People living their passions, that’s what life is all about, right? And what if you could live your passion in your work? Win win! I can’t wait to introduce you to two inspiring folks doing just that…
A few months back, I received a friendly email from the lovely Sarah O’Toole, a recent San Diego transplant & the creator, along with her fiancé Peter, of Cooking with CSAintroducing me to their program & offering to share some of their seasonal plant-based recipes with Vegenista readers. As I learned more about their program, inspiration, & philosophy, I more than welcomed the offer to share their awesome work here. I’ve been a local CSA (community supported agriculture) subscriber for the past 4 years, & feel strongly about eating as locally, seasonally, & organically as possible, so the notion of “Cooking with CSA” is right up my alley. Also, as you may remember, I am an educator, so as I learned more, I realized we shared an even greater passion - educating children about healthy food - I was even more excited to share their mission. As a speech-language therapist in the public schools, I am often astonished & astounded by what I see children consuming - whether it’s from the school lunch program, or their own lunch boxes. Most kids don’t know what “real food” is or where it comes from. It’s such a shame, & there has got to be another way! And fortunately Sarah & Peter intend to pave that way…
Cooking with CSA was born out of Sarah & Peter’s mission to educate kids, inspire teens & empower young adults to take responsibility for their health. They wanted to show younger generations how fun eating healthy could be, so they began teaching plant-based cooking classes in San Diego schools for children. And they admit, at first it was hard, while being armed with “Kale Juice, Collard Wraps & Quinoa Salad” often evoked strange looks. But the students eventually embraced it, & those who only ate white pasta were asking for kale juice by the end of the program! While the classes were great, as time went on more & more parents approached Sarah & Peter asking for recipes & support, because they did not know how to make kale chips or green smoothies their kids were asking for. They had no idea where to buy these products or how to cook them. And if they didn’t have the resources they needed…healthy eating couldn’t happen!
Cooking with CSA now offers a Seasonal Recipe Subscription site which gives parents all the resources & tools they need to get their family to eat healthy & love it.Their goal is to get people to shop locally & really take advantage of all the wonderful farmers’ markets we have here in sunny San Diego, cook more, & use fresh, local, organic ingredients. That is certainly something I can get behind!
And, in the kind spirit of Thanksgiving, Sarah lovingly offered these two beautiful recipes, full of healthy, but tasty, organic ingredients. These dishes are very likely going to grace my holiday table, & will be a healthful treat to the whole family! Enjoy!
"Pumpkin Seed Salad"
(Makes 1 large salad, serves 2-4)
1 head of lettuce
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
1/4 of a red onion
sea salt & pepper to taste
1 package flax tempeh
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika (or 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke)
1 Tbsp. tamari (or water)
Tbsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. olive or flax oil
2 lemons juiced
2 Tbsp. honey (maple syrup or agave, if vegan)
1 tsp. cumin
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
dash of sea salt
Chop tempeh into small cubes. Place in a medium bowl. Add remaining tempeh ingredients. Stir well and set aside
Chop lettuce, tomatoes, onions & grate carrots. Place in a large bowl. Set aside.
Next make the dressing: grind pumpkin seeds in a coffee grinder. Place pumpkin seeds in a glass measuring cup or medium bowl.
Mince garlic & add it along with the remaining dressing ingredients to measuring cup or bowl. Mix well.
When ready to serve, add tempeh to bowl and then top with dressing, mix well. Add salt & pepper if desired.
"Rich Chocolate Cake with Fresh Apples"
(Makes 1 loaf)
1/2 cup coconut oil, at room temperature
1 cup coconut sugar
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp. flax meal to 3 Tbsp. water)
1 cup coconut buttermilk (add one lemon wedge to milk and stir, let sit for 10 minutes)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup cacao powder (or cocoa)
1/4 cup toasted carob powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 dash sea salt
Preheat oven to 350°F & line a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
Make the flax egg & coconut buttermilk, set aside.
In a large bowl, use a silicon spatula & mash the coconut oil until smooth. Add the sugar & mix until smooth.
Add the flax “egg” & mix even more, then add the coconut buttermilk & vanilla.The batter will look a bit uneven & will separate, that’s normal.
Sift the flour, cacao, toasted carob, baking soda, baking powder & salt together into the wet ingredients. Stir well with a metal spoon, but don’t over mix.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, making sure that all the ingredients are well blended. Then pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Top with 8-12 thin apple slices, laying them two by two, they will overlap slightly. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes.
Cool in pan on a rack for about 15 minutes, at which point you can remove cake from pan & slice.
I hope you enjoyed meeting these inspiring healthy eating crusaders & encourage you to visit their website, learn about their programs, & check out their calendar of events. And, if you’re local…
Come celebrate at the CSA Holiday Party! For the first time ever they’ll be gathering members from ALL the different CSA’s in San Diego! Meet others facing the same challenges, but gaining the same benefits, learn secrets to making the most out of your box, get a packet of Cooking with CSA’s favorite fall & winter recipes - perfect for the upcoming holidays - & get their top 5 kid friendly CSA Recipes! Learn more here.
Hampton Creek Foods Chipotle Mayo Review & a Recipe!
So this post was a long time coming! Something I meant to share weeks ago, but I’ve been too darn busy. Anyhoo…I’ve got an exciting review for you!
After reading Choosing Raw’s write up & interview with the creator of Hampton Creek Foods, producer of the truly innovative products "Beyond Eggs" & "Just Mayo,"I was super intrigued & wanted to give it a try for myself. The only problem? It’s not available in stores yet! So I decided to reach out to them & ask if they would be interested in sending me a few samples to review for Vegenista. Almost immediately, the wonderful people at Hampton Creek Foods emailed back & said they’d be happy to send me “samples” right away. A few days later a large box arrived with beyond generous “samples” of their Just Mayo, Chipotle Mayo, Beyond Eggs for Cookies & a recipe book. Wow. Just. Wow.
For the 1st half of this review I am going to focus on the mayo. So what’s the big idea? "Just Mayo" is a sustainable, delicious It’s a full fat mayonnaise that uses "Beyond Eggs" in place of egg yolk in the emulsification process. In addition it’s….
No Artificial Colors or Flavors
And…I am delighted to report….it’s good! I’ve done other reviews of vegan mayos, & i am often disappointed. Nothing ever seems to compare to everyone’s coveted Vegenaise. To my surprise, in a side by side taste test with Vegenaise, Just Mayo held it’s own. I found them to be very similar in taste & texture. The differences, Just Mayo has a slightly thinner texture, & there is the tiniest bit of sweetness in the finish.
The Chipotle Mayo has a nice little kick to it, without being too spicy or over powering. It would be perfect on a vegan burger, or would make a nice zesty vegan coleslaw!
It’s back to school time, which means back to work for me at my job as a Speech & Language therapist, & back to packing early morning lunches! Most of the time I throw together a quick salad of fresh lettuce, veggies, legumes, avocado & homemade dressing, but sometimes I crave sandwiches too & one of my favorites Tofu “Egg” Salad. I have a few different variations that I like to play with - traditional, curried, truffled, etc. & I like to keep it served simply on ezekiel bread with lettuce & sprouts. It makes for a wonderful & satisfying lunch on the go since I am usually working at my desk, or en route to a therapy session when lunchtime rolls around! For this review I tried a spin on my more “traditional” version, using the Chipotle Mayo where I would normally use my tried & true Vegenaise. And it did not disappoint. Creamy, zesty, crunchy & delicious. This is my new fave!
"Beyond Eggless Salad" featuring Hampton Creek Foods’ Chipotle Mayo
Makes 4 servings
1 package of organic extra firm tofu, pressed & drained
1/2 cup vegan chipotle mayo
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 green onions (white & green parts) finely diced
1 large carrot, shredded
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
3/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp, freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
Crumble tofu with your hands into a large bowl.
Add vegan mayo, red pepper, green onions, parsley, mustard, turmeric, salt & pepper, & mix thoroughly.
Serve in a lettuce cup, between 2 slices of sprouted whole grain bread, scooped into a pita pocket, or wrapped in a whole grain tortilla.
Is it bad to admit that I liked the Chipotle Mayo so much that I’ve already used the whole jar? Yep, guilty as charged. In addition to making a delightful eggless salad, the Chipotle Mayo is also wonderful on avocado toast for just an added bit of zing, as a sandwich spread of course, & even used as an aioli dip for sweet potato fries (oh yes she did!).
So the question on your minds probably is…would I spend my hard earned money on a jar of this stuff? Why, yes, yes I would. Absolutely! So when can you grab a jar of this for yourselves? Soon, I hope! In the meantime, you can ask for Just Mayo at the prepared foods/deli section of your local Whole Foods which will help increase demand so that Hampton Creek Foods products can get their products into stores & on to shelves faster.
This is a company to keep an eye on friends. They are doing some exciting things, so be sure to check out their website, & connect with them on Facebook, & Twitter.
And stay tuned for a “Beyond Eggs for Cookies” review in the very near future. Now that the temperature has cooled down enough for me to turn on my oven, it’s time to bake some cookies!
Review Disclaimer: These products were sent to me free of charge for editorial review. All opinions are my own.
I know we’ve hit the peak of summer produce season when my CSA box shifts from lots of greens & root veggies to eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, & summer squash. It’s here! Even though I love eating with the seasons, I tend to tire quickly of the eggplant & peppers, finding that I have to extend a bit more creativity when preparing the dishes they star in. But at least it keeps me on my toes & I often find with a bit of patient brainstorming, a delicious new recipe comes to life - like these killer roasted veggie tacos that I made last summer. Holy yes! I considered making those again, then I contemplated creating eggplant & squash enchiladas (Mexican food is always a win!), which had been the plan before the week escaped me. Before I knew it, my CSA pick up day was upon me & what was promised? Of course, more eggplant & peppers. I had to make room, & fast. What better way than with a “clean out the fridge” curry?
I love curry. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s versatile. No matter what time of year, a satisfying curry dish can be adapted per what is in season. I enjoy a sweet green curry with delicate spring veggies, or a spicy red curry with winter squash & beans, but I couldn’t quite recall a summer variation, so why not add one to the repertoire? Up until recently, I was, admittedly, a “cheater curry” kinda gal, relying on the store bought jars from Trader Joe’s, but last spring my friend P & I made the "Easy Weeknight Curry" from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Everyday & I quickly realized how easy it was (& much more flavorful) to make a simple curry with veggies, coconut milk & curry paste. No more jarred crap for me.
For this summer inspired version, I used Heidi’s sauce recipe as my baseline, & basically cleaned out the fridge - eggplant, summer squash, red pepper, antohi romanian pepper, yellow tomato, & bunching onions - were all begging to be put into this make-shift dish. And I knew it would work since a.) seasonal veggies have a way of working beautifully together, & b.) this simple simmer sauce is super delicious on just about anything. I was confident & it fulfilled my expectations.
As I mentioned, this simple sauce is delish - to the point of almost being drinkable. What’s not to crave when you marry a rich & creamy coconut milk with a vibrant curry paste comprised of red curry pepper ginger, lemon grass & kaffir lime? The sauce, in & of itself could drown even the most dreaded of veggies (& I know for some of you it’s eggplant!) in a pool of joyful curried decadence. Trust me on this.
While this “recipe” was a bit of an “intuitive” venture, here is a rough recap of what was used.
"Summer Vegetable Curry with Eggplant & Summer Squash"
1 1/2 Tbsp, coconut oil
1 bunch bunching onions, or 1 onion, diced
2 Japanese eggplants, about 2 cups, quartered & sliced into 3/4 inch pieces
mixed summer squash, about 1 1/2 cups, diced
mixed peppers, about 1 cup, diced
1 yellow tomato, diced
3 tsp. Thai red curry paste
1 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
sea salt to taste
Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion & a pinch of salt. Sauté until the onion starts to become translucent
In the meantime, in a small bowl, mash the curry paste with a few tablespoons of the coconut milk. Add this to the pot and stir until the onions are well coated. Stir in the remaining coconut milk.
Bring to a simmer, then add eggplant, squash & peppers. Cover reduce to low & simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies are tender.
Uncover & add the broth, stir & taste. Add salt a little at a time until the flavors in the curry really pop. As Heidi says, this is a crucial step!
This is not a thick sauce, so I like to serve it over a bit of brown basmati or jasmine rice to sop up all the liquid goodness. As time was of the essence, in this instance, I made a quick batch of whole wheat couscous. Or you may desire to serve it solo, with a side of vegan naan for the sopping! What ever floats your curry boat.
Delicious, quick, colorful, vegan curry, satisfied belly & a, for now, an eggplant free fridge. Enjoy!
Whole Wheat Lemon Scones & Strawberry-Lemon Chia Jam
Every once & a while a day comes along where there is not much on the agenda. No work, no plans, no obligations. Perhaps a jog, or a yoga class to fill in some space, otherwise…an empty calendar. Days like this, I most often find myself gravitating towards the kitchen, immersing myself in some sort of culinary undertaking. If I could spend all of my days like this, I would.
On this particular lazy morning, I awoke to a grey sky & wet ground. Could it be? Rain? A rare occurrence in typically “sunny” San Diego, but one that is always welcome by me. And when the weather turns, I like to bake. But first, coffee, email, & a scroll through the tumblr dash, & I stumbled upon a recipe for "Strawberry Lemon Chia Jam" from this darling blog, Going Home to Roost.
I had a basket of berries from the CSA which, as you can see, were nearing expiration. I knew I had to put them to use while still salvageable, not to mention I am always looking for new ways to sneak chia seeds into my diet!
And…I get to use one of my Wreck Canning Jars! Yay! I love these! I saw them on Bittersweet & had to start a collection. I get them from Pigment in San Diego’s North Park ‘hood, but they’re also available at Crate & Barrel. They’re great for jams, obviously, but also salad dressings, pickles, etc, & there is even a “juice jar” which I find is perfect for homemade nut milk. I’m obsessed.
This jam could not have been easier to prepare. Fresh berries, chia seeds, lemon juice, & agave. No need for store bought with added sugars & preservatives when you can easily DIY? And the flavor? Outstanding. The bright & zest lemon marries beautifully with sweet & summery strawberries. Once set, the chia seeds expand in their “gelatinous” way, giving this jam great texture without the use of gelatin (yuck) or pectin, & also giving you a great source of omega-3s & antioxidants.
So, what to pair with it? Not any ol’ piece of toast would do. I thought about muffins, or biscuits, & then…scones. I became a lover of scones when my old house mate & very best friend Anne used to spend her weekend mornings making all manner of scones - coming up with tasty & often unique flavor combinations with different berries, herbs, preserves, etc. She was definitely an artisanal scone bakestress, & I owe my love of scones to her. However, my previous attempts at vegan scone making failed to impress, so I’d learned to live without them. Until now. It was time to see if I could a vegan scone recipe that would pair perfectly with my jam. And thus, I came across this "Lemon Vegan Scone" recipe that seemed as complimentary to my jam, as it was promising. The only problem? I was out of flour. So I put whole wheat pastry flour to the test, hoping to impart a lighter texture, than the “stone brick” scones I’d made in the past. And I am happy to report…it worked!
In a medium bowl, sift flour, sugar, powder, soda, salt & lemon zest. With a pastry cutter or with your hands, cut coconut oil. into dry ingredients. Mixture should be crumbly. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk, lemon juice & ACV. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes, until it begins to curdle. Add vanilla extract.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients & fold gently with a spatula until dough comes together. It will be sticky. On a heavily floured surface, knead dough gently. Place on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet, & form into a circle approximately 1 to 2 inches thick. Brush with almond milk & sprinkle with extra sugar.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until scones are golden brown on the edges.
The scones were light & fluffy, & a bit on the crumbly side, but better crumbly than a solid brick! They were just lovely with the tangy strawberry jam & might be even better with a drizzle of sweet vanilla glaze! A definite addition next time.