Roasted Carrot & White Bean Hummus

Roasted Carrot & White Bean Hummus | Delectably Free

One of the benefits of living in Metro Detroit is the amazing Middle Eastern cuisine. Dearborn, Michigan is home to a large Middle Eastern population, and thus, an amazing selection of Middle Eastern restaurants. It’s no wonder that when Anthony Bourdain visited Detroit to film No Reservations, Al-Ameer restaurant in Dearborn (one of my family’s favorites) was featured in his segment. The food is good. The hummus? Incomparable. Actually, it is comparable – but only if you’re comparing it to any of the other great Middle Eastern restaurants in the area. Otherwise, good luck finding anything to live up to it.

For this reason, I’ve been highly reluctant to post any of my homemade hummus recipes on Delectably Free. Sure, I make homemade hummus from time to time. It’s good. Not always great. But it works in a pinch when I need something to dip my gluten-free crackers in or to dollop on salads. But for the most part, I tend to not make hummus, because I know I can venture not too far from my neighborhood to find the best hummus you can get outside of the Middle East. I lived in New York City for 4 years, and even there, I never had hummus so good. It’s probably an understatement to say that when it comes to hummus, I have high standards and am a bit spoiled.

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Grain-Free, Vegan Layered Vegetable Lasagna

Grain-Free, Vegan Layered Vegetable Lasagna | Delectably FreeWhile I own a growing collection of vegan cookbooks — a collection that my tiny kitchen is increasingly struggling to contain — I admit that I rarely make recipes directly from any cookbooks. That’s because I usually find myself trying to think of new recipes rather than make someone else’s. I collect cookbooks because they give me inspiration and help me with the thinking part more than anything else.

That said, there are a few cookbook recipes that fall under my all-time favorites — ones that I will gladly make and share with others, with no shame in that it wasn’t my idea to begin with, because it’s just that good. Ok, maybe there’s a touch of shame that I couldn’t think of the idea myself. But I love these recipes so much, they’re among the rare meals I make without trying to change a thing.

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Quinoa-Coconut Thumbprint Cookies

Gluten-Free, Vegan Quinoa Coconut Thumbprint Cookies | Delectably FreeIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — just tweak it! 

It seems that’s been my basic motto in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. I’m a restless cook — one who rarely makes the same exact thing the same way twice, unless, of course, I’m testing recipes to post here. But even then, once the recipe has been posted, after all the testing an tweaking that came before it, I’m still hard-wired to contemplate adjustments to that recipe that could make it even better. Or at least, something that could make it different.

The recipe for these thumbprint cookies is based on a previous recipe from 2011 for quinoa cookies – an oat-free oatmeal cookie alternative that has been a family favorite in recent years. If you compare the recipes side -by-side, you’ll notice they’re quite similar. But just a few tweaks to the original recipe has yielded a quite different cookie altogether. It’s like a coconut macaroon married with a thumbprint cookie and spiked with lemon zest for a fresh burst of flavor. It’s a bit of a departure from the oatmeal-like quinoa cookies upon which these were inspired.

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Beyond Chicken Vegan Jambalaya

Beyond Chicken Vegan Jambalaya | Delectably FreeBefore we get to our regularly-scheduled programming, I have a few housekeeping — er, should I say site-keeping — notes to share. First of all, you may notice that Delectably Free has a new look. My previous header and design was created by my lovely and talented friend Aubrey, but I needed an update to go with some of my other site changes, and wanted to once and for all clarify that we are not entirely “sugar” free, but rather refined sugar-free, lest anyone get too confused. With that, we now have a new header reflecting that clarification. You might also notice the new photo on the sidebar, courtesy of my other lovely and talented friends at Riggs Photography, who took long-awaited photos for this site, which can also be found on my About Me page and in my Coaching Program pages. A few weeks ago, I also added Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram links to my sidebar, for those interested in following my happenings on any of those sites as well. Finally — and this one came with great trepidation — I added mobile compatibility so that my site is easier to navigate via phone. This was was with trepidation because the character and feel of this site is largely lost through the mobile setup, but I felt I had to do it to make everything easier and more seamless. Please, please, please let me know what you think! I am always open to suggestions for improvement.

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Tropical Green Hemp Energy Smoothie

Tropical Green Hemp Energy Smoothie | Delectably FreeI am writing this post on the eve of my 29th birthday. It’s true that, the older you get, birthdays begin to lose some of their luster and lore . But I’m still fond of birthdays, perhaps mostly because I find that they implore reflection and introspection in a way that probably no other day of the year can. Lately, I am all about reflection. I am all about life giving me excuses to try even harder, to be even better, to learn from the past.

My 28th year was marked by personal growth (and really, what year isn’t?). As new homeowners and young adults trying to navigate financial independence, the past year threw us some curveballs and roadblocks, for sure. But I’ve at least learned to be better about one thing: not worrying so much. It’s a struggle, sometimes, to relinquish control and trust that the universe has a plan that is largely beyond my ability to manipulate. All we can do is be the best person we can be…and I’m working on that every day.

Now that I’m entering the last year of my twenties, I’ve had some time to reflect on how I’ve changed over the decade. I think those who know me well will say my personality and essence has remained the same. But I guess no one knows me as well as I know myself, and I can truly say that I have changed in immeasurable ways, and in ways I can’t quite concisely or articulately explain here. If I were to come up with a concise, one-line answer, it would be this:

I’ve become more selfish, and less selfish at the same time.

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Spicy, Creamy Vegan Chickpea Curry

Spicy, Creamy Vegan Chickpea Curry | Delectably FreeIt’s pretty clear to me by now that cashew cream is my newest kitchen trick that I can’t get enough of. At one time, I used to think it was daunting and time-consuming to make cream sauce from cashews. Little did I know that with the help of my Vitamix, making cashew cream is only slightly more daunting or time-consuming than opening a jar of cream sauce. I mean, opening certain jars can be a daunting task in itself…

But one need not have a fancy or high-powered blender to make cream sauce in minutes. Creamy, smooth and luscious sauce is attainable simply by soaking your cashews ahead of time, then draining and rinsing them before blending. This softens the cashews and puts them just minutes from being turned into a silky smooth sauce.

This curry was born out of a recent craving for the Thai-style restaurant cream sauces that I’ve been deprived of ever since going vegan. I think I might miss Thai curries more than anything — in fact, it might be the only thing I can truly say with much certainty that I actually miss from my former life. But I take solace in knowing that I don’t miss the headaches and stomach pains I used to get after ingesting such high salt, dairy and fat-ladden meals.

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Single-Serving Carrot Cake Overnight Oats

Single-Serving Carrot Cake Overnight Oats | Delectably FreeI’ve been doing overnight oats for breakfast for awhile, not putting too much thought into it because I figured the internet had that area of oatmeal-making pretty well covered. But then I witnessed a recent surge of carrot cake oat recipes on some of my favorite vegan blogs, and suddenly became fixated on the idea of combining a popular Pinterest-era phenomenon — overnight oats — with the flavors of carrot cake.

Aside from green or berry smoothies, overnight oats are one of my favorite breakfast options for so many reasons. First of all, overnight oats are just that: they literally soften overnight, leaving you with thick, ready-to-eat no-cook oatmeal in the morning. I also love having a base recipe that I can make again and again, while still being able to customize that base to my particular tastes and preferences on a given day (or, more likely, based on what I happen to have in my fridge).

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Vegan Skillet Fajita Hash

skillet fajita hashI’m in love with the fajita recipe from The Vegan Table. It’s probably been one of my favorite vegan cookbook recipes, and it’s a super easy go-to for entertaining vegans and non-vegans alike. The problem is, while the recipe is easy, it’s requires a bit of advance preparation, which means that it’s not always the best option for weeknight meals when I’m hungry and cranky and will probably eat the entire contents of my pantry if I have to wait for something to marinate and then roast in the oven before eating.

Last week, I had a craving for fajitas and happened to have enough ingredients on-hand to make them happen. But the problem was, I was so hungry by the time I got home from walking Woodley after work that there was no way I was going to be able to wait long enough to make them. That’s where the idea for this fajita hash was born.

I wanted to stray a bit from the fajitas I’d been making from The Vegan Table. This recipe is oil-free and low-fat. Making it on the skillet makes it much easier to pull off the no-oil thing, as everything is sauteed rather than roasted, which usually requires oil. To make it a meal in itself, I added potatoes, which provide some additional caloric bulk. Oh, and did I mention I love potatoes? Cause I do. So, there’s that. Finally, the black beans round this out by adding protein — again, this could be a meal in itself.

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Soft & Chewy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

double chocolate chip cookiesIt’s been a little over a year since I’ve been “back” and blogging. In the year prior, I had spent my time resting a tired and weary body, one which was riddled with Tick-borne infection and needed a level of care that I wasn’t able to give without giving something up. Sadly, that something was maintaining this website. There were definite moments when I thought of giving it up entirely. In fact, during my year off, I operated with the assumption that my blogging days were over. I was too tired — too exhausted, really — to even think about getting back to a place where I could fathom putting in the work required to create recipes, take photos and write up posts.

But something compelled me to come back. The realist in me thinks it was just that I was feeling better and needed an outlet for my new-found — albeit sporadic and fleeting — bursts of energy. But the spiritualist in me knows that there was more to it than that. I missed what this blog meant for me on a deeper level. I missed having a voice that I believed resonated with those seeking a healthier, more fulfilled and compassionate existence through their food choices. At the time, I didn’t really know if what I was sharing resonated with anyone, or whether my voice was missed. But I did know that if what I believed and was compelled to share, through food, resonated in my own heart, it was bound to reach someone else as well. 

What I’ve never mentioned, or admitted, is that this blog has also become a personal tool for my spiritual growth. Selfishly, I know that no matter what, by sharing my words here, I am doing something important for me — which is, simply, “putting myself out there”. When I first had the idea to start a blog, I quickly brushed it off as a ridiculous notion. Who would really want to see what had to share, or what I had to say? Who was I, really? There are thousands of food bloggers on the planet, many with more beautiful photos or fancier web designs than my own. The idea of throwing myself into the pool, with the strong risk of facing rejection (read: no one giving a crap) scared the bejeebers out of me.

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Chocolate-Avocado Mousse

chocolate-avocado mousseI don’t know what got into me. Well, I do know. It was Chef Fran’s amazing book Vegan Chocolate that started this recent whirlwind of cooking and baking with chocolate (though in this case, there is neither cooking nor baking required). From chocolate granola to chocolate-covered strawberries to chocolate chip pancakes to the double chocolate chip cookies I’ve been teasing but haven’t posted yet, it’s been a big ‘ol chocolate party at my house recently, all thanks (or no thanks) to Chef Fran. My apologies to any of you out there who are not chocolate lovers (including my husband) or to those who have chocolate allergies (my cousin Weylin comes to mind..and I always keep him in mind when I’m developing recipes for family gatherings).

That said, I’m sorry I’m not sorry for loving chocolate and wanting to share all things chocolate with the world. This recipe is the ultimate dichotomy: rich and creamy, yet raw, vegan and healthy. And when I say rich, I mean it. The richness of this mousse is like built-in portion control. You can eat a little bit and feel filled and satisfied.

Yes, there are plenty of avocado mousse recipes to be found on the internet these days. A recent Facebook meme with a similar recipe comes to mind. So there are tweaks and variations galore for those looking to play with this recipe. But what I love about this one, in particular, is that dates — not any sugar substitutes — are used for sweetness, making this an entirely whole-foods and raw (if using raw cocoa powder) recipe.

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