Yes Please to Cheese-less Mac & Cheese!

For the past couple months, I’ve been switching over to a dairy-free lifestyle. Which actually hasn’t been that hard of a transition. Well…except for one detail.

Guys, I love cheese.

And it’s not until I stopped eating cheese that I began realizing just how many recipes include the stuff. Craving some comfort food? Good luck sans the cheddar. In a Mexican mood? Not without that pepper jack. How about a Greek salad? Umm…don’t forget the feta.

Sure. I could simply omit cheese from these dishes, but where’s the pleasure in that? There’s gotta be another solution. At which point you’re probably thinking: Yeah, genius. It’s called vegan cheese. Touché. But I’m new at this dairy-free business!

Besides, I’m not about scouring Whole Foods for nutritional yeast. Or soaking cashews in water for three hours. Or you know…whatever.

The point is I’m lazy and need that cheese fix like yesterday.

Which is the inspiration behind my own formula: Minimum Patience + Maximum Desire = Liquid Gold Sauce in Under 5 Minutes.

vegan-cheese-sauce

In keeping with a minimalist theme, I opted for the pre-sliced variety. So, after comparing ingredients in multiple brands, Chao made the final cut. It’s tofu and coconut-based without any preservatives or GMOs. To sum up, I’m fangirling.

Yep. Over tofu and coconuts. I mean…we’ve all been there.

Something else I’m fangirling over: mac & cheese. And quinoa. Because I’m a wellness blogger. And. We. Eat. Quinoa. So, that combination is how Cheese-less Broccoli Quinoa Mac & Cheese became a thing.

And my taste buds lived happily ever after!

broccoli-quinoa-mac-and-cheese

Ingredients:

1/2 Broccoli Head (chopped into florets)

1 cup Dairy-Free Milk (Unsweetened)

2 Vegan Cheese Slices (of Preference)

1/2 cup Quinoa (Organic)

1 tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 tbsp. Spelt Flour*

1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

*spelt contains gluten, so if you need a GF alternative, check out these options.

quinoa-mac-and-cheese-ingredients

Preparation:

  1. Cook the quinoa on your stovetop, following the package instructions.
  2. Pre-heat a saucepan on another stovetop burner, bring to medium, then add the milkflourolive oilgarlic and sea salt.
  3. Stir until the consistency thickens, then add your preferred vegan cheese and stir again until melted.
  4. Pre-heat a smaller saucepan on yet another stovetop burner, pour in about 1 inch of water, bring to boil, then add the broccoli.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium, then cover your saucepan and steam the broccoli for 5 minutes.
  6. Combine the broccoli and quinoa, then pour the vegan cheese sauce on top, and stir to distribute the flavors evenly.

quinoa-mac-and-cheese-collage

Yeaaaaah. I know what you’re making for dinner tonight. Don’t even pretend otherwise. But like…it’s healthy mac & cheese. Why wouldn’t you make it for dinner tonight?

shrugging

Exactly. *drops wooden spoon*

Make Your Mornings Count With a Dash of Matcha Madness

So, guess I’ve been feeling the Eastern vibes lately. Between last week’s Korean Boribap recipe and this week’s love letter to all things matcha, I should probably just book a flight to Asia. Donate to my travel fund, and I’ll get right on that!

No takers? Shocking. Fine then…living vicariously through my taste buds isn’t the worst consolation prize. Lucky for this girl, my fiancé’s sister did go to Asia recently, and she brought me back some authentic ceremonial-grade Japanese matcha.

Talk about earning brownie points with the future sis-in-law. Give me pretentious sounding superfoods, and I’m your friend for life. Well played, Kristin…well played.

If you’re a matcha virgin, it’s literally just powdered green tea. Observe:

matcha powder

But what makes it so freaking fabulous? Check out these impressive stats:

  • Yields more antioxidants than any other superfood including goji berries, acai, kale and spinach.
  • Contains a powerful blend of essential nutrients like fiber, chlorophyll, zinc, magnesium, and Vitamin C.
  • Strengthens immune function, promotes anti-inflmmatory benefits and works like a natural detoxifier.
  • Boosts the metabolism to burn calories more efficiently, and regulates healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Reduces physical and mental stress, enhances concentration and balances fluctuating mood states.

Way to kick some nutritional ass, Matcha! And that’s why I jumpstart each morning with this little green powerhouse I’ve become *slightly* dependent on. Sure, you can drink it like the socially acceptable human you are. OR you can get creative, steal a chapter from my cookbook…

And breakfast will never be the same.

matcha for breakfast

MATCHA GINGER OATMEAL

Ingredients:

1 cup Cashew Milk (unsweetened)

1/2 cup Whole-Grain Oats

2 tsp. Matcha Powder

2 packets Stevia (organic)

1 tsp. Almond Butter (all-natural)

2–3 pinches Sesame Seeds

1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger

Preparation:

  1. Pour the Cashew Milk into a small saucepan and preheat the stovetop burner on a medium-high setting.
  2. Add the Oats and stir occasionally until the mixture begins to boil, then reduce to a simmer and continue stirring until the texture thickens.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the stove, add the Matcha, Ginger and Stevia, then stir to combine.
  4. Transfer the oatmeal into a serving bowl, then top with Almond Butter and Sesame Seeds for extra crunch. (NOTE: feel free to use whatever toppings you prefer…I just choose sesame seeds in keeping with our Asian theme!)

matcha oatmeal before pic

matcha oatmeal after pic

MATCHA BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

Ingredients:

1 cup Cashew Milk (unsweetened)

3/4 cup Spelt Flour (or, a GF alternative)

1/3 cup Fresh Blueberries

1/2 tbsp. Matcha Powder

2 packets Stevia (organic)

2 tsp. Almond Butter (all-natural)

Preparation:

  1. Pour the Cashew Milk and Spelt Flour into a mixing bowl, then stir vigorously until no lumps remain.
  2. Add the Blueberries, Matcha and Stevia into this batter, then stir again to combine.
  3. Preheat the stovetop burner on a medium-high setting, place a griddle on this burner and coat with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Ladle the batter in small batches onto the griddle, allow to cook about 2 minutes on each side, then transfer the pancakes to a serving plate once they’re done.
  5. Spread the Almond Butter over the pancake stack and garnish with leftover blueberries, if desired.

matcha pancakes before pic

matcha pancakes after pic

Reader Poll (just because I’m curious): Do you cook with matcha, or are you a purist who thinks tea is for drinking, thankyouverymuch?

So, What’s the Deal With that “Buddha Bowl” Bandwagon?

Lately, my entire Pinterest feed has turned into one continuous love letter to the gloriousness that is a Buddha Bowl. I’ve been hearing this term used more and more in wellness circles, but it’s taken me awhile to join the “Buddha Bowl Bandwagon.” Well, until last weekend anyway.

On a random Saturday night, the fiancé and I were embroiled in our usual debate: should we make dinner reservations, grab some take-out, or just raid the fridge? Laziness won out (’cause my spirit animal is a 65-year-old in threadbare sweats who calls “lights out” before 10pm), so we settled on Option #3. Then, inspiration struck—Hey…I’ll make one of those Buddha Bowl things!

So, through trial-and-error, I debunked the basic formula and concocted my own variation. And now that I’ve graduated from Buddha Bowl virgin to Buddha Bowl addict, I’m passing this formula along to you.

(WARNING: contents might cause obsession!)

how to make a buddha bowl

1.   Building Blocks—What Components Will You Need?

  • The Base: choose a whole grain like quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, wheatberry or farro.
  • The Greens: choose leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula, chard or watercress.
  • The Protein: choose a plant-based protein like chickpeas, almonds, beans, tempeh or tofu.
  • The Extras: choose veggies like sweet potato, broccoli, asparagus, carrots or avocado (okay…not a veggie, but still delish).
  • The Dressing: choose a sauce like the flavor bomb pictured above. Wanna make it? Then, stay tuned…

2.   Assembly Required—How Do You Put It All Together?

  • The First Layer: cook the whole grains according to their package instructions, then spread onto the bottom of your bowl.
  • The Second Layer: arrange a handful of leafy greens over the whole grain base.
  • The Third Layer: oven roast the protein source (or, leave raw if desired and safe to consume), then arrange over the leafy greens.
  • The Fourth Layer: steam the veggies until tender, then arrange over the leafy greens.
  • The Top Layer: drizzle the sauce to evenly coat the veggies. Oh, and here’s that recipe I hinted at earlier…blend together 1 red pepper,       1 garlic clove2 tbsp. lemon juice1 tbsp. olive oil1/2 tsp. paprika1/4 tsp. turmeric1/4 tsp. coriander and 1/4 tsp. cumin. Viola!
buddha bowl finished product

couldn’t resist posting ANOTHER shot of my finished product in all its glory

Alrighty. That’s the gameplan, people. So, welcome aboard that Buddha Bowl Bandwagon—where dinnertime dilemmas have met their match!

Quinoa & Edamame Burgers (a.k.a. Your Dinner Table’s Next Meatless Marvel)

Trivia Question: how does a self-proclaimed foodie, who really really loves veggie burgers, cope on Friday night when her boyfriend ditches her (but all is forgiven, Broski!) for some old-school Nintendo 64?

By creating a kickass recipe to satisfy said veggie burger cravings! Obvi.

I’m not vegan, but I do have a healthy appreciation for vegan cooking. So, that’s exactly what we have here — veggies, whole grains, and plant-based proteins.  Pure, nutritional deliciousness! And I can assure even the most committed carnivores out there that this burger hits the spot.

Nope. You won’t miss the meat.

Don’t believe me? Alrighty, then. Make it yourself. (I’ll just be over here, chanting: “told ya so!”)

  • Ingredients:
  1. 1/4 cup Quinoa (cooked)
  2. 1 tbsp. Mushrooms (diced)
  3. 2 tbsp. Roasted Red Peppers (diced)
  4. 2 tbsp. Edamame
  5. 2 tbsp. Rolled Oats
  6. 1 tbsp. Dijon Mustard

veggie burger ingredients

  • Preparation:
  1. Preheat a small saucepan on a medium-high stovetop setting, then cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  2. Preheat a small skillet on a low stovetop setting, then saute the mushrooms and roasted red peppers for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Puree the edamame in a blender or food processor until coarsely mashed, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Puree the mushrooms and red peppers in a blender or food processor until they reach the same consistency as the edamame, then transfer to the mixing bowl.
  5. Add the quinoa, rolled oats, and mustard into the mixing bowl, then stir until the ingredients combine to form a slightly “mushy” texture.
  6. Mold this mixture into patties (I made 1 large patty, but you could just as easily make 2-3 small patties), then transfer them to another skillet and turn the stovetop setting to medium.
  7. Cook the burgers for approximately 5 minutes on each side, then remove from heat and allow them to cool slightly before serving.

veggie burger before

  • Serving Suggestion:

Play off the Asian-inspired flavor of the edamame by wrapping your veggie burger in a Nori sheet (dried seaweed) instead of a traditional bun. Not only will the crisp saltiness please your palate, but it’s also a much healthier swap-out.

In fact, while we’re at it, why not continue this plant-based theme we’ve got going and substitute cheese for cashew cream? It’s a snap to whip up and makes a tasty topper for our veggie burger.

Simply soak 2 tbsp. raw cashews in 1/4 cup water for 1-2 hours (feel free to skip this step if you’re pressed for time), then drain and toss the cashews into a blender, along with 1 garlic clove, 3 tbsp. lemon juice, and a pinch of sea salt. Puree these ingredients until smooth, then spread the cream on your patty.

veggie burger after

 Aaaaaaand….Dinner is served!