Lychee Berry Chia Jam (It’s Vegan!)

Recently, I decided to go vegan. Not for any moral or ethical reason, but that’s a nice bonus. I can’t really process meat well, dairy makes my skin break out, so really all I’m giving up is eggs, which I’m not too fond of anyways, so…no big life changes here. But I did start a new Instagram, because I figure I’m more likely to make healthy dishes if I can take pretty pictures for the internet, and I didn’t want to spam everyone on my personal Instagram a million times a day with pictures of food. The new, vegan food based Instagram is here. I’ll post recipes on this blog every so often, but a lot of things are really simple (because it’s summer in Texas and I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen) so they don’t need recipes.

Also, I’m not a real big fan of jams or jellies in general, because I feel they’re way too sweet, so being able to control the sweetness for this one was a big help, and I like it a lot.

berries.jpg
Look at all those fresh berries. I used strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but really you can use any fruit you like, the recipe is really flexible. 

Lychee Berry Chia Jam

350g strawberries, quartered.

100 g blackberries, cut in half

150g raspberries

1/4 cup lychee juice/nectar 

4 tbsp chia seeds, divided

3 tbsp light agave nectar

First things first I took 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and put them in the lychee juice to soak. Save the remaining tablespoon for the end, you may or may not need it.

Next, chop up your berries. You’ll be smashing them later, but chop them roughly how big you want them to end up. I found that chopping the strawberries and the blackberries at least was best, the raspberries smashed easily without being chopped. Put your berries in a medium saucepan and heat them, on low to medium heat. They’ll release their juice and cook down. After they get soft, turn the heat as low as you can, take a potato masher or fork, and mash them to however chunky you want them.

Your chia seeds should have absorbed all of the juice by now, so add that to the saucepan and mix well. The chia thickens the jam so you don’t have to use pectin.

Add the agave nectar, and taste (blow on the spoon, this is hot), adding more if you prefer your jam sweet.

Turn off the heat, and if you feel you have too much liquid, add the remaining chia seeds, and stir so they absorb it.

Let the jam come to room temperature before you put it in a jar, it’ll set some more, and then put it in the fridge.

One serving is about two tablespoons, and this recipe makes sixteen servings. Each two tablespoon serving has 44 calories, 0.9g fat, 8.4g carbs, and 1.1g protein.

jam
This is my jam. 

I like having it on crackers, and it’s especially good with chocolate hazelnut butter.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com, or now at my new vegan food based instagram, PickyEatersInternational.

 

 

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Honey Lemonade

Guys, I’m sick. I had to call of work today and yesterday because I nanny and don’t want to get the little ones sick (even though they got me sick) because it’ll be a never ending cycle of bouncing germs back and forth because the baby likes putting his forehead against mine and staring at me cross eyed.

Honey lemonade is one of my favorite drinks when I’m sick, because the lemon helps if I’m feeling nauseated, and since there’s honey instead of granulated sugar, it’s easier on my throat. And it tastes fantastic when it’s hot.

honey lemonade

All you need:

Water

Honey (1 tablespoon per two cups of water)

Lemon (I used one and a half, for one medium saucepan of water)

Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat to low, to keep the water hot but not boiling. Add the honey, stirring so it integrates. Then add the lemon juice. You can play with the amounts until you’re happy with the taste.

You can serve it hot, which I like, or iced. It stores well in the fridge, you just have to shake it a little before you pour.

Sorry I haven’t been posting regularly, I’ve been sick and off my game. As always, find me on Twitter or Instagram, and by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Spinach and Leek Hummus

I know, I know, two recipes in a row. Bear with me, I’ve been working more than usual. This one is quick and easy, I promise.

When I was a junior in high school, my Arabic teacher took us to the school kitchen and taught us how to make hummus. I remember thinking it was remarkably easy, and she mentioned how you could add basically anything to the base recipe. And since spinach is so versatile, and I add it to pretty much everything, today I decided to add it to hummus. And it was fantastic.

Green hummus

Don’t let the bright green color fool you, you can hardly taste the spinach. And the recipe is so simple.

You need:

1 can (14oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

30g leeks, chopped

80g fresh spinach

5g (3 cloves) garlic, roughly chopped

2 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp olive oil

First, heat the olive oil and lightly roast the leeks and the garlic. What I like to do is let the oil heat completely, and then toss in the garlic and leeks, immediately turning off the heat. Everything will sizzle nicely while you do the rest, which means you don’t have to actively watch it.

While that’s happening, put the chickpeas and tahini in the blender, and pulse it until it’s mostly pureed. You might need to add water, do so a tablespoon at a time until it’s the consistency of peanut butter.

At this point, take the leeks and garlic off the stove and put it in the blender, getting as much of the olive oil into the blender as well. Blend it up.

When that’s all smooth, slowly at the spinach until it’s all incorporated. You can add some salt at this point too, I needed about a teaspoon. I also added a touch of paprika. Chili powder would have been ideal, but I didn’t have any.

Once everything is blended and there are no chunks, you’re good to go. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, on toast, whatever floats your boat.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, and by email at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Kale Chips are Wonderful

Here’s something fun: my mother’s last name is Kale, like the vegetable, so whenever I cook something with kale in it, I make the most ridiculous cannibalism jokes. She pretends she doesn’t enjoy them, but she laughs.

Today I realized I had a whole bunch of kale in my fridge, which was going to be for kale and quinoa salad but I still have some left from the last time I made it. So instead, I decided to make kale chips. And after a quick search on Google, I realized it was easy.

kale chips

Literally all you need is a bunch of kale, some olive oil, and some salt. You tear the kale into vaguely chip sized chunks, toss them in a little bit of olive oil, spread them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake them for about half an hour at 275F. Then you sprinkle them with salt to taste. You can add other flavors too, but for the first try I stuck with just salt. I did need to prop the oven open with a wooden spoon for the first ten minutes, that seemed to help them dry out so they turned out crispier.

As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, or by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

 

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Kale is a funny little vegetable. For the last decade or so, it was primarily used as a decoration for salad bars, providing a pretty green backdrop for its friends spinach and romaine, and the ever popular iceberg lettuce. And then someone decided to eat it. Kale has a bad rap with people who like bashing on healthy food. And sure, it’s tough, and fibrous, and makes you gassy if you eat too much, but come on, it’s good for you. Right?

Kale.jpg

Kale is having a serious moment though. Kale chips make up like half the aisle at Sprouts, and it’s move beyond just salad bar decorations and into the salad itself. But it’s nasty and gross raw. Sorry, kale. It’s true. It feels like eating plastic.

So you have to cook it. Cooking kale makes everything better. It’s suddenly tender, and delicious, and you can add quinoa and strawberries and homemade garlicky dressing and it turns into something like this:

Kale and Quinoa Salad

Which looks a lot more palatable than the sad salad bar trim it used to be.

This salad is easy. There’s a lot of waiting around for things to boil and season and whatnot.

You need:

2 teaspoons salt

300g kale, raw

2/3 cup quinoa, uncooked

250 g strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic

First, bring a large-ish pot of salted water to a boil. While that’s heating up, remove the leafy bits of the kale from the stalk and tear them into reasonably bite sized pieces. Wash them, and once the water boils, turn off the heat and put the kale in, leaving it for about ten minutes.

While the kale is cooking, wash the quinoa. The reason a lot of people think quinoa leaves a bitter aftertaste is because of a natural coating on the grains, called saponin, which tastes like soap and is a defense mechanism the plant uses against little animals. So you have to rinse it a few times, draining and re-rinsing, until the water stops looking sudsy. Put that on to cook until the water (should use 1.5 times as much water as quinoa, so in this case, one cup) is mostly evaporated and the quinoa is cooked.

At this point, the kale leaves should be bright green, like something Robin Hood would enjoy wearing. Drain them, and let them sit in the strainer to cool.

Chop up the strawberries if you haven’t done so already. You could replace them with dried cranberries, but fresh strawberries have less sugar.

Take the olive oil and heat it in a little saucepan. Once it’s almost boiling, turn off the heat. While it’s cooling a little, chop up the garlic as fine as you can get it, and then carefully put it in the oil. It’ll bubble and sizzle, but should not be frying. Once that settles down, you’re good to go.

Mix everything up in a big bowl, coating the garlic olive oil over everything. Heating and cooling the oil makes a difference in how it tastes, I promise. I’m not crazy.

  • Makes four servings. Each serving has:
  • 218 calories
  • 14.9g fat
  • 31.5mg sodium
  • 430.4mg potassium
  • 18.5 carbohyrates
  • 4.4g fiber
  • 5.1g sugar
  • 5.1g protein
  • 149.9% DV* Vitamin A
  • 219.2% DV* Vitamin C
  • 13% DV* Calcium
  • 10.2% DV* Iron
  • *Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet. 

 

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

This is the most delicious thing I’ve ever made. I know I say that a lot, but this is really good. It’s broccoli. With garlic.

roasted broccoli

And it’s one of those super quick twenty minute recipes you can put together at the last second when you want a side dish, but let’s be real, I just eat it as a meal.

You need:

1 head of broccoli, chopped into bite sized florets

3 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 pinch salt

1 pinch black pepper

4 tsp grated Parmesan (optional)

The first thing you should do is put the garlic in the olive oil and let it sit. Also preheat your oven to 400F, with one rack about five inches from the top heating element. Once you’ve got the broccoli chopped up, toss it with the garlic and olive oil, making sure it’s evenly coated. Spread it on a foil-lined baking sheet, and slide it into the oven for about fifteen to twenty minutes, until the edges of the broccoli are nicely browned. Pull it out and toss it with the Parmesan.

Isn’t it great?

Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. Lots of things happening, not all of them fun. You can always reach me on Twitter, Instagram, another Instagram, or email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

 

Tuna Sandwiches Are Not Just For Tigers

(Yes, tigers. Like Hobbes from Calvin and Hobbes, who loved tuna sandwiches. I’m not crazy.)

I made the best tuna sandwich today. I mean, look at it.

tuna sandwich

I like tuna because it’s pretty high protein while still being low fat, and the taste isn’t super overwhelming. I really love tuna salad with pomegranate in it. I know some people put in walnuts and dried cranberries, but trust me, pomegranate is so much better. The seeds are sweet and tart, and just a little crunchy. And it doesn’t make the texture all weird like cranberries and walnuts do. I also chop my celery pretty small, so there’s no chunks, and add a pinch of paprika for a little kick. And most importantly, I toast the bread on a pan on the stove so it can hold up better than toast from the toaster.

It’s good, I promise. Go try it.

Also, as you may or may not have noticed, my posts have slowed down considerably. Now, if I were the sort of adult who planned things out, I wouldn’t be having this issue. But it’s the nearing end of my semester, Desiree’s wedding is coming up in a week (holy shit, Des.) and I’m running around like a panicky chicken. So bear with me, I do have some posts planned out that I need to write up, and after the first week of December everything should be back to normal. In the meantime, you can follow my Instagram, which I post to semi-regularly. And if you want to write a guest post or two for me, email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Enjoy your sandwiches!

Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Growing up, every fall my mom would make butternut squash soup, because it was an easy thing to make on a weekend, and it could be frozen and reheated throughout the week. It was a fall staple, cold weather meant butternut squash soup.

butternut squash soup

But now I live in Texas and the weather is never really cold. But since I really wanted butternut squash soup, I had to turn down the AC and pretend I lived somewhere with more than one and a half seasons. This is a super easy recipe, and I used my slow cooker for it, but it could also be done on the stove.

You need:

1 medium butternut squash

2 cups veggie stock

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried/ground sage

1 medium white onion, roughly diced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

1/2 cup coconut milk

butternut squash ingredients

Note: You can substitute chicken or other stock for veggie stock and heavy cream for coconut milk if you don’t want to make it vegan.

The hard part of this recipe is cubing the butternut squash. But, you can make it a lot easier by cutting it into quarters, and once you’ve removed the seeds and guts, roast it at 400F for about 20 minutes. Let it cool and chop it up. It should be soft, but not cooked through.

Here’s the easy part:

All you have to do is throw everything except the coconut milk into the slow cooker for about five or six hours, on high. Then when the squash mushes easily and the onions are somewhat clear, grab a stick blender and blend everything up, and then add the coconut milk, blending until it’s all nice and creamy. I garnished mine with black pepper and scallions, but you can use whatever suits you.

Also for anyone concerned and keeping track, here’s the basic nutritional info, based on one serving being 1 cup of soup.

  • Calories: 103
  • Fat: 3.8g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg
  • Sodium: 8mg (varies based on how much salt you add)
  • Potassium: 557.6mg
  • Carbs: 18.7g
  • Fiber: 3.2g
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Protein: 1.7g
  • Vitamin A: 297%

Zucchini is a Perfectly Acceptable Pizza Topping

What’s the distinction between a flatbread and a pizza? Are they just the same thing from two cultures? Does one have sauce and the other doesn’t? Genuine question here. Answer in the comments.

So I had all this zucchini in my fridge because Desiree and Larissa came to visit and we got ambitious and thought we’d grill it sometime during OU/tx (I’m still salty about that game). I also had a bunch of gluten free pizza crusts that I got from Sprouts, so I figure I might as well use those too.

The problem with zucchini is that it is very watery. And whenever I would cook it, it would make everything miserably soggy. After some googling, I figured out that salting the zucchini for a few minutes would draw out the water. So I chopped it up into teeny julienne strips, you can chop yours however you want but I don’t recommend slices, because after it’s been sitting in the salt for a bit, you need to grab it and just squeeze all the water out. I was surprised at not only how much water came out of the zucchini, but also at how well it stood up to being manhandled. I guess I was expecting it to just turn to mush like cucumber, but turns out, zucchini is a tough lil veggie.

In addition to zucchini, I also used some freshly diced tomatoes, chopped mushrooms, minced garlic, and a little it of butter, and topped it all with a sprinkle of cheese. I omitted tomato sauce because I didn’t want to drown out the zucchini, and I was worried about it getting soggy.

flatbread ingredients

My pizza crust came prebaked, and I could have just piled everything on top, but since I wanted a crisper crust I stuck it in the oven for about as long as it took my oven to preheat to 425F, and the spread the butter on it, with the garlic directly on top. Then I layered it, tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini, and baked it for about ten minutes so the veggies could cook. Then I pulled it out and sprinkled the cheese on top, sticking it back in the oven for three minutes, just until the cheese was melted.

zucchini flatbread

And guys, it is so good. The salt makes the zucchini not bland, and the crispy crust balances out the texture really well. Without tomato sauce it doesn’t feel super heavy, and not piling on a lot of cheese helps with that too. I’m really pleased with how this came out, and I’m excited to try new things with all the rest of the zucchini in my fridge.

Gluten Free Banana Bread

gf banana bread

Banana bread is great. Gluten free baked goods, however, can be hit or miss. So with every banana bread recipe I’ve found, I’ve had to tweak the proportions of gluten free baking mix and whatnot to fix it. Finally I cobbled together a decent recipe:

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas (Not overly brown and mushy. Just that spotty yellow that they’re squishy but not falling apart.)

1/3 cup melted butter (unsalted, preferably, but if you’re using salted just omit the salt later)

3/4 cup sugar (this can be adjusted to 1 cup or 1/2 cup depending on how sweet you like things)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt (omit this if you’re using salted butter)

1 3/4 cup gluten free baking mix (this varies based on the brand, I use Bob’s Red Mill)

Your oven should be at 350F, which is about 176C.

  1. Mush the bananas until smooth. Slowly add in the melted butter, and when it’s all the way combined, add the egg. If you ad the egg too soon after you add butter, the hot butter will cook the egg and that’s gross.
  2. Add the sugar, salt (if you’re using it), and baking soda. Mix it all up thoroughly.
  3. Slowly add the flour until it’s smooth, thick, and creamy consistency. It should be thicker than cake batter, but not dough. It should be like molten lava when you let it fall of the spoon.
  4. Put it in a greased loaf pan, and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour and ten minutes. After 50 minutes you should check for doneness, just stick a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean you’re all set.

Let it cool, and cut with a serrated knife to prevent crumbling.