Vegan Chorizo Chili and Giveaway

* Scroll down to see giveaway info.

By now I’m sure it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Marisa Miller Wolfson and everything she does for the vegan (and non-vegan, and animal, and environmentalist) community. I first heard of Marisa when she a guest speaker at my law school for my animal law course (a life-changing class, indeed). My peers and I were honored with the privilege of being able to watch clips of her new documentary, Vegucated, years (OK, a year and half, to be sort of exact) prior to its initial release. As militant as I may have become over the course of my own “vegucation” (and inherent transformation), it’s always refreshing to see a film or read a book that is informative without being preachy; disturbingly real while still providing comic relief. Vegucated is just that and more.*

Well, it’s been over a year and a half since I watched my first clips from Vegucated, and since then I’ve gone vegan and gotten my parents on board as well (they saw Vegucated at the Vegetarian Summerfest in July and were big fans). I am noting all of this because today marks the official launch of the Vegucated DVD. Whoo!

In honor of its launch, I’m doing a giveaway with two prizes. One will be a copy of the DVD, of course. The other will be an amazing “Get Vegucated” t-shirt**, as I was so proud to model after getting one myself (my newly vegucated parents couldn’t resist the Vegfest souvenir).

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Tropical Green Detox Smoothie

Oh, the holidays. For some reason, my mind (and body) can’t decide whether they’re a welcome escape from the everyday grind — a time to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends — or whether the holiday season is an energy-sapping grind in itself, leaving me longing to return to the monotony of my 9-5 (more like 9-7) routine. Whatever the verdict, there’s no denying that my body could use a return to something at least resembling monotony. Between the Christmas-in-California jet lag to the New Years Eve late night to the endless holiday parties, I can slowly feel the energy draining from my bodily cells. Tonight, with a few hours of unclaimed time available for relaxation, there are hopes of much-needed blogging catch-up and some quality reading, but I’ll be lucky to stay awake past 10 p.m. at the rate I’m going.

In a similar way, I am also eager to reset my eating habits to the pre-holiday status quo. As much as I got a little tired of the morning power smoothie routine, nothing is sounding better than a cleansing drink after weeks of breakfast randomness. My California vacation breakfasts consisted often of leftovers from the previous night’s carry out dinner, while just this morning I preceded yet another trip to the airport with a breakfast consisting of brownies and pizza (albeit gluten-free, vegan pizza, of course).

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Fudgy Black Bean Brownies

I know I said I would lay off the brownie recipes for awhile.  Well, I lied.

I am choosing this recipe to be my inaugural submission over at Ricki’s Blog Diet, Dessert and Dogs for her Wellness Weekend. I always get such amazing ideas and find new blogs though her Wellness Weekend but have not submitted anything of my own. Mostly because….I always forget! I am ending that trend today.

Yield: approximately 12 brownies

Ingredients:

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup hot water

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup coconut nectar

1/4 cup coconut oil (liquefied)

2 packets stevia

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1 medium banana (no brown spots)

1 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon instant coffee or coffee substitute

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons coconut flour

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a high-powered blender, blend together black beans, hot water, vanilla extract, coconut nectar, coconut oil, stevia and banana.

3. Add remaining ingredients and blend until just combined, stirring if necessary.Pour batter into a pre-greased 8×8″ pan. Bake in preheated oven for 35-40minutes, or until middle bounces back when pressed. Brownies will harden more as they cool. Allow to cool nearly completely before cutting.

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Chana Masala

Well, the 2nd annual gluten-free, vegan Thanksgiving was a success. Minus, of course, the Lions loss. Which is really nothing new for us Detroiters, except that this year, everyone was thinking (but not saying) that we actually had a chance. Turns out, we didn’t. And so, while the Lions’ defeats have been a constant in my recollection of recent Thanksgivings, my Thanksgiving plate has altogether done a 180 from the once dark meat and gravy-laden plates Thanksgivings in the past.

Ironically, I was the most stuffed this year than I have been in recent memory. I guess I have my willpower to thank for that. Or lack thereof…

There was also the problem of my menu planning. Two types of stuffing? Sure! Baked vegan mac and cheese? Why not? Cornbread and focaccia? Sounds good to me!

But I had absolutely nothing to do with my absolute favorite part of my meal. A wonderful Aloo Matar (Indian peas and potatoes) which was contributed by my aunt’s friend, an amazing Indian home cook. It was just too good, especially over mashed potatoes (who needs gravy when you can have Aloo Matar?).

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Ideas for a Gluten-Free, Vegan Thanksgiving

Last year was my first foray into a turkey-less Thanksgiving, and I have to say, I fared pretty well. I do plan on sponsoring a turkey again this year, and encourage all my fellow vegans and animal lovers to do the same.

I had hoped to outdo myself with this year’s offerings. Instead, I find myself struggling to find the time to make myself a freaking lunch for work, let alone plan a Thanksgiving menu. Let me tell you, I have a newfound respect for all you folks out there who manage to hold down full-time jobs and still blog, cook and do whatever else you do like champs. I am just not on your level. I suppose I can blame the underlying fatigue and health problems that had me examining my diet in the first place — those problems tend to rear their ugly heads whenever I’m amnesiac to the fact that I am not one of those people who can function on any less than seven or eight hours of sleep. So, to preserve my energies, I’m recycling a list of old recipes that I’m considering for my own Thanksgiving menu. Wholly unoriginal, I know.

This year, I am thankful to be with my family over the holidays. We are all praying for the soon-to-be newborn baby of my cousin and her husband. Last week, the doctors found hydrocephalus. He needs almost immediate surgery right after he will be born in a few weeks. Our family will be together sending positive thoughts and love to the little guy (yep, love vibes travel very nicely through the womb, I’m told) and to his parents. I’m accepting positive thoughts for baby Bennett, Kelly and Ryan from all of my Delectably Free readers as well. I am thankful for all of you.

Gluten-Free Breads:

Traditional Cornbread (Scroll down for recipe)

Cran-Apple Cornbread

Focaccia

“Cheddar” Scallion Biscuits

Sides:

Mashed potatoes and miso gravy

Portobellos and Gravy

Green Bean Casserole

Cornbread Dressing (stuffing)*

Salads:

Antioxidant Quinoa Salad

Beet Carrot and Apple Slaw

Sweet Potato, Pecan and Poblano Salad with Cranberries

Main Courses:

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Veggie Patties

Red Lentil Kibbeh

Dessert:

Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie

Mom’s Apple Crisp

Low-Fat Pumpkin Mousse Pie

Applesauce Cake with “Cream Cheese” Frosting

* This recipe is also good substituting one recipe of the gluten-free focaccia for cornbread, or doing 1/2 cornbread and 1/2 focaccia (my personal favorite)

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Spicy Chorizo Pasta Sauce

I first made a version of this pasta sauce when I was studying for the Michigan bar and looking for something quick, easy, cheap and still actually filling enough to power me through an hours-long study session. Since then, this recipe has evolved into a weeknight go-to that is so easy, it will have Sandra Lee wishing she thought of it. Truly the “semi-homemade” meal, it’s one of my favorite dishes lately. And, in keeping with the “theme” of this dish (fast! easy!), I’m signing off with a short post today — it’s close to midnight on a Sunday night and I have to get up early for work. Oh, the joys of a full-time job…

Yield: Enough for about 1 lb. of pasta, plus a little extra

Spicy Chorizo Pasta Sauce:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 large zucchini or 1 small zucchini, diced

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced

1 package Trader Joe’ Soy Chorizo

1 (approx. 18-20 oz.) jar Marinara Sauce*

Directions:

1. In a large, deep saucepan or Dutch Oven, saute zucchini and carrots in olive oil on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until zucchini begins to soften and vegetables release their liquid.

2. Add mushrooms and saute until they begin to soften. Add chorizo and crumble with spoon. Add pasta sauce and heat through. Serve over your favorite type of pasta (I like spaghetti or fusilli for this dish), or spaghetti squash.

* I used Trader Joe’s traditional marinara, which is my favorite

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No-Recipe Stuffed Pumpkin

First, let me apologize (once again) for being, like, the worst blogger in history. The past four weeks have been incredibly busy at work, which has inevitably invaded my weekends and wreaked havoc on my social and blogging life (if this hadn’t already been thoroughly accomplished by the fact that we are still living with my parents). Then, I was sick. Then, there were weddings. Lots and lots of October-November weddings, in fact. All of which have contributed to my silence and absence from this forum.

Luckily, I have a mom who loves to cook and eats that way I do. I certainly haven’t been lacking in the dinner department. And thanks to my mom’s creative juices, this delicious and simple stuffed pumpkin non-recipe recipe was born. I can promise you that this deliciously fall aroma will permeate your home and provide a fitting backdrop for holiday gatherings.

Here are some other pumpkin-themed recipes to get you in the spirit this season:

pumpkin blondies

pumpkin ice cream pie

bran and flax pumpkin muffins

chewy gooey pumpkin bars

Ingredients:

1 medium pie pumpkin

a few tablespoons liquid sweetener (i.e. agave, coconut nectar)

2 medium apples, cored and chopped

a few tablespoons of currants

a sprinkle of nutmeg

a sprinkle of cinnamon

a sprinkle of ground cloves

1-2 packets stevia, optional

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Core pumpkin and scoop out insides. Rub inside with liquid sweetener. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients, adjusting spices and sweetness to taste. Stuff pumpkin high with apple mixture. Place in a deep baking dish and cover.

3. Bake in preheated oven for approximately 2-2 1/2 hours, or until pumpkin is very soft (use a fork to test for doneness). Serve slices of pumpkin topped with apples and juice. Serve as a dessert or a holiday side.

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Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Well, the number of meat eaters in my family is slowly dwindling to a minuscule number. Soon, they’ll be brandished to another room altogether, forced to eat their meat in silence and shame, wishing they could one day break their nasty habit.

Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit. But seriously, if our extended family dinner Friday night was any indication, eating meat is so, like, 2010. After successfully converting my parents to a full-fledged vegan lifestyle, I’ve now witnessed my grandparents reassess their diets, swapping tofu and veggies for their meat -and-potato  dinners. Then recently my cousin — a professional tennis player, mind you — announced that he had gone vegan after watching the movie Forks over Knives. Even my meat-loving husband has changed his ways, if subtly. Last week, for example, he ordered an all-veggie pizza instead of his usual pepperoni and olive. And he’s been buying Amy’s organic frozen meals to sustain him throughout the week when I’m not cooking (I’ll pretend I didn’t see the Egg McMuffin receipt floating around our car last week).

Anyways, in honor of all of the recent converts in my family, I’ve decided to make a convert of Mr. Sloppy Joe — taking a formerly meat and butter-ladden dish and swapping in healthy tempeh and fresh vegetables for a much healthier meal. Eat your heart out, old Sloppy Joe.

Makes: approximately 4-6 servings

Tempeh Sloppy Joes:

1 tablespoon Earth Balance buttery spread (or olive oil)

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 small-medium zucchini, diced

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups baby bella mushrooms, diced

1 package soy tempeh, boiled or steamed for 10 minutes, then crumbled

¼ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

¾ cup organic ketchup

½ cup water

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried mustard powder

2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon dried celery seed

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Ground pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Boil or steam tempeh cubes for approximately 10 minutes to remove smell. Drain and rinse, set aside

2. In a large shallow pan or Dutch Oven, melt buttery spread over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, zucchini and garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and saute over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until onion becomes translucent and water is released from vegetables. Add mushrooms and tempeh and cook until mushrooms begin to soften.

3. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cook until water is reduced and desired consistency is reached, about 10 minutes. Serve over your favorite gluten-free hamburger buns or bread, toasted. Serve with homemade sweet potato chips or fries for a healthy side.

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Mom’s Apple Crisp

Before I get any further into this post, let me just establish something very important here: when I showed my mom the picture I took of her apple crisp (which we had nearly devoured in its entirety the night before, leaving me with very little to work with picture-wise), she said “What??? That doesn’t do it justice.” Gee, thanks, Mom.

Unfortunately, she’s right. One of the problems was, in fact, the lack of an untouched dish to work with from the beginning. The other problem is that, frankly, I am still pretty much a trial-and-error person when it comes to camera settings (white balance, focus) and pretty much a minimalist when it comes to props and “set design.” This is fine, of course, by some standards. But when you’re trying to highlight the greatest apple crisp recipe ever created (gluten-free or not, vegan or not, sugar-free or not), I’m not sure any picture would quite do it justice. And I can say that, of course, without bragging because I had nothing to do with this recipe other than partake in eating way too much of it. And it’s not just me. My mom brought this dish to a potluck recently and found it was completely gone while a table full of chocolate cakes and gooey cookies and other sweet treats remained.

My mom adapted this recipe form the Betty Crocker Apple Crisp. She doubled the recipe to serve a crowd. I’d advise, though, that if you’re serving any more than 4 people, definitely make the double recipe. Otherwise, you can halve it and make what the recipe calls for, which supposedly serves 6. But I’m calling Betty’s bluff.

Apple Crisp:
Adapted to be gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook

8 cups tart apples (about 7-8 medium apples), peeled and sliced

1 packet stevia (optional)

1/2 cups currants (optional)

1 1/4 cup raw coconut crystals (packed)

1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 cup gluten-free oats

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery spread

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Grease a large baking rectangular or round quart baking dish. Place apples in bottom of pan. If apples are very tart, sprinkle with stevia. Sprinkle with currants.

3. Mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Sprinkle over apples and currants. Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and sides are bubbling. Serve warm.

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Super Chocolate Brownies

My cousin Kelly  is 6 months pregnant. She’s ecstatic and glowing and oh-so cute in her little dresses that show off a growing belly (and for once, the long-time  “Kelly belly” nickname actually makes some sense).

Anyways, I made these brownies a few days ago for her birthday. I thought about what I would want if I were pregnant. From what I hear, the closest I’ve ever come to that experience is the whole “that time of the month” situation. The bloating. The mood swings. The chocolate cravings. Oh — chocolate! (Sorry to my male readers — all 3 of you? — for having to endure the “girl talk” in this post).

Yes, I believe that if I were six months pregnant, I would most certainly want something very chocolaty. Pretty much all the time.  So of course I thought I had hit the jackpot of birthday treat ideas, until about halfway through the recipe when I realized that chocolate contains caffeine and pregnant women are supposed to limit caffeine intake. Pregnancy gift faux-pas? My research says no; chocolate in moderation is perfectly O.K. and perhaps even beneficial. Phew. But I suppose a whole pan of brownies to keep for myself wouldn’t be the worst thing ever…

Of course, I did test a few of the brownies on my fellow housemates before pawning them off to unsuspecting pregnant people. For those not keeping track, my “housemates” currently include my parents, husband and three dogs. Though not to worry, I didn’t test the brownies on the dogs (much to their dismay).

The brownies got a universal thumbs-up and were deemed “very chocolaty.” Perhaps I  really was channeling my inner pregnant woman. I did add a tablespoon of coffee substitute to the batter, as I’ve learned from my days as an Ina geek that coffee brings the chocolate out of chocolate dishes, adding intensity to the flavor. Again, keeping my audience in mind, I steered clear of real coffee and went with the fake stuff (which is surprising good in its own right, I must say).

And thus completes yet another gluten-free, vegan and sugar-free brownie adventure in my kitchen. With this recipe, I think my brownie count on this site is at six. I don’t know what it is with me and brownies. Truth be told, I think it’s the fact that every time I set out to make an old recipe, I’m out an ingredient and with that, a whole new recipe is born. Apparently, I can get very creative when I’m craving chocolate.

For a twist, I sprinkled these with chopped walnuts and gluten-free chocolate chips . It makes for a pretty presentation and adds a nice nutty flavor and crunch. Of course, these would also be good with more coarsely chopped nuts mixed into the batter.

Makes: 1 8×8″ pan (about 9 medium-large or 12 small squares)

Gluten-Free Very Chocolate Brownies:

¾ cup Bob’s Red Mill brown rice flour

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon dry Ener-G egg replacer

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon instant coffee or gluten-free grain coffee substitute*

¾ cup applesauce

¾ cup agave nectar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup coconut oil (liquefied), plus more for greasing

1/4 cup crushed walnuts and 2 tbsp. gluten-free chocolate chips (optional) for topping

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Lightly grease an 8×8″ glass pan with coconut oil and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, coffee/coffee substitute and egg replacer. Add in applesauce, agave, coconut oil and vanilla and whisk until incorporated.
4. Pour batter into pre-greased dish. Sprinkle with walnuts and chocolate chips and very lightly press into top of batter. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until brownies bounce back when pressed. Cool on a wire rack completely before slicing.

* I used Dandy Blend instant herbal coffee substitute.


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