During my time this winter cooking at a retreat center in Costa Rica I realized how many people don't know how to create a healthy well balanced MEAL (especially one without meat!).
"Meal" meaning not just one dish, but two to three foods that create a well balanced and full meal. Or in other words...side dishes to accompany a main course.
As a retreat chef and nutritionist that plans meals (and a passionate foodie!) I have learned how to take a main course and combine it with sides to make a healthy vibrant meal.
It is not a lot of extra work and makes a plate more nutritious, colorful, and delicious! So if you want to impress your family (or yourself!) here are a few plant based meal ideas for you to try. The recipes are linked from some of my favorite bloggers that I think you will enjoy.
PRO TIP: do a batch cook night so that you have ingredients on hand throughout the week. For example boil sweet potatoes, roast veggies, cook brown rice and quinoa, make your fav salad dressing, and cut up any veggies on hand to make week night prep easier!
PLANT BASED MEAL IDEAS
Creamy carrot soup with vegan Thai salad in peanut sauce and optional brown rice.
Sweet potato black bean quesadillas with mango salsa and cole slaw.
Lentil soup with brown rice or quinoa and Moroccan carrot raisin salad.
Soba noodle bowl with cucumber side salad.
Fattoush salad with Baba Ganoush and toasted pita chips.
And just for fun, here is an incredibly easy dessert that received rave reviews at the retreat center in Costa Rica...
Banana nice cream with cinnamon sugar tortilla chips.
Put the nice cream in a pretty glass dish, top with a drizzle of agave syrup, and then wedge in a cinnamon sugar tortilla triangle. It looks so fancy, but is oh so simple!
Do you have any favorite entree and side ideas? Please comment below!
PHOTO by Stacey Hamblett (me!) at Kindred Spirits in Costa Rica.
When you have an abundance of carrots, what do you do? Make carrot cake! I had all the necessary ingredients for a good batch of cake and even had vegan cream cheese in my fridge, so I decided to play with creating a new recipe.
This cake is hearty as it is full of shredded carrots, unsweetened coconut flakes, and walnuts. It is flavorful as it is made with 5 spices, coconut milk, and almond flour. And it is moist and not at all gritty like some gluten free foods can be.
I just baked the cake and alternated from eating as is to simply adding a spreading of vegan cream cheese (Tofutti brand). But you could also make a glaze with vegan powdered sugar, orange zest, orange juice and a bit of coconut or almond milk to thin to the right consistency. Simply whisk all together and pour on.
Or you can make a cream cheese frosting with equal parts of room temperature vegan cream cheese and vegan butter, blended with vegan powdered sugar and vanilla/lemon/orange extract, and a bit of coconut or almond milk to thin to the right consistency. Place all in a bowl and use a handheld mixer to blend until frosting like.
Again, if you want a fast and easy cake though, just bake, let cool, smear on vegan cream cheese, and maybe grate some orange zest on top and VOILA! Eat and enjoy!
CARROT CAKE - VEGAN & GLUTEN FREE
makes one 9" cake layer
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9" springform or cake pan.
1 cup almond flour
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
3 Tbsp. ground flax mixed with 1/2 cup water (let sit 5 minutes to thicken - "flax egg")
1 cup coconut milk (from can, not the beverage)
1/2 cup organic canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla or orange extract
3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped unsweetened coconut
1 cup chopped walnuts or raisins
In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients from flour to spices. In a separate bowl mix the flax egg mixture with coconut milk, oil, and extract. Add the wet mix to the dry and blend until ingredients are all incorporated.
Fold in the carrots, coconut and raisins. Pour mix into pan and bake 50 minutes to 1 hour or until top springs back when lightly touched or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool then either drizzle on glaze, frost, or add cream cheese OR just eat as is! Can be frozen in small pieces and taken out of freezer and microwaved to enjoy anytime.
Delicious fluffy muffins that are vegan and gluten free, and taste delicious, AND don't fall apart!! SUCCESS!
As well, this recipe that I created doesn't use margarine or gums or all white processed gluten free flours. These actually have some protein from almond flour and healthy fats from organic oil.
Try them and they will become your new morning besties!
TRIPLE BERRY MUFFINS - makes 12
1.5 cups almond, soy, or coconut milk
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup organic expeller pressed canola oil
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
2 cups white rice flour
2 cups almond flour
3/4 cup organic cane sugar (plus 1 Tbsp to top)
2 Tbsp. arrowroot powder
1.5 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1.5 cups mixed fresh or frozen berries
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 cup muffin pan.
In a large measuring cup add the cider vinegar to the milk and let curdle about 5 minutes.
In a medium sized bowl whisk together flours, sugar, arrowroot, salt and leavening. Add the oil and extract to the milk mixture and stir. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until evenly blended.
Fold in the mixed berries. To keep the berries from staining the batter coat them in a bit of rice flour.
With an ice cream or cookie scooper scoop the batter into the greased muffin tins. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of sugar. Then place in hot oven and bake about 25 minutes or until golden and firm to the touch.
Let cool and enjoy! These will keep at room temp for 2-3 days or can be frozen. YUM!
Photo by Stacey Hamblett (Me!)
Vegan gluten free lemon coconutty bites of deliciousness!!
I made these Sunday morning to bring to my family's Easter dinner gathering and they were a hit. My aunt, for example, couldn't stop exclaiming "oh my god!" and had to be pulled away from them at one point!
These are ridiculously easy to make and can be flavored a few different ways. If you want vanilla or almond, then just sub the lemon juice for vanilla or almond extract. You could even try subbing lime juice instead of the lemon and add lime zest for a touch of color.
Also you can play with the sweetener and either add all maple syrup, all agave or even try a local honey if you're not vegan. And the drizzle is optional but it adds a touch more flavor and fun!
VEGAN GLUTEN FREE LEMON COCONUT MACAROONS
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment.
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (not flakes)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp almond flour
1/4 cup solid refined organic coconut oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp agave syrup
2 Tbsp lemon juice (plus 1 tsp extra for drizzle)
pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt
3 Tbsp organic powdered sugar (for drizzle)
In a food processor fitted with an S-blade add the coconut, almond flour, coconut oil, sweetener, lemon juice and sea salt, and blend until the mixture forms a dough. This might take about 1-3 minutes.
With a tablespoon cookie scooper, firmly scoop the dough in and slightly press down to compact it. Release scoop onto the lined sheet pan. Make about 20 cookies and place in the oven to bake.
Bake about 15-20 minutes or until the cookies are starting to look golden and are slightly firm to the touch. They will firm up a bit after baking.
Let cool and make the drizzle. In a tiny bowl add the 1 tsp lemon juice and 3 Tbsp powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. The consistency should be thinner than honey. Add more sugar if it's too thin. Add more juice if it's too thick. Then with the whisk or a fork or a knife drizzle glaze onto the macaroons.
Eat and fall in love! They can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge. Or make a double batch and freeze so you can enjoy any time!
Please let me know if you make these and how they come out for you. Enjoy!
Photo by Stacey Hamblett (Me!)
Eating locally and seasonally go hand in hand. When you support those growing and producing food in your region, you will naturally be eating what is seasonally available.
There are many reasons to eat locally and thus seasonally:
Sounds great, right?! So the next step involves finding out where to buy local and seasonal foods. Thankfully there are a plethora of resources available on the internet:
Most of these will give you clues as to what is in season as well, but you can check the Seasonal Food Guide if needed. As it is early April in New Hampshire from where I write, this is what is in season: bok choy, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, potatoes, salad greens, spinach, and turnips. You can also get beans, honey, maple syrup and micro greens.
Click on any of the above seasonal veggies for links to recipes and enjoy nourishing your body, your spirit, your community and your environment by eating local and seasonal!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.