons of water and only 100% juice with a low sugar content. Then boil some fresh ginger, pour it through a strainer into your favorite mug, add a bit of fresh lemon juice and settle in with a good book!


Meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use… It’s time we looked into holding the meat producers and fast-food outlets legally accountable. 
-Dr. Neal Barnard

Potato, White Bean & Kale Soup

Potato, White Bean and Kale Soup -- Epicurean VeganWe received about 10″ of snow yesterday. The day before was up in the ’70s. That’s Colorado for you. And I am not a fan of Old Man Winter, but I do love to make soups, which are a staple during these cold, snowy months. This soup not only warms you up, but it’ll heal what ails you. Kale is a powerful veggie. It’s packed full of antioxidants which are essential in fighting chronic illnesses including heart disease and cancer. It works as an anti-inflammatory, helping those who suffer from joint pain to fibromyalgia. Loaded with calcium, vitamin C, Vitamin B6, folic acid, and potassium, kale is one of the best weapons against a cold. Let’s not forget the power of mushrooms, too, which are rich in potassium, riboflavin, niacin (B3), and selenium. Mushrooms have been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as breast and prostate cancers. They’re your immune system’s best friend. So load this soup up with lots of kale and mushrooms—your body with thank you.

INGREDIENTS:
1-2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs garlic, minced
2 large leeks, chopped
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 C mushrooms, sliced
1 15-oz can Great Northern Beans
2 carrots, peeled and chopped small
8 C low-sodium vegetable stock
1 sprig rosemary
A dash or two of cayenne
Salt and pepper

We brought the rosemary inside just in time. The basil, however . . .

 . . . has seen better days. My neighbor suggested cutting it down and placing it in our sunroom. Operation Save Basil has commenced.

DIRECTIONS:
I recommend having all of the ingredients chopped and ready to go before you start. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the leek and carrots and saute for about 5 minutes, or until the leeks starts to brown. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes, cayenne, and rosemary sprig; cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened. Stir in the beans, kale, and mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Let simmer another 5-7 minutes, or until the kale is wilted.

Potato, White Bean and Kale Soup -- Epicurean Vegan

Remove and discard the rosemary sprig and enjoy!

 

Win a Copy of Peas and Thank You!

I wanted to take this chance to introduce a friend of mine. Carolyn and I met many years ago during a novel-writing class and we’ve been (writing) pals ever since.  Over at Hooked and Happy, Carolyn is giving away a copy of Peas and Thank You, a vegan cookbook! Click HERE to enter for your chance to win.

Spend some time at Hooked and Happy—it’s full of fun, witty, and practical ideas, recipes, and musing!

Vegan French Toast

Vegan French Toast -- Epicurean VeganRecently, I’ve discovered The Vegan Zombie, and as you can imagine it’s been a hit with the Seventh Grader. Where else can you watch a YouTube zombie movie and get a great recipe at the same time? (You can also forgo the movie and jump to the recipe portion). They even have a kid-friendly version of certain zombie videos. So over the weekend, the kid and I made this French Toast courtesy of these zombie fighting vegans.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup soy milk (I used almond milk)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tbsp corn starch (I used arrowroot)
2 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 loaf of French bread, sliced

DIRECTIONS:
Using a whisk, combine all the ingredients (except the bread, of course) in a small bowl. Dip the bread slices in the mixture and coat well.

Vegan French Toast -- Epicurean Vegan

Place in a hot large skillet coated with cooking spray. Brown each side, about 3 minutes per side.

Vegan French Toast -- Epicurean Vegan

Top with some Earth Balance margarine and syrup. Enjoy (zombie-free, hopefully).

Plum and Pear Cobbler

Plum n' Pear Cobbler -- Epicurean VeganAdmittedly, I’m not  great about eating fruit. Very rarely, I’ll bite into an apple, but give me a luscious bunch of kale and I’m all over it. So I always feel bad when I have to toss squishy apples and pears away because no one has eaten them. But baked fruit, I can do. I’ll take apple pie or a fruit tart over chocolate cake any day, and add some nondairy ice cream and I’m a happy camper. I wasn’t about to let these pears and plums whither away on my counter, so the Seventh Grader and I made this wonderful cobbler!

Plum n' Pear Cobbler -- Epicurean Vegan

INGREDIENTS:
4 pears, sliced (leave the skins on)
4-5 plums, slice (with skins)
1/2 C brown sugar
2 Tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C Earth Balance margarine, cut into chunks
1 C oats
1/4 C almond milk (or other nondairy milk)
Nondairy ice cream (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375. Combine the fruit in a baking dish–an 8×8 would be fine.

Plum n' Pear Cobbler -- Epicurean Vegan

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, butter, oats, and milk. Use a fork or pastry blender to combine everything; making sure the butter turns to small pea-sized pieces. It will be a wet mixture. Top the fruit with the oat mixture.

Plum n' Pear Cobbler -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake covered for 20-25 minutes. (It will smell sooooo good baking . . . :) ) Top with some nondairy ice cream and thoroughly enjoy!

Plum n' Pear Cobbler -- Epicurean Vegan

Calling all writers . . . get organized with a writing planner!

I’ve been very busy these days between finishing my book, gearing up for the 2012 NCW Writers Conference, and doing an illustrations for a writing planner. I guess that’s why my recipe posting has taken a back seat lately. 

Every writer could use a planner to help them stay on track. My friend, Kerrie Flanagan, director of the Northern Colorado Writers, publishes a writing planner every year. She asked me to do the illustrations for the 2012 version and I couldn’t be more thrilled with this project. In addition to writing, art is a passion of mine—even majored in it. (Word of advice for you youngins’: don’t major in fine arts. It sounds great now, but wait until you need to go to work in the real world . . .)

So I’m excited to be tapping into more of my right brain by returning to illustration. The planner is especially designed for writers to help keep them organized and on-task. Writing is a journey, thus, the theme of this planner. Each illustration portrays a different literary journey, such as The Road Not Taken, Alice in Wonderland, and the Odyssey, to name a few.

The planner will be available November 15th, but you can pre-order one for $13.95, $18, with shipping.

Around the World in 80 Days

If you’d like to pre-order your planner (and ones for your writing friends . . . ) visit the Northern Colorado Writers and order online. Thanks in advance for your support!

Homemade Ravioli

Homemade Ravioli -- Epicurean VeganI bought a pasta maker many years ago and used it a few times. Then, two years ago, when we moved, I couldn’t find the damn thing. Even though it was something I hardly used, I was determined to find it. But I couldn’t. I figured it had run off with my white Chantel soup pot because it too, was missing. So last December, I was digging around in the laundry room for something else entirely, when I opened a bin that was supposed to contain miscellaneous crap. Well, there it was. Along with soup pot. I let out a celebratory yelp and the Husband rushed in, wondering what my deal was. When I showed him that I finally captured the elusive kitchen appliance, I assumed he’d be as excited as I was and happy that I’d quit lamenting over losing the thing. But he didn’t seem too thrilled.  He left the room and returned with a wrapped box, about the same size of the box I held in my hands. “I’ll take this one back tomorrow,” he mumbled. He had gotten me a new pasta maker to replace the one I “lost.” He was really happy that I found it, but then he had to come up with something else to give me for Christmas.

So jump to October 2011, nearly a year later. It was the first time I used that stupid pasta maker since finding it. I know, it’s terrible . . . the Husband wasn’t even home to enjoy these raviolis! But now that I have some practice, I’ll make more of an effort to use it because there’s nothing like fresh pasta. Making fresh pasta, however, isn’t always easy, especially raviolis—it will take some trial and error to get these right. Regardless of their less-than-pretty appearance, they were delicious!

INGREDIENTS:
Dough:
1 C flour
1 C semolina flour
Dash of salt
1 Tbs olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 C water

Filling: (I used my go-to ricotta cheese recipe)
1-14oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/3 C nutritional yeast
1 C fresh basil
2 Tbs fresh rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 C Daiya mozzarella shreds

The rest:
1 jar of marinara or spaghetti sauce

DIRECTIONS:
Using a food processor with the sharp blade, pulse the flours and salt together. While the machine is running, add the oil and water. The dough shouldn’t be sticky.

Homemade Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

Knead the dough using some all purpose flour. Using small pieces of dough, feed it into the pasta maker—the widest setting, then one notch thinner, then a third time on the next thinner notch. The Seventh Grader and I didn’t quite figure this method out until halfway through, but oh well, we had fun experimenting. His job was to cut the rolled out dough into squares.

Homemade Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

Place the squares on a cookie sheet or cutting board to dry a little—about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all the filling ingredients, except the mozzarella, in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese. Place a small scoop, about a teaspoon of filling in the middle of each ravioli square.

Homemade Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

There are other ways of doing this. I think it’s better to NOT cut squares first, but to have a long piece of rolled out dough, place the filling dollops in a line and fold over the dough, then cut using a pastry wheel to seal the edges.

Homemade Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

I finally got smart and used the pastry wheel to seal the edges instead of a using a fork, but accumulated an unusable pile of dough shrapnel.

Anyway, we ended up with pretty ghetto ravioli.

Homemade Ravioli -- Epicurean Vegan

In batches of 5-6, add them to boiling water and cook for about 2-3 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon. Top with warm spaghetti sauce and enjoy!

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Empanadas

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Empanadas -- Epicurean VeganI was in charge of bringing an appetizer to a get together this weekend. I try to make something that I haven’t already brought a million times before, I just have to hope they turn out if I’m making them for the first time. How do you do that? I don’t know, just make these! :) When my mother-in-law called this morning to get the recipe, I knew I must have done something good!

INGREDIENTS:
Dough:
3 C all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 C Earth Balance margarine
1/2 C almond milk

Filling:
12-oz Tofutti or Galaxy Foods brand vegan cream cheese
1-1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
6-7 green onions, sliced
5-6 (depending on how hot they are) jalapenos, finely chopped (You can use canned, too)
1/2 C vegan Monterrey jack or mozzarella, shredded
About 1-1/2 Tbs lime juice
A few dashes of garlic salt

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400. To make the dough, use a mixer to blend the flour, salt, and butter until you get a crumbly mixture where most of the butter pieces are small. While mixing, gradually add the milk. You may not use all of it–just enough to make a dough that sticks together to make a ball. You can wrap it in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge while you make the filling.

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients using the mixer. I eyeballed the lime juice–just enough to flavor and thin the mixture out. A tablespoon may be plenty. Same with the garlic salt; just to taste.

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about an 1/8″ to a 1/4″ thick. I cut out 4″ circles by cutting around the bottom of my 4″ tart pans, but a wide mouth glass, or round cookie cutter would work great. Place about a tablespoon or so of filling in the center of the dough circle, but spread it out so it’s kinda long and narrow.

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan

You’re then going to fold the dough in half and crimp the edges closed with a fork. Make sure the edges get good and sealed, otherwise, they’ll puff up in the oven and come open.

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan

Bake for about 25-30 minutes.  About halfway through, I brushed the tops with olive oil.All ovens run different, so you may need to bake them longer or for less time; check periodically. Serve with salsa. Enjoy!

Cream Cheese and Jalapeno Empanadas -- Epicurean Vegan

Yield: about 28

Zucchini and Field Roast Stuffed Peppers

Zucchini and Field Roast Stuffed Peppers -- Epicurean VeganI feel a little guilty that I’m not participating in VeganMoFo this year. I was out of town the first couple days of October on a writing retreat and came back to a full plate of projects. October is just going to be a busy month. But a vegan’s gotta eat, so I’ll share new recipes when I can. (And no this isn’t a repeat post—we do love stuffed peppers around here). They’re simple to make and ideal for fall. You can also stuff zucchinis, squashes, and eggplant, too.

INGREDIENTS:
3 large bell peppers, any color
1 Field Roast sausage, Mexican Chipotle flavor, crumbled
1-1/2 C zucchini, diced
1-1/2 C mushrooms, sliced
1/2 a large onion, diced
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
1/3 C vegan cheddar, shredded
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375. Cut the tops off the peppers and clean out the innards. Place into a baking dish, preferably with high sides, and sprinkle a little bit of vegan cheddar on the bottom; set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the zucchini, onion, and Field Roast. Cook until the zucchini and onion begins to soften, then add the mushrooms. Cook another 3-4 minutes, then stir in the cilantro.

Zucchini and Field Roast Stuffed Peppers -- Epicurean Vegan

Evenly divide the stuffing amongst the 3 bell peppers. Bake for 22 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake for another 4-5 minutes. Enjoy!