October 26, 2013

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal

I'm in love with Oatmeal. When I'm craving bad foods, I crave Chocolate Oatmeal. Which incidentally, last night I really really wanted to substitute my dinner with a large bowl of my Dark Chocolate Mudslide Oats. I'm generally not the kind of person who eats chocolate-based cereals or foods for breakfast - but today, for some reason, it was calling my name (maybe because I deprived myself last night!). This recipe was inspired by a post I saw from The Oatmeal Artist just yesterday - Fifty Toppings to Spruce Up any Porridge! She had a picture of a cup of oatmeal topped with Caramelized banana. While her recipe called for molasses, honey and orange juice, mine relies on the sweetness of the banana itself. 

Caramelized Banana Oats
Prep Time: 10-15 min

Ingredients (Serves 1):
  1. 0.5 cup Rolled (Old-Fashioned Oats)
  2. 1 cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
  3. 1/2 medium Banana
  4. 1 tbsp Flax Seed Meal
  5. 0.5 tbsp Natural Creamy Peanut Butter
  6. 2 tbsp Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  7. 0.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
  8. 1-2 tsp Brown Sugar (for topping, optional)

Slice banana in 2 halves lengthwise and crosswise. Place in an ungreased oven safe dish/plate and broil on HI for 5-10 minutes. Keep an eye on the oven as the banana can go from caramelized to burnt really quickly. It will first start to wilt under the heat, and then slowly bubble on top before turning a lovely golden brown. While the banana is in the oven, mix oats, flax seed meal, peanut butter and half the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and cook on high for 3-5 minutes. Remove the bowl once in the middle of this time to mix well. Once oats are done, remove carefully from microwave, mix vanilla extract in and transfer to a serving dish. Once bananas are nice and golden, remove the dish from the oven and carefully transfer onto the oatmeal. Top off with a light sprinkle of brown sugar (optional) and remaining chocolate chips! Voila!!! 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 426 (Fat Calories 129)
Total Fat 14.3 g; Carbohydrates 64.7 g; Fiber 11.7 g; Sugars 22.9 g; Protein 11.6 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

October 24, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower & Spinach Salad

This evening while driving home from work I knew I wanted to use that head of cauliflower in the fridge for dinner. After not cooking cauliflower because of some mistaken notion that it would stink up my house for many many years, I've come to really love the flavor, aroma and taste of simple Roasted Cauliflower. Cut up the florets, toss the cauliflower in a gallon bag with a splash of water and whatever spices you like, toss everything together and then spread it all out on a cookie sheet and broil on high for 10-12 minutes. Umm mmm good!! Here's my standard Roasted Cauliflower recipe. 

As I was dreaming of my roasted cauliflower .. I was also dreaming of my box of baby spinach and the awesome batch of homemade hummus I made the other night! I guess I was hungry :)!!! Soon after getting home, I found a recipe I knew I could adapt to my tastes and preferences (umm no oil!), use the ingredients I'd been dreaming about and have it turn out great!! 

Adapted from: Modern Family Cooking

Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 1 head of Cauliflower (any color, about 2 cups of florets)
  2. 1 x 15oz Canned Chickpeas, rinsed and 
  3. 4 Mini Cucumbers, sliced (about 1 cup)
  4. 1 Bell Pepper (any color, preferably Red or Orange), diced
  5. 1/2 cup Quinoa, pre-cooked in water and chilled. 
  6. 3 cups Baby Spinach
  7. 4 tbsp Homemade Hummus* (plain or roasted red pepper) (or more, to taste)
  8. 1/2 cup Cold Water
  9. 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  10. 3 drops of Liquid Smoke
  11. Salt and Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375° F.  Whisk hummus, liquid smoke and 1/2 cup of iced water in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside. Transfer drained and rinsed chickpeas and cauliflower (cut into small bite-sized florets) into a gallon zip lock bag with nutritional yeast, freshly cracked black pepper and about a third of the thinned out hummus. Close bag and toss everything together until the cauliflower and chickpeas are well coated with the hummus. Transfer to a rimmed cookie sheet and broil on high for 10-12 minutes until the tips of the cauliflower start to caramelize and char. Meanwhile in a large bowl, mix diced pepper, baby spinach. sliced cucumbers and quinoa and toss well with hands. Sprinkle liberally with freshly cracked black pepper. Once the cauliflower and chickpeas are ready, remove from oven and set aside for just a minute. Add remaining thinned out hummus to the bowl with greens and quinoa and toss well, top off with roasted veggies, toss and serve immediately. This salad makes 4 side-salad sized servings, or 2 large dinner-sized salad servings! Enjoy!

My Assessment: Tony wants me to make this for our Friendsgiving dinner which we celebrate a weekend after Thanksgiving every year. I guess in my head, hearing that from a self-proclaimed hummus-hater, this recipe is a hit!!! :)

Home-made Hummus*: Blend one can of chickpeas (rinsed & drained) with 1/2 to 2/3 cup water, 2 cloves of garlic, 1-2 tbsp Tahini (sesame seed butter, optional) and 2-3 tbsp lemon juice until smooth. Add more water, as needed to make a smooth paste. Store refrigerated for up to a week. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 205 (Fat Calories 26)
Total Fat 2.9 g; Carbohydrates 37.0 g; Fiber 8.8 g; Sugars 4.0 g; Protein 12.4 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

October 14, 2013

Mediterranean Chickpea Pilaf

Most of the regular visitors to my blog know that I love rice. I grew up eating it. Its a staple in my diet. While I am okay with almost any kind of rice and have actually come to prefer Brown Basmati rice, my dear husband is not a big fan of anything other than white rice. So often, when I'm making a rice-based entrée, I'll use White Basmati rice. My way-around, adding more fiber and lowering the starch content is to add lots of beans and lentils and vegetables to most dishes. 

Prep Time: 20-30 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 2 x 15 oz Cans of Chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
  2. 1 cup White Basmati Rice
  3. 1 x 10 oz Fresh Baby Spinach
  4. 2 cups water.
  5. 4-5 tbsp Tomato Paste
  6. 1 tsp Onion Powder
  7. 1 tsp Garlic powder
  8. 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  9. Salt & Pepper, to taste
  10. 1/3 cup Raisins (optional)
Line a heavy lidded stock pot (preferably cast iron) with a half a cup of water and add tomato paste, spices and chickpeas and bring to a boil. Add baby spinach to the pot, reduce heat to medium low and cover for 5 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt. Mix well. The spinach will release its water and the mix at this point will look like a thick gravy. Add rice and raisins (optional), mix well and add 1.5 cups of tap water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and cover with lid, with just a slight gap (couple of millimeters) to allow some steam to escape. Cook for about 8-10 min until rice is bite-tender. At this point, cover the pot completely with its lid, turn off the stove and let the pot sit on the stove for about 10 more minutes. This will allow any residual bite in the rice to cook and will also allow any excess water to be absorbed by the rice. This step is a good one to follow for any rice based dishes. This last 10 minutes makes for a fluffy pilaf. Serve garnished with freshly cracked black pepper. 

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 348 (Fat Calories 38)
Total Fat 4.2 g; Carbohydrates 69.7 g; Fiber 9.3 g; Sugars 3.5 g; Protein 13.9 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

October 13, 2013

Chunky Potato, Broccoli & Mushroom Soup

This afternoon, I had broccoli and mushrooms in the fridge that needed to be used soon. I have often oven roasted the two together and they make for a great side dish. Oven roasting caramelizes the tips of the broccoli and adds a certain smokiness to the vegetable. Umm Umm Good!! Today however, I was making an Artisan Bread as well and wanted to make something which I could eat with bread. And what's better to eat with bread than a soup. 

Prep Time: 30-40 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):

  1. 2 cups Broccoli florets
  2. 1 Red onion, chopped 
  3. 6 Large Cremini mushrooms
  4. 3-4 Medium Redskin Potatoes, diced
  5. 6 cups of Home-made Vegetable Broth
  6. 1 tbsp Minced Garlic
  7. 2 tsp Dried Parsley
  8. 2 tsp Dried Basil
  9. 2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  10. 1 tsp Liquid Smoke
  11. Salt & Pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients with the exception of salt, pepper, liquid smoke and diced potatoes in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 min until onions and broccoli are tender and breaking apart. 

Using an immersion blender, puree everything until smooth. If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer carefully into a jar blender and blend until smooth. Once pureed, add diced potatoes and salt to taste and simmer on low until potatoes are tender (~10-12 minutes). Add liquid smoke, taste test for salt, garnish with freshly cracked black pepper and serve with fresh bread!! 

My Assessment: This is my green version of a hearty potato soup. When I first made it, it tasted fine but was missing something and that's when I was reminded of my little bottle of magic :) Liquid Smoke. This soup cried out to be eaten after that ;)

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 196 (Fat Calories 7)
Total Fat 0.8 g; Carbohydrates 41.8 g; Fiber 6.5 g; Sugars 3.8 g; Protein 8.3 g

* Nutrition facts are provided for the water option as vegetable broth calorie content can vary.

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

Onion, Garlic & Rosemary Artisan Loaf

I made yet another loaf of bread made this weekend. If you're wondering what the heck is wrong with this poor herbivore - don't worry! I'm not going crazy. I'm hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner this year and only want to impress everyone with my awesome bread making skills. Hence the weekly attempts to make something amazing :) !!! This week's recipe is a slight variation of a the Rosemary Garlic Artisan Loaf I tried a few weeks ago and this version was loved much more by the hubby! 

Onion, Garlic & Rosemary Artisan Loaf
Time Required: 20 min prep time, ~3.5 hours rise time, 45 min oven time.

  1. 4 cups King Arthur's Bread flour (plus more for dusting)
  2. 1.5 cups (+ a couple extra tbsp) Water
  3. 1 Medium Red Onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  4. 2 tbsp Minced Rosemary (fresh)
  5. 2 tbsp Minced Garlic 
  6. 2 tsp Coarse Salt (Sea or Kosher)
  7. 2 tsp Black Pepper (freshly cracked)
  8. 2 tsp Dried Chives 
  9. 1 tsp Active Dry Yeast
Measure out the flour, yeast, salt, diced onions, chives minced garlic and rosemary in a bowl. I measure directly into my Cuisinart Stand Mixer. 

Add water and start mixing (I used the lowest speed setting #2) using the dough hook. As the water is incorporated, the dough should come together as a large ball. If there are crumbs still sticking to the sides after a couple of minutes, add more water in 1 tablespoon portions until everything is incorporated. Depending upon how fresh or old your flour is it may sometimes need just a tad extra water. Be patient. It is very easy to overdo the water and you will then need to add more flour. You will most likely not need to much. I needed just 3 additional tablespoons of water today. Mark the clock time and knead for 15 minutes.

Once you successfully achieve a windowpane with the dough, you can stop kneading (a piece of dough and be stretched out and it will become translucent, allowing light through like a window pane). This is how my dough looked after 15 minutes of kneading. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the dough to a well floured surface. I find a silicone baking mat works best for me. Lightly dust your fingers and the surface and shape the dough into a ball. I put the ball back into the Cuisinart bowl and set it aside to rise on the kitchen counter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for approximately 3 hours. If your house is cold as it can be in the fall, try the oven method I talked about in an earlier recipe). 

I allowed an approximately 3 hour rise time today. The dough expanded to about 3x its original size in this time. Start preheating the oven to 450° F. In my past attempts, I've actually preheated my cast iron dutch oven at the same time as the oven. However, several of the recipes I've come across do you preheat the dutch oven so I decided to try it without this time. I was however, worried about the dough sticking to the bottom of a cold dutch oven so I decided to cut out a round of parchment paper and use that to place my dough into the bowl. 

Remove dough from the bowl it is rising in and using lightly dusted fingers, shape it into a bowl. At this time be careful to not disturb the gluten fibers by kneading it too much. I placed the dough on my round piece of parchment paper and scored it once, straight across the top. Let the dough sit in the cold bowl for another 15 minutes or so. Once oven is ready, and the loaf has rested for 15 minutes, cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes at 450° F.

This is how my loaf looked after 30 min. Remove lid and set aside. Bake uncovered for another 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown.

Remove pot from oven. With the parchment paper, the loaf had no chance to stick to the pot at all. gently turn it over onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely before slicing into this awesome bread. Here are some pictures of the crumb

As you can see, there was a lot of rise and a lot of air. The rise held really well. The crust was a crunchy golden brown, but it was not so hard that I was scared to slice into it. 

On this slice of bread you can see the sprinkling of black pepper and the pieces of onion as well. Overall, this was an awesome loaf. According to Tony, this has been my best loaf so far (yes!). He wants this one on our Thanksgiving table. We'll see ... :)

Nutrition Facts (One Loaf): Calories 1853 (Fat Calories 13)
Total Fat 1.4 g; Carbohydrates 371 g; Fiber 22.3 g; Sugars 2.5 g; Protein 67.8 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

Creamy Blueberry Yogurt Oats

I recently got my blood work done. Most of you probably already saw all the details on Facebook. After 2 years of being plant-based, I am finally in the awesome range with a cholesterol value under of 139 mg/dL. Based on the Framingham study, the risk of cardiac events in folks with total cholesterol below 150 mg/dL is essentially nonexistent. Yeah!! So what do I attribute this to? Along with giving up meat and dairy, I've added a large bowl of oatmeal to my daily routine. Because Oats are digested slowly, compared to commercially available sugary cereals, oats help maintain sugar levels stable, while providing a longer-lasting steady flow of energy. Unique to oats, are small antioxidant molecules called avenanthramides, which help prevent free radicals from damaging LDL cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. See this article for more information (Oats and Avenanthramides). In the end, I'm not sure what helped get my numbers down, I'm just glad they are :) !!!

Creamy Blueberry Oats
Prep Time: 5 min

Ingredients (Serves 1):

  1. 1/2 cup Old-Fashioned (Rolled) Oats
  2. 1 tbsp Chia Seeds
  3. 2/3 cup Frozen Blueberries
  4. 1 cup Non-Dairy Milk 
  5. 2-3 tbsp Non-Dairy Yogurt
  6. 1 tsp Vanilla extract
Mix oats, non-dairy milk, chia seeds and 1/2 cup blueberries in a microwave save bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes. If you want, you can also soak them overnight for the same effect, or cook the oats on the stove-top. In the end you want the oats to be nice and soft, but not mushy or crunchy. Once ready, mix vanilla extract and sweetener (optional) of choice. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with remaining blueberries and top off with non-dairy yogurt. I had Vanilla flavored Silk Soymilk yogurt at home today!! Mix well to incorporate the creaminess of the yogurt into the oats and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 350 (Fat Calories 102)
Total Fat 11.3 g; Carbohydrates 53.6 g; Fiber 12.8 g; Sugars 14.9 g; Protein 11.2 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

October 7, 2013

Squash Soup

This soup is a variation of HH Butternut Squash Soup only in that I've used 2 different kinds of squash instead of butternut squash which is what the original recipe calls for. It's a perfect low calorie and very delicious fall meal. You can eat huge bowls of it and never gain weight as it doesn't have a drop of fat in it. 

Prep Time: 20 min (with pre-roasted squash)

Ingredients (Serves 2):

  1. 1 Medium Acorn Squash (~1 cup cooked flesh)
  2. 1 Medium Carnival Squash (~ 2 cups cooked flesh)
  3. 4 cups Water or Home-made Vegetable Broth
  4. 1-2 tsp Cumin Powder
  5. 1 tbsp Penzey's Curry Powder
  6. Salt and Pepper, to taste
  7. 2 tbsp Tofutti Cream Cheese (optional)
I usually roast squash the day I buy them and often roast multiple different varieties at the same time. To roast, preheat oven to 375 ° F. Wash squash well and using a sharp knife and a steady hand slice each squash in half. Using a spoon, remove all seeds and strings from the hollow center set aside. Place each half, cut-side-down, on a cookie sheet or an oven safe baking dish and and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a pin inserted into the flesh glides in and out easily with minimal pressure. Some caramelization around the bottom is normal and will only add to the flavor of this soup.  A good sign is when the skin starts to sag or becomes much darker in color. Remove from oven, allow to cool and scoop out flesh into a tupperware container if saving for later. If making the soup immediately, transfer to a blender). I use a stick blender so I just transfer to my cooking pot. Once roasted, the flesh can be frozen until ready to use or stored refrigerated for 2-3 days.  To the pot, add vegetable broth and spices and blend using an immersion blender until smooth. Continue to gently heat on the stove over low heat, until bubbly. Add salt to taste and stir in some tofutti cream cheese to add a creamy texture (I don't always use this but for guests it adds that extra decadence). Serve hot with freshly cracked black pepper. Yum!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)*: Calories 116 (Fat Calories 31)
Total Fat 3.5 g; Carbohydrates 20.4 g; Fiber 3.7 g; Sugars 4.1 g; Protein 3.2 g

* Nutrition facts are provided for the water option as vegetable broth calorie content can vary.

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

October 6, 2013

Dark Chocolate Mudslide Oats

Last night Tony was craving chocolate. He's been doing so well with being plant-based recently. But he was really craving it bad and was on the brink of running out to the neighborhood gas station and picking up a pint of Rocky Road ice cream. Of course, I couldn't let that happen!! I promised I'd satisfy his chocolate craving, even while using Oats, which he just happens to despise unless they're in Chocolate Chip cookies. I searched the vegan blogs for various recipes and found one which didn't look quite as appetizing as I wanted it to be but I knew I could adapt very easily. 

Dark Chocolate Mudslide Oats

Prep Time: 5-7 min

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 3/4 cup Rolled (Old-Fashioned Oats)
  2. 1.5 tbsp Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
  3. 1 tbsp Flax Seed Meal
  4. 1 cup Unsweetened Non-Dairy Milk
  5. 2 tbsp Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  6. 1 pinch of Coarse Salt
  7. 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  8. 1 tbsp Molasses
  9. Maple Syrup (to taste)
  10. Dried Coconut Flakes (optional)
  11. Sliced/Slivered Almonds (optional)
Mix Oats, cocoa, flax seed meal, non-dairy milk (I used almond milk!), salt, molasses in a microwave safe bowl and cook on high for about 3-4 minutes until the mix is no longer runny but nice and creamy. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave and mix in vanilla extract. Add more sweetener, if needed. I used Maple syrup but you can use whatever you like to use. The molasses do add a lot of color and sweetness so be sure to taste test. Mix well. Serve warm with chocolate chips sprinkled on top. On my bowl, I also sprinkled about a teaspoon of dried coconut flakes and another teaspoon of sliced almonds for some crunch!! Tony had his with only chocolate chips!

Dark Chocolate Mudslide Oats with my fixins :)
My Assessment: This was amazing. I knew Tony would never go for the original recipe. It was way to runny in the original pictures but I knew the flax seed meal would act like a binder (kind of like a flax egg) and result in a creamier texture. I also added more oats (1.5x) than the single serving the original recipe called for to make it even less runny. Overall, cooking the oats until the runniness is gone (4 min for my microwave) resulted in almost a fudgy pudding like texture. LOVED IT!!!

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving): Calories 253 (Fat Calories 68)
Total Fat 7.5 g; Carbohydrates 41.8 g; Fiber 6.8 g; Sugars 14.4 g; Protein 6.5g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!