I’m four weeks into the gluten-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free vegan diet. I AM STILL ALIVE (and four pounds lighter)!
Seriously – it’s not that hard. While I have had several occasions over the past few weeks where I have felt deprived of what everyone else is eating and drinking, it’s really not been very difficult to do. I have eaten lots of vegetables and brown rice, lots of quinoa and beans, and practically lived on hummus as a snack.
I wanted to share a few good recipes I’ve made up over the past week. Please note that my cooking philosophy is very much a “throw stuff in until it tastes good” one, so don’t necessarily adhere strictly to the measurements I’m going to give – I’m just estimating what I did:
Beanoa Burgers (pronounced “bean-wah”)
Cooked quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) – about a cup
One can kidney beans, drained
One can black beans, drained
One medium sized yellow or red onion, chopped finely
Diced red/yellow/green peppers, about a half cup
Herbs and spices you like – fresh garlic, basil, dried spices like paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper
Oat flour (if you are gluten-free – if you are not, you can use whole wheat flour)
Dump both cans of beans into a large bowl and mix with a potato masher. Stir in the onions, quinoa and everything else except the flour. Taste it and see if you like the flavor – if not, add more spices!
Form into burger shapes and dredge each one in the flour; place on a plate so that you can add them to the pan all at the same time.
Heat up some olive oil in a wide-bottom pan until, as my mom would say, it’s screaming hot. If you need my mom to come over and tell you what that means, let me know. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the burgers in and let them sit – DON’T MOVE THEM AROUND. After a few minutes you can lift one up and see if it has a little “crust” on the bottom. When they reach that point, flip them gently. The quinoa gives these burgers a little bit of crunch and they are full of flavor and fiber.
Serve with Evelyn’s Herby Green Sauce:
Put one bunch cilantro, one bunch fresh mint, about five green onions (both white and green sections), a handful of fresh or frozen basil, about a half cup of water, 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, or some rice wine vinegar, into your blender pitcher. Add a little bit of salt and pepper. Blend the heck out of it until it’s liquified. Add water and/or oil if necessary. It should have a consistency that allows it to pour out of a salad dressing container (which is what I store it in – and in fact, you can use it as salad dressing!).
2 large zucchini, maybe 1.5 lbs.
1/4 lb broccoli, chopped coarsely
1/4 lb cauliflower, chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic
1 red or yellow onion
One can canellini beans, drained
Spices: paprika, salt, pepper, dried toasted onion, Italian herb blend
Vegetable broth – make your own if possible
Evelyn’s Herby Green Sauce
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar for grilling
Slice zucchini into 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick slices. Slice onion into 1/4 inch thick slices. Brush with olive oil mixed with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper both sides. Grill until soft – might take 20-30 mins depending on your grill heat. Grill marks are OK.
While onions and zucchini are grilling, make vegetable broth. If you need a refresher course on this, check here: https://ejalexander.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/the-one-about-mushroom-stems-and-onion-ends/. Bottom line, don’t ever throw away vegetable trimmings! Save, save, SAVE – they will make you some yummy vegetable stock down the road. Boil boil boil until the water is flavored and the vegetables are limp. In a second pot, heat up a bit of olive oil and throw in four cloves of garlic, just whack them a little to open them up. No need to chop, everything is going to be blended at the end. Add the broccoli and cauliflower and let those go for awhile. When your zucchini and onion are soft and have some nice grill marks, toss those into the pot with the broccoli and cauliflower, and add the can of canellini beans. Then add about three cups (or four) of the vegetable broth – pour it through a strainer to just get the liquid. Add about three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
Then add whatever herbs and spices you like – I added some roasted garlic, toasted dried onion flakes, salt, pepper, white pepper, smoked paprika and probably a few other things I can’t remember. I also added some Evelyn’s Herby Green Sauce, maybe 1/4 cup. Let it simmer for a bit and then pull out your immersion blender (you DO have an immersion blender, right?) and blend the whole thing together. Let it simmer again to reduce it a bit and re-blend to make sure it’s really smooth.
Oh by the way, have I told you about Kale Chips?
What a great snack. Buy some kale. Wash it; dry it. Strip it off the center rib (which you will save for vegetable broth, see above). Toss it in a bowl with a LIGHT amount of olive oil and salt. Put it onto a sheet pan line with foil and let it sit on your barbecue at a very low temperature for awhile (or in the oven at about 200 degrees).
You will need to cook it for longer than you think – you want these suckers to be crispy-dry. Just a bit of bite on these is not a good thing. They might start to turn brown – that’s fine. A huge bunch of kale will turn into one, maybe two snacks worth – but they are soooooooo good!!!