Monday, August 25, 2014

Mashed Chickpea Salad

This MASHED CHICKPEA SALAD aka VEGAN MOCK TUNA SALAD is a perfect dish to eat as a dip, or atop sandwiches on a nice bed of lettuce and tomatoes.  It’s texture and flavor makes this salad a suitable alternative to traditional tuna-fish salad.  It’s a good source of vegetable based protein and it's high in fiber… healthy and hearty.

Mock Tuna Chickpea Salad

  • 1 can (25 oz.) Organic Garbanzo Beans
  • 1-2 stalks Celery;  thinly sliced
  • 1 Jalapeños;  de-seeded + finely diced
  • 1 Lemon;  juiced
  • 2 Tbsp. Parsley;  finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. Vegenaise
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper

  • Wash and clean all fresh produce.
  • Place the Garbanzo Beans into a colander and rinse them clean.
  • Cut the fresh produce according to the instructions above.
  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and then mash everything with a potato masher until all the Garbanzo Beans are sufficiently smashed.
  • That’s it.  Serve immediately or set to chill in the refrigerator.
  • Use as you would conventional tuna salad.
       Nina & Spencer

Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Vegetable Chili

CHILI FOR DAYS!  This weeks recipe features a veggie lover’s chili and a rant about my choice to eat a plant-based diet.  This comforting and hearty chili is by no means a traditional chili recipe, but a recipe tailored specifically to my taste preferences (I like the bright flavor of a lot of vegetables in my dishes) and to my dietary lifestyle (a plant-based diet, no onions or garlic).  People often wonder why I feel so strongly about the foods I omit from my diet.  Why, they ask?  The short and socially polite answer is that consuming animal protein makes me really sick.  I’m doing decidedly better in the onion department, but the subsequent fever and strong gastro-intestinal problems after eating them strongly impact my life and my well being.  While it has become increasingly and much more socially accepted to eat Vegan, it never fails to baffle people that I won’t want onions or garlic.  How could anyone not like garlic?  And this always leaves me speechless, because a briefing on my bowel movement really shouldn’t be part of a polite dinner conversation or chit-chat with serving personal at a restaurant.  Also, it’s probably not best placed as a prelude to a recipe…but hey, there you go.


You are most certainly welcome to add ingredients such as onions, garlic or ground beef to our chili recipe.  On the other hand, my husband and I worked hard to spice our chili correctly and to include ingredients that add texture as well as flavor so that this vegan concoction holds the essence of a traditional chili.  Note, for example, how the Bulgur Wheat is similar in texture to crumbled ground beef.
I hope sharing our recipes shows that just because I prefer to eat a plant-based diet, certainly does not mean I want to sacrifice the pleasure of cooking and eating well—and yummy.  I’m really not interested in faux “meat” and “dairy” products, or any type of remorse-diet foods.  The goal in the kitchen is to nourish my body.  In this manner, we both feel passionate about making vegetables take center stage in the dishes we cook and making them taste “right.” 
People often wonder if the diet I keep is something I could sustain, or if I feel like I’m missing out on culinary experiences.  In my case, feeling ill is unsustainable.  To me, it's not worth to compromise my health for convenience or something I might want to eat. 

  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 can (15 oz.) Pinto Beans
  • 1/2 cup Bulgur Wheat
  • homemade Vegetable stock or water
  • 2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
  • 1 small can of Tomato Paste
  • 3 large Heirloom Tomatoes;  diced
  • 2 Bell Peppers;  julienned
  • 1 ear fresh Corn; cut off the cob
  • 2 stalks Celery;  chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 heaping tbsp. Chili Powder (we made our own mixture by combining: 1 tsp. Paprika, 1 tsp. Ground Cumin, 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper, 1 tsp. Oregano)
  • 1 Lemon;  juiced
  • fresh Cilantro and Parsley;  minced

  • Wash and clean all fresh produce.
  • Combine the beans into a colander and rinse them clean.
  • Warm 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of vegetable stock in a small pot.  Add 1/2 cup of Bulgur Wheat and bring the everything to a boil.  At this point, lower the temperature to a simmer and cook until the Bulgur absorbed all the liquid.  Test for doneness.  It is done when the grain is soft but has a tender texture.
  • In a large pot or large skillet, warm 2 Tbsp. of cooking oil and roast the corn.
  • While the corn is browning, cut the vegetables and add them to the pot to sauté in the following order:  bell pepper, celery, and finally the tomatoes. 
  • Next, add 2 cups of vegetable stock, tomato paste, ground cumin and chili powder and stir to combine.  Also add the bulgur and the beans into the chili.
  • Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  After the cooking time has passed, give the soup a good stir and have a taste test.  Depending on the ripeness of the ingredients, it might be a good idea to season with a little salt.
  • Spoon into a deep dish or bowl, garnish with a generous dash of freshly chopped herbs and a good spritz of lemon juice.
  • Enjoy!
       Nina & Spencer

Monday, August 11, 2014

Spicy & Sparkling Green Juice

This delicious vegan, cucumber and herb smoothie has quite a kick of spice to it.  We’ve been making this juice lately and we love it!  It’s light and spicy, but it’s also refreshing.  This drink is perfect for sipping on a hot summer day, or perhaps to cleanse the palate after a nice meal.


  • 1 young Thai coconut;  chilled
  • 1 medium size English Cucumber;  peeled + chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh Parsley;  finely minced
  • 1.5 Tbsp. fresh Basil;  finely minced
  • 1.5 Tbsp. fresh Mint;  finely minced
  • 1 Lemon;  juiced
  • 1/4 tsp. fine Sea Salt (we used Red Hawaiian Sea Salt)
  • 1 small Jalapeño;  cored and seeds removed (or as much or as little heat as you can handle/we used about half)
  • cold Sparkling Water
  • optional:  Ice Cubes
  • Wash and clean all fresh produce.
  • Blend the coconut “meat,” chopped cucumber, herbs, lemon juice, ice cubes, salt and jalapeno into a blender until smooth.
  • Pour the mixture into 2 tall glasses (we used 12 oz. glasses) and then fill them to the top with mineral water.  Stir more if needed and add slices of cucumber for garnish if you like.

I hope you are all having a fantastic week!
       Nina & Spencer

Monday, August 4, 2014

Apricot Jam

We’re JAMMING!  This is a very simple and low-key recipe to transform your apricot harvest into a delicious jam!   It's an all natural recipe with basic ingredients, without food preservatives, pectin or added artificial flavors and colors.  Just APRICOTS, SUGAR, LEMONS and an APPLE—that’s it. 


No added pectin, you ask?  NO.  Pectin is present in varying levels in all fruit.  Apricots have a medium level of natural pectin and will therefore set quite easily, especially when combined with high pectin fruits such as apples or citrus fruits.  I wasn’t so keen on using pectin in our jam, even though all of our jam making relatives told us it’s what you do.  I wasn’t convinced (and “pectin research” on the web pretty much only made me paranoid).  Here I had pounds and pounds of beautiful, handpicked, sun-ripened organic apricots and I didn’t like the idea of adding a packaged, GMO gelling agent to it.  I just couldn’t.  I suppose it’s the purist in me, or the stubborn German.  I decided the pectin in the peel of a large tart apple and freshly pressed lemon juice will do to jell my jam.  I was prepared to take the risk, but it worked like a charm. 

Also, to spice the jam naturally we utilized some of the apricot pits.  The kernels inside apricot stones are edible and we added them into the cooking pot to give a jam a slightly almond flavor.   In order to get to the kernels, crack the apricot pits with a hammer or nutcracker.

Hope this inspired you to try jamming yourself.  Get yourself prepared for the aroma that will fill your house while you're simmering the jam on the stove—it’s nothing short of divine.

  • 9 cups fresh Apricots;  pitted and diced
  • 5 Apricot Pits;  seeds only
  • 6 cups Sugar
  • 2 fresh Lemons;  juiced and peeled
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple;  peel only

  • Place a clean saucer in your freezer for testing the jam later.
  • WASH the jars and lids in hot, soapy water.  Rinse well and dry.
  • HEAT the oven to 250°F (120°C) and bake the jars for 20 minutes to sterilize them.  It’s best to set the jars onto baking trays in order to make it easier to handle them when they’re hot.
  • Wash and clean all fresh produce:  apricots, lemons and the apple.
  • Pit the apricots and cut them into a small dice—this also makes it easier to measure out the fruit.  Place the apricots into a large nonreactive pot.
  • Peel the apple in one long and continuous ribbon and then do the same to the two lemons.
  • Juice the lemons.
  • Measure out the sugar, then add all ingredients to the pot and stir well to combine everything evenly.
  • Place the pot over high heat, bring the mixture to a boil and stir frequently.
  • At this point, lower the heat slightly and work the pieces of apricot with a potato masher until liquid in the pot becomes syrupy and you’ve reached the texture of jam you like (piecy or smooth).
  • Cook and stir frequently with a heatproof rubber spatula for 15-20 minutes.  Monitor the heat closely as you stir to prevent the jam from bubbling or sticking.  Lower the heat if necessary.
  • After about 15 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and test the jam for doneness.  The color of the apricots should by now be much darker, it’s texture syrupy and glossy.
  • To test the jam’s consistency, carefully place a small amount of jam into the ice cold saucer.  Place the dish into the freezer for a minute, then remove and see if the jam is still runny, or if it has thickened to a jell-like consistency.  If it is still runny, cook it for a few more minutes and then test again, but if it’s thickened up on the cold dish, it’s done.
  • Remove the apricot kernels, as well as the apple and lemon peels from the jam. 
  • Pour the hot jam carefully into sterilized jars, apply the prepared lids and close the rings firmly.  If you spill jam onto the jar, clean the rim by using a clean, damp cloth.
  • Place the now full jam jars onto baking trays and back into the still warm oven.  The warmth of the oven will help seal the jars and preserve them properly.
  • Let cool and set by leaving the jars undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.  Check the lids to make sure each jar is sealed.  The lids should not flex up and down when you press in the center.
       Nina & Spencer