Food Talk Wednesday #4

A little birdy told me it had been a while since I last talked about food on here. It also told me that I risked losing my label as a foodie. So what’s a girl to do? Better safe than sorry so how about we talk about … .food today?  It’s common knowledge among bloggers that writing an intro is the hardest part of a post so how about we get started right away? Thanks again to Jenn for hosting What I ate Wednesday!

Food Talk Wednesay_logo

Usually I’d keep the best for last but because breakfast yesterday was [one of] my favourite food[s] in the world I’ll spill the beans right away: it’s kabocha season! Granted, not actually. But our garden has allowed me to have a first taste of autumn’s best produce while stores aren’t carrying squash regularly yet. I know some of you are lucky to have kabocha available all year round but for me it’s a few months only. A few long-awaited months. Or this year sadly just weeks because stores around here won’t carry this very kind of squash at all so I’m limited to the ~ seven kabocha babies in the yard.

Anyway, I figure I’d go best by living in the moment and enjoying kabocha to the fullest while I can. No problem because it tates so.incredibly.amazing.

kabocha_pot

Sometimes, the best dishes grace your plate when you improvise [or can’t follow your own recipes]. Case in point: the zucchini overload in our garden and lack of cauliflower combined led to me turning my Cauliflower Chickpea Curry into a, well, Zucchini Curry.  With kidney beans because I had an open can of those. So yes, totally overthrowing my recipe but keeping the spices. The result? Delicious. And obviously more afforable using our own produce. Just wait for it: by the end of summer I’ll either be fed up with squash or sadly resert back to those at the store.

Zucchini Kidney Bean Curry

No day is complete without some …? Chocolate, right. I’ve been surprising myself with a changed taste preference here. After my recent purchase I haven’t been fancying my old favourite at all anymore. Dare I say it tastes … odd to me? Well, I guess they say tastes change as we grow up. As of yet I’d asumed this was only true in terms of more nutritious foods [can you believe I wouldn’t touch a tomato as a child and now can’t get enough of our homegrown ones?] but why not include chocolate? It’s from a bean so basically a vegetable/legume after all 😉 .

Mint chocolate

Because we’ve reached the sweet ending of this post I bid you goodbye and see you again tomorrow!

Happiness-inducing today: Meeting an old acquaintance and his cute dog and having a nice chat.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

How have your taste preferences changed in the past?

What’s your current go-to breakfast? How often do you change it up?

Tell me your favourite flavour combination: Chocolate and _______________?

 

 

 

 

 

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A balanced Fiesta [Vegan Enchilada Bake with Cauliflower Nacho Sauce]

Deliciously doughy tortillas layered with spicy enchilada sauce and topped with a creamy vegan nacho dip – a healthy fiesta for one.

As single-serving pizzas, quesadillas or wraps: Tortillas are one of those ingredients popular all over the healthy living blog world. Yet I had never taken part in the rolling, baking or grilling business because – like I mentioned – Germany has yet to fully jump on the tortilla train. There are no brown rice/ high fiber/ high protein/ low-carb/ you name it wraps over here. Not even whole wheat ones. The ‘bad’ and ‘unhealthy’ white tortilla? No way. Or not until my desire for tortillas was stronger than my fear of white grains. And stepping outside my comfort zone couldn’t have been more rewarding than this delicious pan of doughy tortilla goodness.

Tortilla bake 1

And about those ‘unhealthy’ labels? Like I said in my What I ate Wednesday post it’s about the big picture. Some good friends – kidney beans, corn and what I [falsely or not] dub Mexican spices – joined the torilla for a Mexican fiesta in a casserole dish making it a nutritious meal. Just in case anybody else is struggling with the ‘bad’ white grains I thought it’d be fun to deconstruct this dish.

  • Bell peppers: 1 cup boasts more than 150  % of our daily needs of Vitamin C and 16 % of the recommended amount of Vitamin A.*
  • Kidney beans are a good source of iron in a vegetarian/ vegan diet and add plenty of fiber to the dish.*
  • Cauliflower contains a significant amount of potassium, fiber and a multitude of other vitamins.*
  • One Tortilla wrap: 100 % of a meal’s need of deliciousness 😉

Because I can be a nutrition geek at times I logged the whole dish [why, yes, I had some free time] and it totalled at 405 % of the daily recommendation for Vitamin C, 78 % of Vitamin A, 38 % of our iron needs and contained around 17 g of [vegan] protein. In short: a perfectly balanced meal.

Tortilla Bake 3

While I’d have happily eaten the enchilada mix with the tortilla as is I decided to up the dish a notch. Taking a clue from Ashley  cauliflower stood in for the nacho ‘cheese’ topping. Trust me it’s good and if you end up eating it straight from the blender I won’t judge you. Much. Just leave some for this dish and we can still be friends.

Enchilada Bake with Cauliflower Nacho Sauce [for one]

1 flour tortilla, cut into six to eight triangles

Enchilada Sauce

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup of kidney beans
  • 2 tbsps corn [or more but this was the remainder for me]
  • 3/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of dark cocoa

Cauliflower Nacho Sauce:

  • generous 3/4 cup cauliflower [around 80 g]
  • 1 tbsp salsa
  • 1-2 tbsps nutritional yeast [or more to taste]
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of smoked paprika [this is key!]

Start by preparing the nacho sauce:

  1. Boil the cauliflower florets until tender. Drain, reserving the cooking liquid.
  2. Blend with 2-3 tbsps liquid and the remaining ingredients until smooth. Set aside.

For the enchilada sauce:

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic for about four minutes.
  2. Sprinkle in the spices and toast for another minute.
  3. Add in the bell pepper and mushrooms and stir-fry until the mushrooms begin to brown.
  4. Add spinach and let wilt.
  5. Pour in the passata and stir. Mix in the kidney beans, corn and cocoa and let simmer for another few minutes until slightly thickened.
  6. To assemble pour half of the enchilada sauce into a greased casserole dish. Layer half of the tortilla triangles on top, letting them overlap.
  7. Add the other half of the sauce and the remaining tortilla. Cover with the nacho sauce and bake for about 20 minutes.
  8. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Tortilla Bake 4

Just because Cinco de Mayo is over doesn’t mean you can’t [or shouldn’t!] eat Mexican food anymore until next year. But I don’t really need to tell you how good it is, right?!

I’m joining Laura’s Strange but Good party, Kierston and Healthy Vegan Fridays so stop by any of those for more recipe inspiration – Mexican or not.

 

Happiness inducing today: The birds chirping outside my window in the morning.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

What’s your favourite way to use tortillas?

[How] did you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

 Are you a nutrition geek? Usually I don’t look up the foods I eat because I trust in my intuition leading to an overall balance but every now and then it’s fun to see just how healthy delicious can be. (:

Simply perfect [Brussels Sprout Chili with Cauliflower Couscous]

There are recipes that come together on a whim and are so simply they hardly seem worthy calling a recipe. However, when thinking about the type of recipes I prefer on other blogs and in cookbooks it’s actually just this kind that I’m most likely to try. Yes, the fancy stew that calls for roasting vegetables, at the same time multitasking the homemade vegetable broth on the stove and baking your own biscuits to go along with it is tempting.

Giant white bean chili

Taking it away right here: this recipe isn’t anything like that. Let’s be honest: who has the time and patience for a dish that takes more than twice as long to prepare as eating it does? At least on a weekday afternoon or night? If you need any more convincing of how easy and fast this is the day I first tried this I had just come home ready to chew my arm off. Granted, there may or may not have been a spoonful of peanut butter and some cereal to tide me over while the chili cooked on the stove. But it still isn’t too much work to whip up on a weekday – and even less if you’re doubling the serving size.

Chili_spoon

Don’t be surprised by the random odds and ends coming together in this dish. It’s just what happens when I’m working on another produce stash that has grown into large dimensions without me noticing. And sooner than I’d like I’m faced with the task of using them up as soon as humanly possible. Or sooner.

Chili VI

When deciding what to have for lunch I knew I wanted creaminess but also a tomato-y element. Out of soy creamer I knew tomato sauce alone wasn’t going to satisfy and when I spotted the tiny remainder of butternut squash in my fridge it seemed worth a try. And it was a good try.

Brussels Sprout Chili with Cauliflower Couscous

  • ½ cup passata/tomato sauce
  • ½ cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1 heaped tbsp of salsa
  • 1/2 cup [100 g] kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup [50 g] giant white beans
  • A handful of Brussels sprouts, washed, outer layers removed and sliced thinly into disks
  • 1 cup [100 g] cauliflower
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dark cocoa powder

1. Heat the passata in a pot over medium heat with the cayenne pepper and oregano.

2. Add the butternut squash and let simmer until it is tender.

3. Blend the butternut squash and passata to create a thick sauce. Add about 1/4 cup of water if it’s too thick. You’ll want it to be more saucy than like a stew before you add the beans and Brussels sprouts. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the salsa.

4. Meanwhile, process the cauliflower in a food processor until it reaches couscous/rice consistency.

5. Add the cauliflower couscous to the chili. You might need to add some more water at this point as the ‘couscous’ absorbs some of it. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes so the cauliflower softens slightly.

6. Stir in the cocoa powder, add salt and pepper and adjust seasonings to taste. It tastes best when left to sit for a while before serving to let the flavours mingle a little.

Serve whichever way you like to eat your chili. I enjoy adding a dollop of plain soy yogurt on top and a spoonful of peanut butter mixed in.

Chili_

Because I hope others agree there can never be enough easy and quick recipes in my opinion I’m linking up with Laura, Kierston, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekends. Head over to all of them for even more meal inspiration.

Have a delicious and happy Friday!

Happiness inducing today: One of my articles for the newspaper being accepted right away – and it was even for the Sports department which really isn’t my specialty.

Keep in touch:
Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

What’s your favourite way to eat chili? With some crusty bread for dipping? Yogurt? Hot sauce?

Are you more intrigued to try simple or more involved recipes?

Con-fusing definitions [Kidney Bean Pot Pie with Mashed Parsnip Topping]

First things first: I’m glad many of you like the idea of a Blogger Birthday Calendar! Just so I can work on it [further, that is, as I already got started] please let me know your birth date in the comments of yesterday’s post if you’d like to be included. What’s not to like about birthday wishes from all over the [blog] world?!

Let’s talked [confusing] defintions! In case you’re really busy and just want to see the recipe you’re excused to skip to the bottom of this post right away. If, like me, you enjoy some random musings in a recipe post join me in my ponderings.

bite

While taking the first bites of this dish I wondered how I personally defined strange but good. It’s [obviously] never an inedible dish but just something I wouldn’t serve to my parents [or any other family member for that matter]. Granted, they are interested in new foods and dishes but at the same time consider oat bran [not kidding!] strange already so … there you go. Who knows what my dad would think of Indian-German fusion dishes? I’d rather not try to avoid creating memories or running gags of the “do you remember the time* when you served us that weird food?!”

Bean Bake

*Michael Jackson reference totally unintended but not unwelcome

The next definition confusion: Know that when I’ using the term ‘fusion cuisine’ I actually have no idea what the exact definition is. Usually being Miss proof-read-and-check-everything-twice when it comes to work I’m letting loose of my need to control everything on the blog. That being said my definition of fusion cuisine is met by just combining elements of different styles of cooking. Mashed potatoes [Kartoffelpüree] are typically German to me, the spices in the kidney bean part are Indian-inspired – ergo: fusing two cuisines. Simple. Wrong or right? Feel free to let me know if you’re familiar with these terms.

Fusion

Vegan Kidney Bean Pot Pie with Mashed Parsnip Topping

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • ½ cup kidney beans (100 g)
  • ½ cup passata/tomato sauce
  • ¾ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • coconut oil for frying
  • optional: 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 4-5 brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and quartered
  • Scant ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Garlic + onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the beans:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until translucent.
  2. sprinkle in the spices. Turn the heat down to medium and carefully toast the spices for about two minutes. Don’t walk away or you might burn them.
  3. Mix in the kidney beans and sauté for about two to three minutes.
  4. Add the passata and let simmer for five more minutes. Lightly mash some of the kidney beans to create a creamier texture.
  5. Layer the kidney bean sauce into a small casserole dish. Add the mushrooms on top if using.

For the mashed parsnips:

  1. Add parnsips and Brussels sprouts to a small pot and add just enough water to cover them. Cook until tender.
  2. Pour in almond milk and blend [I used an immersion blender] until not completely smooth but leaving parts of the Brussels sprouts whole.
  3. Season to taste with garlic and onion powder*, salt and pepper.
  4. Spoon the mashed parsnips on top of the kidney bean mixture. Smoothen out the top.
  5. Bake the covered casserole in the preheated oven [375°F] for 20-25 minutes.

*I find tastes vary hugely so my advice would be to start by adding just a sprinkle of garlic powder and 1/4 tsp of onion powder for a start. Then season to taste.

Seeing this as a spin on the classic American pot pie I noticed just now that I’m writing this post that I actually fused three cuisines. An American/German/Indian fusion dish? Should we call it a multicultural taste experience?! I’ll let Laura and Kierston – as well as you – be the judges :). I’m also linking up with Healthy Vegan Friday for the first time.

Happiness inducing today: Many wonderful happening that almost made me forget today (Friday) [or todmorrow – depening on what time you’re reading this] is my last day at the newspaper.

Have you ever fused two cuisines? Which ones and how?

Are you a fact-checker or relaxed about terms, definitions and spelling? I’m usually really finicky about it and my colleagues and family are simultaneously glad and scared when asking me to proof-read any texts they’ve written. Knowing I’ll be deeply honest and hard in my criticism.

Red Lentil Kabocha Chili [vegan]

When it comes to seasonal cravings it’s no secret that I’m a little off at times. Ice cream in autumn? Stews in summer? Judging just from the dishes themselves I’m no good example for eating seasonally – or so it seems. Once more a blog isn’t telling the whole story :). Because what’s true is that the ingredients I use in those apparently off-season dishes are in season.

Lentil

Right now, however, is the perfect season for comfort foods like chili. Kabocha was a no-brainer when it came to which vegetables to add to the recipe. Until now I’d only thought of seasonal cravings in terms of produce. Berries in summer, squash in autumn … Not, however, in terms of staple foods that are available all year.

Kabocha Red Lentil Stew

Ever since becoming [mostly] vegan I’ve been a huge legume fiend. In fact, there’s hardly a day I go without these little nutritional powerhouses [yes, I admit I just had to include this term]. Yet – as mentioned in my post on Wednesday already – there are kinds I keep forgetting about. Namely red lentils. And that’s where it gets seasonal again: To me, lentils are much of an autumn/winter food though I’d never given more thought to this.

Reminiscing my childhood it’s no surprise: hearty lentil soups or stews were an staple dish during those colder months. They’re the stick-to-your-ribs warming kind of meal perfect for this time of the year. Needless to say this Red Lentil Chili hit the spot both the first time I had it and even more when my mum came for a visit – it was cold.

Red Lentil Kabocha Chili

  • one small red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 150 g kabocha, cubed [seasonal eating-friendly sub: carrots]
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds [don’t sub ground unless you absolutely have to]
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • about 1-1 1/2 cups of water or vegetable broth [depends on several factors like how old your lentils were, how long you let the chili simmer, …]
  • 2-3 tablespoons of kidney beans
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter
  1. Sauté the onion in oil until translucent. Add garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Add the spices and fry them for a minute or so being careful not to burn them!
  3. Mix in kabocha and lentils, stirring to combine all ingredients. You might need to add some water to prevent the spices from burning.
  4. Pour in the passata and let simmer for about 25-30 minutes. I kept adding water/broth whenever the stew became too thick.
  5. Once the red lentils are tender, mix in the kidney beans and let simmer for a few more minutes to heat them up, too. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Stir in the coconut butter.

Notes:

With kabocha season being short [at least over here] I already tried the option of carrots in its place – works a charm.

The coconut butter is not optional because it adds so much to the dish. In fact, my mum and I kept crumbling more of it over our individual servings. Dare I say I might have converted my mum to become a little more of a nut butter fiend?!

And: Like just about everything this tastes amazing topped with almond butter. Coconut and almond butter in one meal? Marvelous!

Kabocha Lentil

I’ll admit I was a little anxious serving this to my mum as she’s not exactly easy to please and assured me she had a sandwich packed when coming over [sweet, isn’t she?]. But in the end we both enjoyed the meal and I can proudly present my first mum-approved recipe on the blog. Time to celebrate – and joining Kierston’s Recipe Friday seems like a great party to attend.

Happy Friday!

Happiness inducing today: Talking to a good friend.

Which  foods do you find yourself craving more during the colder months?

What are some of your favourite lentil recipes?

Are you anxious when serving recipes your created yourself to your family and friends?

Cheating deliciously [Spaghetti Squash Bake]

First things first: Happy World Vegan Day!

Do you ever notice trends in the way you cook or the recipes you create? When it comes to the latter or at least those I’ve posted on the blog there’s an obvious one: just about every recipe contains legumes of some kind. Be it beans in their natural – wait, are canned beans still ‘natural’? – form or more processed as silken tofu: I can’t deny I’m a legume fiend. This hasn’t always been the case but becoming vegetarian somehow naturally lead me to incorporating more of these fine little guys into my diet and I’m not complaining. It’s not even intentionally for the reason of trying to get in my protein and nutrients but an intuitive choice for taste reasons. Just goes to show how smart our bodies are making us choose what we need.

Spaghetti Squash

Okay, first trend: beans. Another one I found myself laughing at just today was my constant ‘faking it’ attitude. Think of my Mushroom Stroganoff or Chickpeas in Blueberry Mole: I’ve never had the ‘real deal’ of either of those dishes so I just winged it keeping only the name. Authenticity? No. Deliciousness? Yes!

Spaghetti

The same goes for the [unfried] ‘refried beans’ in this dish: I’ve never actually had them but came upon numerous recipes and as the spices were right up my alley decided to turn it into a new meal. The ones in this recipe are adapted from Appetite for Reduction but changing up amounts and subbing kidney beans for the unavailable [authentic] pinto beans. With spaghetti squash being a newfound second favourite – right behind kabocha which can’t be beaten – I just got working in the kitchen. The result was a probably highly inauthentic but totally satisfying meal.

Cheater ‘Refried Bean’ Spaghetti Squash Bake

  • 200 g spaghetti squash strands
  • 1 ½ tbsps white almond butter mixed with 2-3 tbsps water
  • 150 g kidney beans
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • ½ cup passata/tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cups fresh spinach [45 g]
  • freshly ground nutmeg
  • nutritional yeast
  1. Sauté half of the onion with the garlic until slightly browned. Add in the spices and stir-fry until fragrant being careful not to burn them.
  2. Add the kidney beans and mash with a fork leaving some beans whole. Stir in the tomato sauce and let simmer for a few more minutes to let the flavours mingle.
  3. Pour the ‘unfried’ beans into a casserole dish.
  4. In the same pot add the remaining onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the spinach and let wilt. Season lightly with salt and a dash of freshly ground nutmeg.
  5. Layer the spinach on top of the beans.
  6. Arrange the spaghetti squash on top. Spread the almond butter ‘sauce’ onto the squash and sprinkle generously with nutritional yeast.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven at 350°F for 20-25 minutes.

About those pictures? They’re the result of a current weather trend I’m not fond of combined with the fact that mashed beans just never look delicious [don’t prove me wrong, please!]. However, when a recipe’s worth sharing I’ll bite the bullet and go with whichever pictures I managed to snap.

Spaghetti squashAnd about the white almond butter? Sorry for using it once more – it adds a lot of creaminess. If you have a food processor: go and make your own by using blanched almonds. If you don’t … well, then I’d better convince my favourite almond butter company to team up with me for a giveaway 😉 [if only!]. Really, though, I’d suggest subbing any creamy mildly flavoured nut butter like white cashew if you feel like eating a nice plate of creamy [fake] spaghetti with [cheater] refried beans. Not a bad cheat if I dare say so myself ;). Strange? Maybe. Good? Totally.

I’m also linking up with Kierston for Recipe Friday so make sure to head over and get inspired by some of the other creations, too – maybe even some more vegan ones to celebrate today?!

Happiness inducing today: Meeting a friend at a [vegan] café and spending several hours chatting about anything and everything.

Authenticity: Do you pay attention to it when cooking or can’t help but put your own spin on recipes? For me it’s most often about ingredient non-availability and the fact that I’ve likely never had the real deal. If I ever happen upon the chance, though, I’d be more than happy to try dishes from many different cuisines prepared the authentic way.

What are some of the most used ingredients in your kitchen?