Retro Throwback: Black Bean Salad

On Sundays, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago.

There is this great restaurant right next door to my yoga studio called Sassool. I have currently developed an addiction to their chocolate chip cookies, but that’s a whole other story. Do you know how easy it is to run next door after class and buy a giant cookie? Way to easy.

Sassool has this fabulous black bean salad. So, the other day, when I was paying homage to my chocolate chip cookie addiction, I bought some black bean salad to go. But then I realized it was so good that I had to learn to make it. I had to start eating this stuff for lunch.

While I was able to figure out most of the ingredients, I could not figure out what they used for a dressing. Luckily, I managed to find a recipe online. I made a few small changes to it which included:

  • No parsley (personal preference)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • And whoops! I forgot the cumin and was too lazy to go back and add it in.

I made this salad (vegan by the way) on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It took me maybe 30 minutes, but I was being pokey. It was raining – where was I gonna go? I already had a giant cookie and had been to class. All important events for the day had been conquered. As you can see from the picture, it makes a lot, and it is very pretty:

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You want to make the salad the day before and let the flavors come together overnight. It’s good cold or at room temperature. I went back the next day to Sassool and bought some pita chips (because they make them in house and practically give giant bags away for free it’s so darn cheap and yes, of course I got another cookie). I had some hummus and rounded out the salad with pita chips covered in awesome hummus. Can’t go wrong with that.

Featured Recipe: Vegan Moxarella

I don’t know how, but about a month ago I stumbled upon a recipe for a vegan moxarella cheese. You know, moxarella because it’s a mock up of mozzarella. I was very interested in making it, but it took me sometime to get around to it.

But I finally got around to it, and I’m here to tell you that it is the bomb.

You can read the recipe yourself, but let me give you a few pointers:

  • tapioca starch is the same thing as tapioca flour. I got it at a regular grocery store. Bob’s Red Mill makes it. I believe I found it in the baking aisle.
  • the directions really are as simple as they sound. You will have to do a little advance planning to soak the cashews. I soaked mine for eight hours, but they probably could have stood to go more for 12-15 hours. This wasn’t terrible. I just had some tiny cashew chunks pop up in my cheese now and then.
  • once you get everything blended and put into the pot it really does take about five minutes to finish off. You may be wondering how it is even possible for the liquid mixture you are stirring to come together and even look like cheese, but it will, and it will freak you out.
You need this book.

You need this book.

Ok – so the cheese is easy to make. It tastes fine. Nothing special. I wouldn’t walk around my house eating it plain as a snack or anything. So, what to do with it? Well, I happened to have a copy of Chloe Coscarelli’s Vegan Italian Kitchen in my house and it had suggestions for making a vegan french bread pizza (the book also has a recipe for a vegan pesto which I used on my pizza).

So, I sat about pulling random things out of my fridge and making myself an awesome little french bread pizza. I made the vegan pesto from Chloe’s book and spread it on both slices. Then I topped it with the cheese, caramelized onions, spinach, and olives. It then baked for six minutes.

To give you an idea of how the cheese holds up in the oven, here is a before and after shot of my pizza:

Before it went into the oven.

Before it went into the oven.

You can see the cheese under the olives and spinach. It’s the white stuff.

After the oven

After the oven

See how well the cheese melted? It has the same texture as mozzarella, and it melts very well. While I think it’s nothing special on it’s own, it is terrific when placed on a pizza and mixed with other flavors.

The next day, I still had bread and cheese left over so I whipped up a slight different version:

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The Boyfriend thought this looked delicious and immediately started hovering until I offered him a bite. Then he had to have one. When it came time to put the cheese on I asked him if he wanted the vegan cheese or actual cheese (we had both), and he said he wanted the vegan cheese. He ate it right up.

And there you have it. A simple vegan cheese made from cashews (is there anything cashew can’t do? Seriously!?!). Takes all of 10 minutes to make plus soaking time which doesn’t count. I’m sure there are many things I can do with this cheese, and I have only begun to figure them out.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

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One Year Ago Today on MBYL

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things: Quinoa Skinny Sticks

“What ‘cha got?” The Boyfriend asked.

I had a bowl full of Quinoa Skinny Sticks. “These are…” I paused not sure how to explain what I was eating.  “These are made from quinoa.”

He scrunched up his face in a way that said he wasn’t interested.

“It’s a sweet onion flavor. Go ahead. Try one. I think you’ll like it.”

“No thanks,” he said.

We sat down on the couch and he stared into my bowl. “Why don’t you just have one?” I asked. “They aren’t weird. I think you will like them.”

He continued to stare at them.

I shoved the bowl in his face. “For God’s sake just take one. One will not kill you.”

He took one. And then another and another and so on…

“Let me go get some more,” I said. At this point I wasn’t actually eating any of them. He hopped off the couch, got the bag, and took out a bowl. “Just use my bowl,” I said.

“No. I want my own bowl. I don’t want to have to share these.”

quinoaMy Skinny Quinoa Sticks were an impulse buy from a recent trip to Fresh Market. I had no real reason for buying them except they just looked interesting. It’s not something I see at a typical grocery store. Plus, I was curious as to what a snack made from quinoa would taste like.

Turns out pretty darn good. So good in fact that The Boyfriend had to get how own bowl full.

These are Nong-GMO, Vegan, and gluten-free. They are also made from actual food. I knew what each of the ingredients are (which includes quinoa flour and chia seeds). You can go here to learn more about what’s in them.

They claim to be “super high in taste,” and I’m going to agree with that statement. Although I’ve only had the sweet onion (and it tasted just like I thought it would), I would be interesting in trying other flavors. The sticks also have a nice crunch to them.

So if you see them, grab a bag. And maybe hide them somewhere safe in your house. Apparently not everyone wants to share these.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

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One Year Ago Today on MBYL

 

Featured Recipe: Raw Almond Butter Cups

I would have written about these raw almond butter cups sooner,  but I have been far too busy stuffing my face with them. I was looking for a snack that wouldn’t be too bad for me but that involved chocolate. I knew I had some raw recipes saved and landed on the butter cups. I didn’t really have any of the ingredients, and I made some modifications, but it all worked out well.

First, I had to buy most of the stuff. And let me tell you, almond butter and coconut oil ain’t cheap (about 10.00 a bottle). But the coconut oil held up for four or so batches (I make 24 at a time), and the almond butter will be good for six to seven batches.

Second, on my shopping trip I had to buy rolled oats. These were not terribly expensive. I got Bob’s Red Mill – and it was a large bag. The bag was so large that I decided to not buy the almonds the recipe calls for. The decision to skip the almonds was based on the fact that almonds was one more thing to buy, and the recipe said you can make these using just oats. I had this huge bag of oats and I thought that was plenty (and it is).

016The recipe comes together really quickly and easily. For the cups, you can just mix everything together in a bowl. I don’t use my stand mixer for these. Then I press them into mini-cupcake tins. Next, it’s on to the chocolate sauce. This sauce is soooo good you could just drink it from the bowl (and maybe I did that….). It is the best chocolate sauce I have ever had in my life!

I find though that I tend to rip through the chocolate sauce pretty quickly, and I will admit that I might put a lot of chocolate sauce on top of my cups. This is also a reason why I am going through the coconut oil at a pretty high speed. I have to use it on both the cups and the sauce, and I’m making a double batch every time. So when you think of it like that it’s not really too expensive.

The cups are good after an hour, but they are at their best after two hours. I eventually pop them out of the tins and put them in a plastic bag in the freezer. If I make 24 they will last around three, maybe four, days. So yeah, I eat anywhere from four-six on a given day (or at a single sitting!).

These are vegan and raw and they are insanely delicious. I find myself making them ALL the time because they are 019that good!

The Boyfriend ignored these at first. Then he ate one, and then he ate about five more. Like me, he can’t stop eating them.

For a snack, these are very filling and satisfy my sweet tooth. The only downside is you can’t take them to work with you like you could a cookie. The chocolate sauce will start to melt so you have to eat them at home. It takes me about 20 minutes to make a batch and get them in the freezer. If you have a healthier snack – that involves chocolate – let me know. I would love to make it.

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

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One Year Ago Today on MBYL

Favorite Things: Pan-Fried Kale

Recently, I found myself in possession of some left-over kale. I had bought some to make chick-peas and dumplings (from Thug Kitchen). I noticed it hanging around in the drawer and thought I should do something with it before it needed to be tossed out.

So easy to make.

So easy to make.

I remembered I had a recipe for pan-fried kale that was super simple so I went with that. I made a couple of modifications to the recipe. First, I always add in lemon juice at the end and let the kale simmer in it for a minute. Second, I decided to start sprinkling the vegan-cashew Parmesan I made. Both of these are excellent things to do with your pan-fried kale.

Once I had used up my left-over kale, I realized something: I am now addicted to pan-fried kale! Seriously, it goes with everything!

Making a vegan grilled cheese? Pan-fried kale goes with that!

Iced in and making a ton of risotto? Toss some pan-fried kale in your risotto!

Remember, if you make this, that you probably need more kale than you think. When you cook it, the kale will wilt and you will end up with less than you realized. This is, without a doubt, one of the easiest and best ways to eat kale. Also, it’s one of the easiest ways to eat your greens and make a quick and healthy side dish!

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

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One Year Ago Today on MBYL

 

 

Favorite Things: Field Roast’s Vegan Cheese

I love Field Roast. I haven’t tried all their products, but I’ve always loved what I’ve eaten. This post is about their new line of vegan cheeses.

I was aware that Field Roast had released three vegan cheeses, but I hadn’t gotten around to going to Whole Foods to get them. I was on my way in to work one day and stopped off at WF to get something for lunch. I checked and saw they had the cheeses! I purchased the Tomato Cayenne with Spicy Peppers. It suits my taste.

The cheese before I ate it all.

The cheese before I ate it all.

I dragged the cheese to my office where it sat in the fridge all day. Then I dragged it to my yoga studio where the instructor very kindly put it in their fridge for me while I took class. I was serious about wanting to try this cheese! Then I ran home to see what it was all about (and I was dying at this point to get at it!!!).

First, let me say that I have had my share of vegan cheeses. I’m not new to the vegan cheese idea. Most have been horrible. There was one I found that did not taste good if I ate it straight, but it worked just fine on a sandwich. The problem is that the brands I tend to like can’t be bought locally so I have to order them. This gets expensive so I stopped doing it.

So I was excited that I could buy some vegan cheese locally, I had high hopes because I had liked previous Field Roast products, but I was also prepared for a strong dose of reality to hit. I’ve just had too many negative experiences with vegan cheeses. But I got down to it and set about making a grilled cheese.

Step One: What does this cheese look like? 

It looked like cheese. It’s sliced like cheese. I could see the peppers in it. We were off to a good start (check out this video to see what the cheese looks like).

Step 2: Hmmm….Maybe I should taste it first?

I was thinking that before I went through all the trouble of making a grilled cheese just to have it taste nasty and

Looks like cheese!

Looks like cheese!

throw it out, maybe I should take a bit of the cheese. Then I remembered the one vegan cheese I didn’t like to eat straight but I liked fine on a sandwich. Ok….I’m committed to making this sandwich no matter what. But what does it taste like straight?

It’s the closest thing to cheese that I have ever had. I ended up eating an entire slice straight (and then later a second one).  It’s pretty good.

Step 3: How does it melt?

Excellent. Works just like a dairy-based cheese.

Step 4: How is this sandwich?

I am addicted. Seriously. I am hooked. I have been eating them almost every day. I am going to be near a WF tonight, and I am buying about five more packages of the stuff. It will keep in the fridge for months (it says not to freeze it), but I am plenty confident in my ability to work through five packages without a problem. I seem to be needing a pack a week.

The cheese runs a little over 5.00 a pack for 10 slices. It is completely worth the money. I am excited to see what else I can do with the cheese in the near future (and the Field Roast site has some suggestions). For now, I am loving myself a simple vegan, grilled cheese sandwich. Toss in a Caesar side salad a’la Thug Kitchen and you’ve got yourself a quick and delicious lunch (and 100% vegan).

Three Years Ago Today on MBYL

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Favorite Things: Nuts.com

Last summer, I made a vegan cashew cheese for the first time in my life, and used it to make a vegan grilled cheese. You can read about that here. It was yummy. It was really more like a spread/dip, but it involved me going to Whole Foods and buying cashews in bulk. Cashews are not cheap at the store my friends. No they are not.

I really like the cashew cheese I made, and I started to acquire other recipes that called for cashew-based cheeses. I knew that going to the store to buy them was not the most economical thing to do. So I finally got off my butt and started looking around online. That’s when I landed on Nuts.com.

I have some cashews.

I have some cashews.

Nuts.com sells nuts in bulk. A five-pound bag of cashews goes for about 50.00. I looked back at how much the cashews cost at Whole Foods last summer. According to my post, they were 13.99 a pound. So five pounds will put you around 70.00. Clearly cheaper to buy in bulk online.

I ordered my bag on a Thursday and it arrived on Saturday! I was so excited I didn’t know what to do. So of course I went ahead and made a really simply vegan cashew cheese. The Minimalist Baker has a great vegan Parmesan cheese recipe which is where I started.

The recipe calls for four ingredients: cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt. You can get nutritional yeast at Whole Foods or a comparable store. You can buy it in bulk there. Note that the recipe says nothing about soaking the cashews. Normally, vegan cheese recipes will tell you to soak the cashews. I found a comment clarifying not to soak them. That is correct.

So there’s not much to do here! For my first foray with my cashews from Nuts.com I simply dumped all the ingredients into a food processor and whipped it up. Takes about two minutes to do. Before I knew it I had my vegan Parmesan cheese:

 

vegan cheese parm

 

Did it work? Yes! I was nervous about what the taste would be and the whole not soaking the cashews thing, but it turned out great. I have added it to my Caesar salad that I have been making courtesy of Thug Kitchen. Before, that salad either had no cheese on it or it had actual cheese and was vegetarian. Thanks to these cashews, and this recipe, I am rocking out a truly vegan chicken Caesar salad.

My little bag of cocoa nibs.

My little bag of cocoa nibs.

I was very pleased with the quality of my cashews and the price I paid for them. In addition, Nuts.com sent me a little free bad of cocoa nibs. Yes, they are strong, but you can use them a number of ways. There are many recipes online for them, but you can also just shoot a handful. Have a headache? Need caffeine? Want chocolate? Do a shot of cocoa nibs and you’ll likely find yourself feeling better and super alert.

Anyways, I’m excited about Nut.com. I’m going to see how long a five-pound bag lasts me.  They have a 25-pound case for 200.00. That might sound expensive, but it comes out to 7.99 a pound which is super cheap. We’ll see how fast I go through this bag. I’m looking forward to making a lot of vegan cheese and sharing it with you all!

 

 

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