Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Lentil Beet Burger

Delicious, savory veggie burgers that stay together while cooking (without the use of eggs as a binder) are the vegan holy grail

There are few recipes that get me as excited as a new veggie burger recipe; and for right reason. When done well, they are an easy way to get your veggies, grain and protein in, all packaged wonderfully in a small disc of perfection. 

No need for lots of bells and whistles, I enjoy mine on a bed of lettuce, with avocado, ketchup, mustard and Sriracha. A side of sweet potato fries or potato salad doesn't hurt. 

I enjoy leftovers for breakfast. Or as a snack before a run. Whenever, really. 

The latest recipe I modified is by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and the original can be found here. I made some substitutions based on what I had on hand, as always. The beets provide a reddish color that mimics the appearance of ground beef...which is strange considering the patty is fully vegan. 

Lentil Beet Burger
Modified from 'Quarter Pounder Beet Burger', by Isa Chandra Moskowitz 
Makes 6 patties 
Looks like beef, doesn't it? 
1 1/4 cups cooked, cooled brown rice 
1 cup cooked green lentils, cooled, drained well
1 cup shredded beets
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon Zahter seasoning
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons very finely chopped onion*
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons cashew butter (use what you have) 
1/2 cup very fine breadcrumbs

Mash the brown rice and lentils together as best you can; I didn't have a food processor on hand so I used a potato masher. It did the job just fine. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Let rest in the fridge for a half hour, at least. This step is crucial! It guarantees that the patties won't fall apart when cooked. Once the mixture has rested, shape into patties and either pan fry, or bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes. But I think veggie burgers are most delicious when pan fried a bit. 

*If you prefer a milder onion taste, you can saute the onions before combining with the remaining ingredients. I wasn't bothered by the raw onion taste, but my sister was. You can try either way. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Daily Green Smoothie

Almost every health book I've read in the last year has had a chapter on green smoothies or green juices. Traditional juices aren't so great for you because they are chock-full of sugar and usually without the fiber normally present in fruit. A glass a day is fine, but more than that, and you may find yourself putting on unwanted pounds. 

However, green juices made from spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, parsley etc. and are a different story. They are a great way to get tons of micronutrients in one go, and have even helped a bunch of people lose tons of weight (check out the documentary 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead' if interested). Having a green juice a day is a great way to get your greens in without having to prepare a huge salad; especially if you're someone always on the go. 

I was enjoying green juices for a while, but often wondered if green smoothies would be a better option, considering that smoothies contain the fiber in the vegetables/fruit, while the juices remove it. I started experimenting with different recipes and have found my favorite green smoothie recipe. My sister and I have been enjoying them every morning for breakfast. It's a great 'first thing' to put into your body, as the greens are super alkalizing (acid vs. alkaline has to do with the pH of your body; the lower the pH of your body, the more diseases can occur. Meat and dairy are very acidic as is alcohol and coffee).  If I'm still hungry after, I'll have something small like sauteed spinach and mushrooms or a tofu scramble. However, surprisingly, this smoothie keeps me pretty full for a few hours without weighing me down. I've become totally addicted and feel weird on mornings when I don't get the chance to make it. 

Blenders can be a pain to clean, but the nice thing about smoothies is that you can make a double batch and enjoy the second half the next day. Of course, the quicker you consume it, the better. 

The hemp and chia seeds provide tons of protein and essential fats. 

Ultimate Green Smoothie
Serves 2
1 banana
2 handfuls spinach
2 handfuls romaine lettuce
3 small Persian cucumbers
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon maca powder
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup filtered cold water 

Blend it all up and enjoy. This recipe can be played with endlessly; this morning I subbed the banana for frozen sour cherries. Some mornings I'll add in some parsley, or leave out the cucumbers. All depends on what I have on hand. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Easiest Stovetop Mac n Cheese

There are few foods more comforting than a big bowl of pasta. And for good reason: carbs release serotonin, which makes you happy and calm. 

So when my best friend was having a particularly rough day, I knew there was only one thing I could do to make her feel better: make a yummy mac n cheese, her favorite. Nevermind the fact that she is lactose intolerant- no one can get in between her and her love of this all-American dish. 

I on the other hand, can't handle tons of dairy, so I am constantly experimenting with non-dairy mac n cheese recipes. I've yet to find one that mimics the taste and mouthful of the original but I intend to keep trying until I do.

Most mac n cheese recipes are baked, giving you that yummy crispy cheese crust that has been burnt a bit (if you're like me, those pieces are your favorite). However, making mac n cheese on the stove is infinitely easier and happened to be my only option while preparing it at my bestie's house (she doesn't have an oven!)

I hesitated to even provide this recipe because it is by no means healthy and it was improvised so I don't have exact measurements for you guys, but since a few of you begged for the recipe via Instagram, here it is. 

Easiest Stovetop Mac n Cheese 
2 tbsp butter
3 cups cheddar, shredded
1 small box pasta shells* (about 5 cups dry, I'd guess)
about 1/2 cup milk of your choice (intended to thin out the cheesy sauce) 
salt to taste 

Once the water has boiled, throw in the pasta and cook until al dente or to your liking. Drain pasta, return to pot and add in the cheese**, butter and mix. Add as much milk as is necesssary to make a cheese sauce. In other words, without the milk, the mac n cheese might be a bit dry and intense; the milk does wonders by providing a creaminess. Add more cheese or milk depending on how you like your pasta; there really are no rules here. Voila. That's it. Easy peasy. 

* You want to use shells or mini macaroni so the cheese gets stuck inside. Yum. 
** A note about cheeses: I like to use at least 2 different kinds of cheese when making mac n cheese. Cheddar is obviously a must, but Parmesan or even a stronger cheese like Gouda or Edam can add a nice flavor profile. The mix of cheeses also elevates the dish and makes it a bit fancier. For a totally traditional version, cheddar is best. 

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