Monday, January 21, 2013

Vegan Lentil Burgers

This recipe is a little more time consuming than I normally would put in, but when you serve it up to three kids under 12 and not only do they eat it, but they love it, (and when you know that burger is made up of healthy lentils and vegetables) it's well worth the effort.

I often think that the reason so many people eat the food they do is because they've not been exposed to other ideas. For instance, parents always comment on all the kinds of different foods my kids will eat, from Thai food to Japanese food, to vegan and vegetarian food.

 Sure, they love "kid" food too. But the trick is to keep offering and tweaking and offering again. Over time, something that seemed "weird" will become normal, and maybe even loved.

I also think it's best if you tell your children what they are eating.  Lentil burgers are never going to pass for meat. It's never going to be the same consistency or flavor. Instead you're taking a classic meal and offering a different version that is equally as tasty but healthier.

Vegan Lentil Burgers:

2/3 cup dried brown lentils
2 cups water

3/4 cup of large pearl couscous (you can substitute prepared rice or dry oats)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup water

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped finely
2 ribs of celery, chopped finely
2 green onions, chopped
1 small handful of parsley, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
4 heaping Tbsp. masa flour
Braggs Liquid Aminos or soysauce
olive oil

In a small pan, combine the lentils and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered until the lentils are soft and the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

 (A note here: I usually find I need to add more water at some point. If the water is gone, but the lentils are still hard, add more water)

At the same time, toast the couscous in 1 Tbsp olive oil until browned.

Add in the 1 cup of water, cover and simmer for 12 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.  Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, saute the onion, celery, carrot and spices in a large skillet until soft. This step also helps to release any moisture in the vegetables. Let cool.

Once everything is cool enough that you can handle it with, well, your hands, combine the cooked vegetables with the green onion and parsley, lentils and couscous. Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle your masa flour over the top of it, and give a few good shakes of Braggs  over everything.

Mash with your hands until everything resembles thick refried beans. Form patties with your hands. You should get about 8 of them.

Oil an large baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes on each side in a 375 degree oven. Serve with your favorite fixin's and enjoy!
 Kelly certainly did!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Broccoli and Brie Calzones

Much like my yoga practice, I have a core set of recipes that I keep coming back to again and again. For yoga, my go-to practice consists of standing poses, some inversions and forward bends.

For dinners, I tend to rotate around stir fry and soups. But  I've been in a major rut lately with dinners, making the same things over and over again and haven't had much inspiration lately. While it's not terrible to enjoy the tried-and true favorites, it does get a little un-exciting. Although I will never, ever get tired of eating this.

Which is why we had some leftover pizza fixin's this week and finally some inspiration hit! I used to make calzones all the time and how I've gone without making them for two whole years  is really beyond me.

Now don't be intimidated by making your own dough, it's really easy, I promise. This dough is hands-down the best recipe I've ever used for pizza or calzones. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

For the dough:

1 package dry yeast
1 cup water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sugar
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp salt

Mix the yeast and sugar with the water and let sit to "proof" for about 5 minutes, or until it's frothy. Then mix in the oil and salt, and gradually add in the flour, mixing until smooth. Knead the dough on a floured surface until stretchy and soft.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let sit in a warm place for about 40 minutes, or until doubled in size. Then punch down, and you're ready to go!

Pull off a round of dough about the size of a lemon, and roll out until very thin.  It should be about the size of a corn tortilla, and you will have enough dough to make 8 calzones.

For the filling:

1 cup of baby broccoli, chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
brie, sliced
salt and pepper

Saute the onion and broccoli until soft. Salt and pepper to taste.  Let cool enough to handle without burning yo'self.

Lay two brie slices on the dough round, and top with the filling .  Fold the dough over on top and crimp the edges with your hands or with a fork.

Place on an oiled cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Red Quinoa Salad with Feta and Cucumber.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a super-trendy, super-food. Almost as popular as kale. And rightfully so:

Did you know it's actually a seed , not a grain, and is more closely related to beets? Plus it's full of protein, calcium and fiber and is as easy to cook as any other grain.

As my kids head back to school today after their long winter vacation, I'm once again treated to the pleasure of tea with friends and lunches that consist of something other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It's nice to have this time to myself for a small portion of each day, to find a moment to practice, to cook and to clean, or simply take a 10 minute savasana.

(Serves 8)

1 cup red (or white) quinoa
2 cups water
1 English cucumber, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup of halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup of chopped kalamata olives
2 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 cup of crumbled feta

For the sauce:
scant 1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of red vinegar
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa and the water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and place in fridge for at least 20 minutes to cool.

Meanwhile, for the sauce, combine all of the ingredients and whisk together until well blended. Set aside.

Once your quinoa is cooled, combine the rest of the veggies and feta, stirring to combine. Toss with the sauce. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Grilled Brie and Tomato Sandwiches

What could make a food blogger not cook for, oh, about 2 months you ask? Well a 3 hour commute (each way) to San Francisco, not once but twice a week, for 7 weeks. (My work with UCSF has finally wrapped up and we're in the data-collection stage. Fingers crossed that we all continue to find out how amazing yoga is!)

 And just when I thought it was over, I was hit by 3 long weeks of illness.

Hi. I'm Candice and I've been living on god-knows-what while I crawl out of the deep dark pit that is influenza. But now that particular baddy has made its way through all five members of my family, we're all happy and healthy again, and I finally, finally,  got back in my kitchen.

For the kids, I dished up brie and apple grilled sandwiches, but for us, we got the good stuff. It's not particularly fancy, but like yoga, when you've been out of practice for a while, the simpler things are the best things.

You'll need:

I loaf of ciabatta bread, halved lengthwise
1 tomato, sliced
sliced double-cream brie
spicy mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Spray a cast-iron skillet with oil, and get it nice and hot. Then reduce heat to medium.

Meanwhile, assemble your sammies by spreading on the mustard, then topping with tomato, brie and spinach. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste. Grill on each side until the cheese is melty and enjoy with a nice fresh salad!