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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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.

 

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%