Smiling Coconut & Chickpea Soup!

My friend Nancy is my Mama Bear.  I love her and her awesomeness!  We occasionally swap recipes, and this is a little spin-off of my favorite Nancy-recipe.  I “veganized” it and it’s SO super simple, it’s my new post-rehearsal-late-at-night-and-too-dead-to-prepare-anything staple!  Love it!  Thanks, Nancy!  Here’s my rendition… I call it “Smiling Coconut & Chickpea Soup”!  Obaaaa!  \o/

smiling chickpea and coconut soup

*It is soo much better with green onions as a garnish, but the last time I made it I wanted a picture and only had fresh parsley, so the photo is slightly different than how I usually prepare it.

Miss T’s Smiling Coconut & Chickpea Soup!

  • 1c veg broth
  • 1 16oz cans chickpeas, drained
  • 1 14oz can coconut milk
  • 1/2c prepared salsa
  • 1 1/2tsp garam masala
  • 1tsp ground ginger
  • 2Tbsp apple juice
  • 1/4c packed cilantro leaves
  • green onions, chopped
  • pita chips, crumbled

This is equally delicious as it is ridiculously easy… It’s so easy, it’s faux-cooking!  (below)

  1. Simply blend everything (except green onions and pita chips) in a food processor until smooth and creamy.
  2. Transfer over to a medium-sized pot/saucepan and heat through, stirring regularly.
  3. Top with green onions, extra salsa and lots of pita chips (I can’t eat this without pita chip crumbles!).
  4. Smile & Enjoy! 🙂
 

Going Raw…

raw vegan zucchini lasagna

*Raw Vegan Zucchini Lasagna from UNO cookbook: http://unocookbook.tumblr.com/

So, I’ve been flirting with the raw diet for a long time.  But the thing is I LOVE cooking over a warm fire and the almost-alchemical magic it raises within me (any happy tummy who is in my inner circle of happy souls or has dated me for any period of time knows that more than anyone and can totally vouch for me! haha).  I just love cooking, dammit!  <–It’s always bothered me that “damn it” is spelled that way… does that bother you?

Anyway…

I just love cooking… I love the meditative quality of stirring, the sweet-smelling patience of putting loving intentions into the creation, the overwhelming gratitude to Gaia when I sit down to eat, the complete joy of sharing food with those I love… I just LOVE it!  I love it enough to not mind washing dishes (which is a drag when I’m single because I’ve been fortunate enough to always date men who switch with me in both cooking and cleaning, so I never had to do both in one night).

Hell, I love cooking so much, I have an irrational ridiculous fear of going raw… BECAUSE! I know myself, and I know myself well.

I used to be a cheese fiend.  I mean fiend.  Gross cheesy fiend!  But once I went vegan, that was the end of my life with dairy forever.  I know how good I feel eating raw.  And, just like being vegan, noticing how instantly AMAZING I feel switching over… I fear taking the plunge and never looking back.  Spiritually speaking, going raw is the best way for me to stay a clear channel and keep my holistic body in balance…

BUT!  I love cooking!  Not to say that there is no preparation involved with raw food, but it’s just not the same… And there’s something very magical about the traditional cooking process, blending in the ingredients and chemically altering them (through melting, sauteing, etc) to make something deliciously new!  I am not ready to give that up.  I have this little recipe book I’ve filled full of recipes that are so wonderfully delightful (yes there are a few raw recipes in there, but only incidentally), I just can’t give that up.

I know, I don’t have to give up cooking, but like I said, I know myself.  Once I go raw vegan and stick to it for a week, it will be tough for me to want to go back.  I think I’m having a serious yet goofy inner conflict about all of this.  I of course will be eating vegan foods that aren’t raw in other places and at other people’s houses, but I suppose the fear is becoming a food snob (with myself) lol.  Life without french fries?!  C’mon!

Now that we’re at a point in our human evolution where many of us are experiencing what New Agers call (it is named many other things by other forms of spirituality) the Ascension process and light workers are being called now (more than ever) to “kick it up a notch” not-so-Emeril style, I feel raw is really my highest gastronomic calling right now.

Am I taking the plunge?  Probably.  Is my mind all ready made up?  Pretty much.  Is this inner-conflict quite silly? Yep.  But I do love cooking… Like the traditional way.  Vamos a ver!  I am excited about this new raw adventure!  I just hope the cooking doesn’t completely leave me for good – it binds me to my ancestors, to my paternal grandmother (Teodora Santarin Sarreal), to the magical intentions brewed every day in my kitchen!  Vamos a ver…

Here is my first plan (the photography is so awesome, it’s food porn, I swear!) –> http://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/2014/01/raw-vegan-tiramisu-with-vanilla-cream.html#.UvknfPuRSAZ

Secret-life-plants-cover

*On a side note, I’m still reading The Secret Life of Plants (yes, that famous book from the 70’s!) and I’m completely floored and fascinated by it all!  It’s a must read for vegans and omnivores alike!  You’ll never look at your garden the same way again… and it eased my kind food heart: knowing how death occurs in plants before they are cut down makes me feel happy to know exactly what intention is needed for optimal compassion and gratitude.  I think there is a full length film with Stevie Wonder as the composer??  Something to look into.  Either way, it’s changed my life with my plants.  I already communicate with my plants, but it’s such a comfort and joy to learn the mechanics of it! 😀  Yay to plants!

EAT FORWARD with Me on 2/22!!!

afa cropveggiegrill logo catalyst_network_logo_500px

Artists for Action (my dream project) is having an AWESOME fundraiser at Veggie Grill and I hope you all can make it!!!  Simply eat dinner between 5pm and closing, mention you are supporting Artists for Action and BOOM! You just ate forward with us!  Please visit our website: http://www.artistsforaction.org (front page) for full details and a downloadable flyer.  Please spread the word!  Much love and gratitude always!  xoxo

Artists for Action is a series of FREE public events promoting social, political, environmental and cultural awareness through multimedia visual and performance art.  This series includes an annual “Evening of Artivists” (artist-activists) who use their artistry to illuminate the most silent and pressing issues directly affecting the communities we serve and inspire action for a better world. 

Mmmm… I want to make this!

I have never been this excited about food before!  I think it’s because I’ve been waiting for the plumber to come by and fix my sink (and prior to that, being a “fill in the blank,” I was silly enough to think I could fix the sink myself without bothering my landlord).  Needless to say, I haven’t cooked a real meal in a loooong time.  Long for me means more than two weeks.  I miss my therapeutic stirring and satisfying completion!  I could have used other words, but it’s late at night and when I start talking/writing about food, it always ends up sounding a tad pornographic =/  Sooo NOT what I’m going for here!

Anyway, I’ve been receiving recipes everywhere (like the Universe is being humorous and teasing me for my half-month of eating crappy take-out, fast food, meal “replacements” and instant banal foods in the nuker).  Nancy, one of my favorite people on the planet (and Bella’s nina), gave me a recipe for an awesome vegan chickpea soup with coconut milk, cilantro and garam masala… Mmm!  And not long after my phone gave me the latest “Meatless Monday” recipe (from the Humane Society).  I’m meatless everyday, and it isn’t often their recipes make me go “Wow… I have to try this!”  But of course, during this prolonged drought in my kitchen sink, they send me something that makes me salivate!

I haven’t ever posted a recipe on here that I haven’t made, but it’s somehow comforting to talk about the yummy vegan delights until I can actual start cooking them again.  Here’s the recipe from HSUS – it looks FABULOUS!

Meatless Mondays Recipes

Black-Eyed Peas with Butternut Squash

Serves 6

2 cups dried black-eyed peas (or 1 can black-eyed peas, drained)
3 tablespoons olive or canola oil
1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 fresh hot green chili, chopped
4 tablespoons tomato purée
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 pound (2 1/2 cups) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces

If using dried peas, soak the black-eyed peas overnight in water that covers them well. Drain, add the peas along with fresh water to a pot, and cook the peas while preparing the other ingredients, about forty minutes.

Pour the oil into a heavy, largish pan and set over medium-high heat. When hot, put in the cumin and fennel seeds. Let them sizzle for 10 seconds and then add the onions. Stir and fry until the onion pieces turn brown at the edges.

Add the garlic, ginger, and green chili. Stir for a minute. Add the tomato purée. Stir for a minute.

Now add the drained, cooked peas (or drained, canned peas), salt, cayenne, squash, and 2 cups of water to the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover partially, then turn the heat down to low and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the peas are tender and the water is absorbed.

Recipe adapted from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey.

*Original HSUS URL for this recipe:  http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/eating/recipes/entrees/black-eyed-peas-butternut.html?credit=mb_mm_012414

Nutrition

All figures are per serving (assumes 6 servings).

Calories: 294
Fat: 7 g
Carbs: 44 g
Fiber: 7 g
Protein: 14 g
Sodium: 596 mg

STAR OF SIAM: Vegan Spicy Coconut Milk Soup

Star of Siam logo

Mmmmmm…. Heaven is definitely a state of mind!

Last night, being SO done with Thanksgiving leftovers (not to dock Thanksgiving, it was such a lovely and beautiful evening – thanks, Rachel!), I was craving some spice and some heat.  All that sweet, that carb, that dessert in me… I just needed some spice, some warmth, a good kick!

I knew I wanted some spicy soup… so I started rummaging through my “menu cubby” and went through all the take-out places I’ve collected menus from on cold, rainy, cozy days like these.  I’ve never been to the Star of Siam, but I kept the menu they left on my door with a rubberband, which I appreciated because they don’t get stuck in my screen door like the other eternal advertisements that stay trapped there.  I would have scrapped the advertisement if they did the rude Domino’s thing and let it slide down into the door – never to be seen again.  Domino’s jerks!  But where was I?

Anyway, I start reading the menu and was happily surprised to see an extensive vegetarian section!  Woohoo!  I went to town… I called and asked about everything.  I was hungry, delirious and I had a mad craving for something good, spicy and Thai.  I sincerely believe Thailand has the best food in the world.  Just like I believe Brazilians have the best music in the world (and potentially the best-looking men, but that’s another conversation).  It’s just how it is.  They were very sweet on the phone and allowed me to ask about the vegan options and patiently break down the ingredients list for me (they would use water instead of chicken broth, etc).

I ordered a small spicy coconut milk soup, that came with mushrooms and an assortment of veggies, with a small order of rice on the side.  Thanks to my ex-boyfriend, I rarely can eat a whole bowl of soup without a side of rice to go with and into it.  Haha, like a good Nicaraguan, that’s how I role now – even though I am anything but Nicaraguan and the best thing I’ve ever done for myself was get rid of that energy vampire.  I love the people and I love the food (I lived just south of them for awhile: Costa Rica.  A different world, but I digress..).  My ex was somewhat of an anomaly; I love everything else about Nicaragua except for him lol.  So yes, I’m grateful to have my rice swimming in soup and to be doing my thing without his… shortcomings (and what he had accurately labeled as “foolishness”)…holding me back.  Oh, it’s so good to be free from that!  Life is good and life is love ❤

Back to the soup!  I was happy to drive over and pick up my soup (which was warm and ready once I got there – no waiting).  The awesome owners (who have been running Star of Siam for 25 years and were voted best Thai in LB by the Press Telegram) went through my order with me and were so sweet.  I loved them instantly.  I didn’t have cash, and so I needed to pay a little extra to use my card with the $10 minimum (I was surprised my order was so cheap for a hearty-sized “small” order of soup).  I ordered some Thai Iced Tea, without the milk in it, paid and drove it home.

I got home and oh, man…

I was not expecting to be so disarmed by the pleasant and delicious aroma and taste!  It was like being back in Thailand but – I dare say – better (yes, I said it!).   Ahhh…. taste bud climaxes and longing for more!  I couldn’t finish the small, it was just too much food for dinner, but I cannot describe what an amazing discovery that soup was!  It’s officially my favorite soup – ever.  Hands down.  I’m an instant convert.  Oh, just give me a blissful experience like that and there goes all my loyalty I once had to my mama’s old holiday pecan pie cookies (peace out!).

That soup was so damn good, it sent me on a long internet search for other vegan versions of it.  But it’s so good, so affordable, so filling and so convenient (just two miles from my home here in Belmont Shore), why would I want to make it on my own?  OK, because I’m crazy and I just want to know how to cook everything hehe.  I can’t believe this restaurant is so close to me (and just a couple businesses away from where I pick up copies of RLN on a regular basis) and I’ve never been there!

All I can say is: Thanks Thai Food Flyer Guy!!!  Whoever and wherever you are!  I love you!!! xoxo  I vow to never be annoyed by those little restaurant flyers people leave on my door (as long as they don’t inspire me to irate four-letter words when they drop them into irretrievable “no man’s land” in the screen door – please be considerate).

I can’t remember the last time I’ve been that ecstatically satisfied with a new dish.  Mmmmmm.  I start daydreaming just thinking about it, and I’m not even hungry!  Seriously, I just don’t understand how it was so good.  If someone were to tell me “You know what?  You’re addicted to that shit because they put heroine, MSG and anti-freeze in it!”  I’d probably still go and order it again and again… it’d still be vegan, wouldn’t it?

The Thai iced tea (my favorite tea in the world – end of story) that I took home to put in some almond milk just finished me off then knocked me out.  Food coma.  Smiling, warm, content food coma…. Ahhhh…. Great stuff!  And I wasn’t a gross-full.  I was a happy-full.  It was that good full feeling, like I had an awesome meal, but not suffering for it.  There’s no such thing as bad sex (it’s kinda like pizza… it’s still pizza at the end of the day and therefore good stuff), but I will say I prefer this soup to the last guy I screwed.  Not the men preceding him, but this soup was definitely better than that last guy I had.

Sorry, TMI… moving along!

Why is Thai food and Thai tea so good?????  I just don’t understand.  It’s so good here I am on my blog rambling about how awesome it is.  Geez!  Last night was one of the best (mmmm) and simple meals of my life (no cooking, no dishes, no bells or whistles… just plain good stuff!).  Why does Thai food do me that way it does?  I don’t know and I don’t care.  It’s just good; that’s all there is to it.

Star of Siam is the shit! =D    (in a good way, of course).  So thankful I didn’t have Thanksgiving leftovers.  Complete gratitude.  Mmmmmmm….. coconut soup….. mmmmmm vegan happiness hehehehehe

A Simple Ayurvedic Fix for the Chilly Season (and it’s bummers!)

Yes, it’s true… our friends, neighbors, co-workers and clients (our whole community!) are starting to hack and wheeze when our backs our turned.  In a few weeks there will be more of it, just not so discreet once it goes around 😉  Those of us who work with kids have already started to stock up on Airborne, Emergen-C and the like…

But you know me… As I always say, “Why use dynamite when you just need a broom?”  Herein lies one of the main reasons I generally (yes, generally) do not subscribe to Western medicine.  I don’t believe in prescribing toxic and unnatural pharmaceuticals to “cure” (ridding ourselves of the symptoms) when we can holistically “heal” (through treating the root cause of the ailment).  Sorry, did my Tehani-Reiki-jargon just slip in there and take over again?  ;p

I do not use pharmaceuticals (I always have stinging nettle tea and grapefruit seed extract on stock, and I declare a state of emergency when I run out), but I used the word “generally” up there (regarding my reluctance to Western means) because I was hospitalized three years ago and I do understand that emergency medicine has it’s place.  When a bone has to be set, when urgent surgeries are in order (in other words, when someone needs the dynamite)… I’m all for it.  “Drastic times call for drastic measures” is a cliche for a reason.  That said, the majority of (if not all) things that land us in the ER are completely preventable; and the prevention is always safe, natural and muuuuch less costly (on all spheres).

Here is a wonderful and simple cold/flu remedy posted by my beautiful friend, Siva and her son.  She is amazing.  This woman is an Ayurvedic doctor (and mommy) here in Long Beach, CA and I love all the lightwork she does for the community!  Please check her out at: http://www.svasthahealth.com/   🙂

Simple, easy and just adorable… Enjoy!

MMMMoroccan Couscous with Saffron!

moroccan couscous with saffron

*photo taken from thekindlife.com

I promised myself that I would never be so lazy as to copy-paste information on this blog and call it a post… I guess that just went out the window!  Lol.  I made this for dinner, and the recipe was soooo yummy, I just had to copy-paste and let it be.  Rules were meant to be broken (if not bent once in awhile) – it keeps life interesting and we gotta live, right?  Never a dull moment 😉  And when life is dull, it’s truly a flaw in our perspectives.  Life is fascinating and beautiful… breathe it in!  And in this case, eat it!  hahahaha.

Oh, and before I forget… Do know ahead of time that saffron is “the most expensive spice on earth” – literally!  So make sure you shop around before you spend 30 bucks on a small little bottle.  I bought mine at Lazy Acres for about $12 – it was a tiny packet, of course, but a little goes a long way!  OK, finally, here’s the recipe from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone.  I love the work she does for the planet and encourage everyone to visit http://www.thekindlife.com   Great resource for the green and vegan mamas out there, too!    Enjoy!

[unedited, straight from The Kind Diet, (below)]

Moroccan Couscous With Saffron

Serves 6 Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled butternut squash, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 cubes
  • 2 cups yellow onion, large dice
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini, cut into 3/4 cubes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place the squash, onion, carrots and zucchini on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, turning once with a spatula about midway through.
  4. While the vegetables roast, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a saucepan.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the butter, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cumin, saffron and salt to taste.
  6. Cover the pan and steep for 15 minutes.
  7. Scrape the roasted vegetables and their juices into a large bowl, and add the couscous.
  8. Bring the vegetable broth back to a boil, and pour over the couscous mixture all at once.
  9. Cover tightly with a plate and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
  10. Add the scallions, toss the couscous and vegetables with a fork, and serve.

YUMMY!