quick lunch: avocado & white bean salad

Here’s how it goes:

I wake up. I work out. P90X style. Chest and back, shoulders and arms, plyometrics, abs, and rigorous runs on the days in between. Intense amounts of pushups. Resistance band pullups. 12lb curls. Sprints at 7.0 on a 4% incline. Oblique v-ups, bicycles, fifer scissors, and all the other crazy-ass crap Tony Horton comes up with. The best I can, anyway. He’s a hard man to keep up with.

Needless to say, after all this, I’m sweaty. I’m panting. I’m tired. I feel awesome. 

I make my protein shake — complete with blended fresh, local/organic greens. I shower.

And then it’s lunch time. 

I love salads. There’s nothing quite like digging into a deep bowl of plant life and feeling that sunny energy zinging through you. 

When I’m eating post-workout, I feel like I need a little protein lift — without time consuming preparation and impromptu shopping trips. I’ve got work in two hours. A girl’s got things to do.

So what do I do? I keep a stockpile of organic canned beans on hand for just this situation. (I like Eden Organic — they carry a wide variety of organic beans in BPA-free cans).  No soaking, no cooking. No time for that; this is a quick lunch.

Throwing this salad together is a really speedy, tasty way to eat a lot of great stuff and feel reenergized after exercise.

Here’s what I like in here:

  • bowlful organic mixed greens, washed and strained (keep it dark kids)
  • 1/2 cup organic great northern beans, rinsed (or bean of your choice)
  • 1/2 an avocado, cubed
  • handful crumbled walnuts, pecans, and slivered almonds
  • handful raisins
  • 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  • drizzle extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Creamy avocado, crunchy walnuts, savory beans, crispy greens. Protein, omegas, you got it all goin’ on. 

Toss it all together. Down it. You’ll love it.

Now go kick ass.

vegan merry berry ice cream

So my brother had his wisdom teeth out.

You remember that. Pain in the face. Ice packs strapped to your cheeks. Hours into a Chopped marathon, deep into a Vicodin haze.

And then the hunger. (Of course — you’re watching Food Network). Cravings for all the solids you want but you know you can’t have. Throbbing pain when you lumber into the kitchen and find out the hard way.

I wanted to help.  So I thought — I know what I’d want, if I had to do it all over again.

So, in the spirit of a beautifully mild January, the pursuit of feeling better, and the enjoyment of a deliciously smooth, berryliciously coconutty, creamily teeth-soothingly cold experience without the digestional grief —

I made him my merry berry ice cream.  

This is really simple — even the most culinarily inept can throw this together. No experience in nondairy desserts? No problem. Not sure if an ice cream is really ice cream without the cream?  Give it a shot and get back to me. 

The creaminess of coconut combined with mixed berries and a hint of vanilla — it’ll blow your dairy eatin’ mind.

Trust me.  He loved it.

Vegan Merry Berry Ice Cream

Time: 5 mins prep, 20 mins in machine

You’ll need:

  • one 14oz can coconut milk
  • 8oz frozen berries (blackberries, raspberries, blueberries) *
  • 1/4 cup raw agave
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Tools:

* Feel free to use fresh berries! While they’re out of season in winter, frozen is what we had on hand.

Pour berries, coconut milk, agave and vanilla into blender.

Blend until you’ve reached a good shake consistency, when the berries are smoothly incorporated.

Pour into ice cream maker.  Churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.  On our Cuisinart, I had it churn for about 20 minutes, until the ice cream took on a solid sorbet consistency. 

Stop when it looks like this. 

Scoop into serving cups. Garnish with berries. Serve immediately.

See how smooth you are?

vegan spiced coconut chai latte

There’s something about tea. 

I can tell you where my tea love comes from.  The hot aroma.  Cold hands cupping winter warmth. Kettles calling. Steeped strengthening color. Vibrant, exotic flavors. Invigorating, radiating heat.

But it’s more than that.

Tea makes you listen.

To a good friend’s unsettled thoughts. To the fervent energy of coffeeshop chatter. To the poetry resonating out a beat up guitar, conceived by an old crooner nobody knows, the moment you first hear it speak.

And when there’s nothing else to absorb, tea gets you face to face with your own thoughts, dancing around in your cup.  Your heart, staring back up at you. 

Sometimes we need that.  This reminder that we’re still tending that well, quietly rippling, stone deep in our core somewhere, waiting to be emptied. 

Because tea also makes you share. 

Tea coaxes out our secrets.

So let it.

Whether it’s in the shadowed corner of a gritty coffeeshop, or over a doily-strewn card table at a proper English breakfast, sometimes you need to let your tea be the vessel for your thoughts. And let another soul be your harbor.

So put on your pot of chai. Grab two mugs. Or three.

Ruminate. Communicate. Illuminate.

And out it floats, your boat.

~

Spiced Coconut Chai Latte

Time: 15 minutes 

Intense. Flavorful. Sweet. Creamy. Rich. Warm. Spicy.

Completely vegan, totally simple.

What you’ll need:

  • organic chai tea (I like Zhena’s Gypsy Tea in coconut chai), two satchels or 1 tbsp loose
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I like So Delicious’ coconut milk in vanilla, unsweetened is good too) 
  • 2 tbsp raw agave, or to taste
  • cinnamon and ginger, to taste

Tools:

  • one small saucepan
  • mesh tea strainer (if using loose leaves)
  • teapot, to strain tea into
  • stirring spoon
  • mug

First, bring water to a boil, with a bit of cinnamon and ginger shaken in. 

Once at a boil, add tea bags (or loose tea) into saucepan. Reduce heat and let simmer for two minutes. Then, remove pan from heat and let steep for 3-5 minutes. 

After steeping, pour in coconut milk. 

Stir. Add agave. 

Return saucepan to stove and bring back to a boil. Stir occasionally. Let boil for a few minutes while tea gets frothy. Then remove from heat. 

Remove tea bags and pour into teapot.  For loose tea, strain through mesh.  Repeat if necessary to remove fine particles. 

Serve hot.

Enjoy.

Sip.

Speak.

vegan breakfast: almond butter & banana toast

This isn’t a recipe that needs instruction.

I’m just here to gently beckon to your inner child. Think back: recall those childhood tastebuds, those simple sandwiches. Toast. 

Simple. So simple. Quick breakfast. Commutable breakfast. Wrap it up in foil and run it onto the train. 

So you’ve stopped eating peanuts. Or perhaps you’ve heard almond butter is all the rage, but you just aren’t quite digging it. It’s not smooth enough, not — peanut buttery enough.

Enter Barney Butter — a deliciously peanut buttery, peanut free, gluten free almond butter. 

Dudes, you’ll love it. You won’t believe it. That IS peanut butter. To me, anyway.

And the bread. The right bread for this is essential. A subtly nutty, banana flavored lift beneath that smoothly sticky bananaey bite. 

Perfect pair. 

Here’s what you need, and specifics matter on this one:

And you know, you can figure this out.  Toast your bread. Slather on the Barney Butter, to your liking. Slice up your banana, and stack a generous pile over your bread. 

CONSUME.

Be happy.  Almonds are good for you. You just made breakfast in three minutes.  You ate fruit.  And you liked it. 

Aren’t you happy you remembered?

* Even though Sami’s bread is made with gluten free ingredients, this product is NOT certified or labeled gluten free, as there’s a risk of trace contamination in production. For celiacs who cannot risk even a trace exposure, please try another brand that is certified 100% gluten free.

kalekicked rice & beans

I’m really taken by color. 

I will stare the sparkles on a Swarovski crystal into oblivion, those elusive scintillating rainbows.  I’ll get lost in a glass teapot of deep burgundy black.  A startling cranberry stain streaked across the kitchen floor. The fleeting green of newspaper fire.

And Christmas lights.  As a kid, fully enthralled by that steady, vibrant electric, I’d hold the tiny bulb of a single light in my hand, studying the glow against my skin. And then I’d reach for another color, moving down the line. Standing in a dark dining room, absorbed by the beauty I cradled in my palms. 

That’s what this time of year makes me think of.  Reflection, observation.  Childhood.  Dark afternoons.  Woodsmoke.  Moon glow.  Soft colors against the house, glimmering in the snow.

Tonight’s dinner made me think of that. 

I had some leftovers staring me in the face, so I wanted to craft them into something new for tonight.  But quickly, with minimal cleanup.  

So I took a look at what I had going on:  A container of cooked organic white rice. A can of organic black beans.  A crate of freshly picked, locally organic leafy greens. 

And so, I thought. Let’s combine this noise.

So I pulled out my sexy skillet.  She’s my 14” stainless beast.  She’s hot and she’s flashy, and she does all my dirty work. 

And she did this.

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late night: speedy guac

Got an avocado on hand? Perhaps a lime? Pair it with a pinch of salt and a bit of onion, and you’ve got yourself a fast, deliciously perfect late night grain-free/guilt-free snack.

You know it happens. The almost-bedtime hunger pang that leads you blazing toward the kitchen like an enamored moth to flame. And your cracker stash….those rice cakes….the popcorn bags…..they’re peering out at you at a half hour to midnight, luring you with the promise of a buttery, salty crunch, just when you’re craving something savory and carby and delightful.

But you’ve been so good.  And you can do better.

Here’s to being the best – and whipping up a fast and super easy, purely vegetable, essential guac recipe that you’ll wholeheartedly enjoy – and your body (and mind) will thank you for it.

This is a late-night culinary craving soothed by a simple smashing. Chopping and dicing take a rain check tonight.

If you’ve got these on hand, it’s incredibly simple:

  • one avocado (it’s plenty).
  • one red, yellow, or white onion (a side of which will be grated).
  • salt. a generous pinch.
  • one wedge of lime.

And that’s it.

Mash the avocado into a bowl.  Get it smooth but slightly chunky.  Grate a bit of your onion into the bowl, to taste.  Drop in a generous pinch of salt.  Taste that too, and don’t be stingy.  Lastly, if you’ve got one, squeeze in a lime wedge.  Mix.  Taste.  Add more of anything you think needs a kick in the ass.  Mix again.  Taste it until it pops.

Grab your organic baby carrots and scoop happily.

But I see what you’re thinking now.  Jesus Gibs, here’s so much more to guacamole – tomato, and garlic! I mean, they’re staples!  And cilantro, jalapeno….how can it be guacamole without those!?

I know.  But believe me when I say it – if guacamole can be whittled down to its absolute essence, in a simply executed creation – these four ingredients make it.  So I say. It’s essential; the flavor is all there.

On an ambitious day (especially a day to serve guac to others), sure, I’ll dice in a bite of cilantro, coax out a warm jalapeño hum and press in the garlic. (Not much of a tomato fan, so I like to omit that). And it so kicks it up.  It’s fantastic that way, and I probably prefer it.

But we’re talking late night here.  Simplicity.  Speed. A one man mission.  All the extras take time; you don’t need to dice and chop and smash late into your Wednesday night. You need to be at work in the morning (without garlic-scented hands) and losing sleep over guacamole is never a good thing. 

So go ahead and scoop.  Take it all in.  That smooth, buttery avocado. The savory flavor of onion. The strike of salt against the sweet, tangy lime. It’s a margarita in the hot summer sun, it’s your toes in the sand, it’s the faint salsa music wafting across the beach. 

And you don’t need anything else.

manhattan: terri

Terri. Sandwich shop of beauty. Manhattan lunchtime gem. 

A quick eats cafe, serving all-vegan fare that even the most carnivorous among us will take down like a bacon cheeseburger?

Yeah. Terri deserves mad props.

Here, I present to you the famous tuna melt.

It looks like tuna. And it’s got a savory tuna melt aroma, not to mention the texture’s there, too.

So what’s their secret?

It’s chickpea salad. That’s it. Chickpeas mashed up with onions and Vegenaise (and other mysterious spices), topped with a fresh slice of tomato, crunchy red onions and melted Daiya cheddar cheese, all wedged between two slices of gluten free bread, if you so choose!

Oh, and you get two of them. For about $8. 

And let me tell you, this is a hearty sandwich. They give you a lot.  And it’s so good.

The chickpeas are mysteriously tuna-like prepared like this, yet they’ve got their own flair. Savory. The tomato and onions are fresh every time, the bread dense and filling. The daiya cheddar is melty and not overdone — it adds a nice subtle touch without getting gloppy. 

The most incredible thing is that here, at Terri, I’m able to grab and go with a sandwich. Tall order for a gluten free girl. Which is why places like these…..well, we hang onto them.  And if you can take comfort knowing you’ll only be getting something completely deliciously veggie and dairy free on your sammies?  Well, all the better. 

Terri is all vegan, sourcing organic ingredients, with a range of delicious sandwich and salads, along with fresh juices, shakes, smoothies, and goodies like cupcakes and kale chips. And, most importantly, they’ve got gluten free bread and wraps for any sandwich.  Where can you go wrong?

If you work in Flatiron, or just like to hang in the sun in Madison Square Park, this is a must-hit for lunch.

Terri, 60 W 23rd St., New York, NY. — F to 23rd St., 1/2 to 23rd St., N/R to 23rd St.

brooklyn: mura sushi

This is probably the most luscious, creamy, buttery avocado sushi you’ve ever had.

I’ve tried a wide variety of sushi places in Park Slope, Brooklyn. And when it comes down to it?  No avocado roll comes close to Mura’s.

It’s a simple thing. But perfectly ripe, excellently portioned avocado rolls are rarer than you’d think.

Mura’s avocado rolls are huge. Generous. The avocado is fresh. Creamy. Perfectly paired with chewy white rice and a speckle of sesame. 

The shiitake avocado roll I had to try twice.  The first time the mushroom was a bit much. Too chewy, too big. 

But the second time they got it right.  Just a hint of shiitake this time, a subtle sensation of a meatier flavor and texture, while avocado is still the star.

I’ve ordered it every time since, and it’s simply perfect. 

Go check it out.

Mura Sushi, 369 5th Avenue, Brooklyn. F/G/R to 4th Avenue/9th St.

vegan breakfast: superprotein oatmeal

It’s oatmeal time. Superprotein style.

Oats in combination with hemp seeds and walnuts creates this protein and omega-packed hearty-ass breakfast that’ll fill you up and never let you down — and it’s quick and easy enough to do in the morning before work. You know, if you go to work in the morning.

Superprotein Oatmeal

Whatever time you decide to make this, you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vanilla hemp or coconut milk
  • half a ripe banana, sliced
  • half an apple, chopped, skin on
  • handful dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, crumbled
  • 1 1/2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 tbsp raw blue agave or pure maple syrup
  • dash cinnamon & nutmeg

Special notes:

  • Portion options: Increase oatmeal to 1/2 cup (and water to 1 cup) if you’d like a bigger portion. I find that 1/3 works just right for me, especially considering the amount of extras you’re throwing into this bad boy.
  • Milk amount can vary: Add more or less nondairy milk depending on your oatmeal style. More for soupy, less for solid.

Brands I use in this recipe:

Firstly, to cook perfect oatmeal:

Combine oats and water in small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Drop heat to low and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cover, and let sit for 2 minutes. Keep your burner on — you’ll need it again.

While your oats are cooking, prep your other ingredients. Slice the fruit, crumble the nuts, measure out your seeds and flakes. This part is faster than it sounds. Collect it all on a plate. 

Once your oats are done, return to burner and add your vegan milk right into the saucepan with it — and mix in your chopped banana, apple, cranberries, crumbled walnuts, hemp seeds, and coconut flakes. Sweeten with agave or maple syrup to your liking, and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Simmer over low heat for a few minutes to bring it up to your desired warmth (as adding the milk will cool it down completely). 

When everything’s all good and hot, dump into a bowl and dig in. 

Here are your protein highlights:

  • 1/2 cup of rolled oats — 7g. [1/3 cup rolled oats — 4.6g].
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of hemp seeds — 5g.
  • 1/4 cup walnuts — 5g. 

And there’s more. Essential fatty acids. Hemp and coconut are magic.

Pro tip: combine your superprotein oatmeal with a vegan rice or hemp-based protein shake (about 15g) and you’ll have already surpassed half of your daily protein requirement, all before 9am!

Happy breakfast.