Massaged Collard-Apple Salad

collardapple

I love Collards! I am starting to add small amounts of massaged greens back into my diet with decent results as long as I don’t over do it! I also love apples, and have really missed being able to eat them. This salad serves 6 and will keep in the fridge for several days. You can also use it in place of lettuce in a sandwich or wrap (BBQ Tofu and Hummus come to mind!)

  • 8 cups raw collards, chiffonade cut
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 2 tbsp. red onion, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 medium gala apples, chopped, tossed with 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp golden flax meal
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • Pinch cardamom
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • Soy sauce to taste

Method:

  1. Chop collards, then massage with the carrot, onion, garlic, salt and 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar for several minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss to combine.
  3. Let the salad sit for 15 minutes, taste and season with soy sauce if necessary

This is a great holiday salad and can be made ahead of time!

 

So, I went to Jamaica.

jamaicafood
The most disappointing meal in Jamaica, but it has given me major inspiration to recreate it!

The Boyfriend and I went to Jamaica for a week and I have come home with a lot of food inspiration! Those who know me, know how much I love Habaneros (Scotch Bonnets.)

The food was definitely hit or miss. We stayed at the Rose Hall Hilton near Montego Bay. They had a daily buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They also had several restaurants. I was able to put in a request for tofu and beans to be added to my meals in the restaurants. The first dinner was great! Tofu with veggies, marinara and pasta. Excellent! I didn’t take any pics though. I actually did not bring my camera with me to Jamaica, only my phone and kindle, so there are hardly any food pics. I was more interested in the scenery than food anyway when it came to taking phone pics.

On the two excursions (Bob Marley House in Nine Mile and the Black River Safari) I requested vegetarian food since lunch was included in the tour. The first lunch was really really good! Rice/Beans and very flavorful cabbage and veggies with the most amazing, scorching hot scotch bonnet sauce. I think the sauce was just scotch bonnets, garlic, spice and vinegar. I was so thrilled with the taste of the veggies even without the sauce, I found the Chef (we were at a little roadside restaurant) and hugged her! It’s so lovely to express gratitude to someone for preparing you a great meal! The Boyfriend loved his Jerk Pork/Chicken too. It was served with rice/peas and a fried something or other that I assume must have been fried in lard, since it wasn’t on my plate. No pics of the lunch..

The second lunch on the Black River Safari was decent. They didn’t have the habanero sauce, only bottled sauce that kind of tasted like a cross between Tabasco and Wing Sauce. It was rice/beans and cabbage and veggies. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the food and especially enjoyed the fact that I was given grains/beans and veggies, which are very satisfying and filling. No wimpy salad considered a meal!

Jamaica 833Our second fancypants dinner (we ate at the buffet the rest of the nights, which was great.. I could always find food. I did end up eating a lot more beans and veggies than normal, but I am slowly getting better, so the consequences weren’t as bad as they have been in the past.) was really horrible. It was my fault, I’m sure, because I should have had them prepare the tofu/marinara/pasta for me like they did the first night, but instead I ordered the pesto pasta sans salmon. I took two bites. bleh. gross. I’m sure the salmon added some element to the dish that was severely lacking without it. I was impressed that the server knew to tell me there was anchovy paste in the salad dressing. It made me feel confident they cared about what I was ordering. That means a lot.

The last dinner was excellent! It was a Jamaican Curried Beans and Veggies served with coconut sauce, basmati, and mango chutney. They brought me a lovely HOT scotch bonnet sauce too. YUM! Again, no pics.  We were eating outside, our last night, under the full moon. You can’t get much better than that!

Finally, I want to talk about the meal in the picture at the beginning of this entry. I am not going to name names of the restaurant, but it was a place I found on Yelp. It was said to be “The best vegetarian food on a budget in Montego Bay.” They Boyfriend and I took a taxi into the city and walked for a while to try to find the place. As we were walking, it became apparent that we were not being well received by the locals. Frankly, I don’t blame them for the way they react to us (tourists) and I somewhat blame myself for not researching more about the Jamaican culture and the restaurant. Naive American for sure at work here! For the record, I don’t recommend walking around Montego Bay. We should have known when the taxi driver wanted to drive us from place to place and was shocked we wanted to be dropped off. (We love going to local supermarkets and checking out the produce, hot sauces and everything else. I’m a sucker for prices, and love to see how much things cost in other places. Yes, I’m weird and my amazing boyfriend totally indulges me!)

So, we finally found the place and I have to say, they did not want to wait on us. I was super excited to find the vegetarian restaurant and had envisioned talking to the Chef all about vegetarian (actually vegan) food if he wasn’t busy.

RASTA copyWhen were were finally able to order, I expressed how much I loved spicy food and was really looking forward to eating here, since I had found the place on Yelp. Stony silence. We tried to ask about the food, but the woman did not explain anything (the menu wasn’t that clear)..  They had BBQ Soy (I asked if it was tofu and she said it was. It wasn’t it was a soy/gluten nugget, which I can’t stand by the way!).. I ordered the “Soy” BBQ plate and The Boyfriend ordered the Two Pea and Rice plate. They were beautifully presented. We also ordered a vegetable hand pie, which we both liked, but wanted some spicy sauce with. The crust of the hand pie was a lovely whole wheat crust and was beautifully prepared and flavored.

What I liked about the meal:

  • The food was obviously very fresh and of good quality.
  • Portions were generous
  • Lovely flavor of bulgur and brown rice
  • You can’t go wrong with collards!
  • I felt good after eating it.
  • Prices were more than reasonable.

What I didn’t like about the meal:

  • BLAND!
  • Literally no spices or seasoning.
  • No salt (no salt/pepper or any seasoning on the table either)
  • Gluten/Soy nuggets and not tofu
  • The fact that I did not feel comfortable sending my food back
  • No salt at all in any of the food
  • No sauces offered, only cayenne powder
  • Literally just a plate of boiled squash, plantain, grains and beans with no seasoning whatsoever.
  • The collard/cabbage/carrots had no seasoning/dressing/acid at all
  • The negative energy being projected towards us.

The restaurant apparently serves Ital food, but not really. I guess Ital food is totally up to the chef. Since they offered gluten/soy processed products, I assumed they would also season their food with salt. If you aren’t going to use salt and acid in your food, then you better use a lot of herbs, but they didn’t use ANY.

So disappointing on so many levels.

Yes, very much First World Problems!

I just had this built up in my head to be an experience and a way to connect with the people running the restaurant.

That being said, I am now VERY inspired to create my own versions of this food. I have already written a recipe for a Rice, Pea and Veggie dish that I plan on making later today and if it’s as delicious as I think it will be, I will share the recipes with you guys.

It’s kind of hard cooking right now, because it’s only me. The Boyfriend has been working out of town 5 days a week, and there’s only so much I can eat. My freezer is super stocked with single portion meals, that’s for sure!

On the bright side, he is collecting Hilton Points! When we went to Costa Rica, he had enough points so all he had to pay for was air fare.

I had an amazing time and I am so grateful for the experience. We traveled with The Boyfriend’s parents and they are lovely people. I hope to go back to Jamaica some day!

jamacollage

Are you looking for Melomeals recipes?

Blog post coming about this amazing feast I cooked for The Boyfriend!
Blog post coming up all about this amazing feast I cooked for The Boyfriend!

Since my Melomeals blog was hacked recently, I have thought long and hard about what I want to do with my content.

Over the years, I have freely given away several cookbooks worth of recipes; which was great, because I love creating flavorful plant-based food and sharing it with people.

Most of my content is backed up, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple to access. Some recipes are on disk, many have been salvaged from several computers that crashed and now live on The Boyfriend’s external server.

I was notoriously not very organized with my files, so recipes and pictures are all over the place. I recently had to reinstall my OS (after the situation with my blog) and have created a strict system for myself so I can organize my files in a more logical sense.

Every single day, I get numerous requests for recipes. I have spent a lot of time digging for recipes and copying them for people, but I realized that it is taking too much of my time to respond to every request.

I have decided I will start offering customized E-Books. I am going to spend the next several weeks creating a recipe directory so people can pick and choose:

  • 5 recipes for $10
  • 10 recipes for $15
  • 20 recipes for $30.

I will also offer customized recipes. The price for this service will be determined by the recipe.

I know I have played around with E-book ideas for a while, and I have actually written the content, but I just can’t justify selling them for the small amount of money that people are charging for E-books.

I value my time and creativity too much to do that.

I think that we are doing each other a disservice by giving away content for free or nearly free because everyone else is and it has become expected.

I want to enjoy blogging again, because I do love creating amazing food. I love talking about it, writing about it and photographing it!

I haven’t felt enjoyment for a long time, and I will touch more on that in future writings as I reclaim this blog for myself.

There seems to have been a slow descent into insanity online, and every post, no matter what I content I put forward was subject to judgment, scrutiny and more importantly, I have noticed a very disturbing trend towards Orthorexia within the online food blogging community. This concerns me greatly and I do not want to be associated with any of that.

So, from this day forward, this blog is going to be my home. I have never really felt comfortable expressing my opinions and writing authentically because of the backlash, but that stops today.

I may write about the meal I lovingly prepared for my boyfriend which contains meat. I do it as an act of service because I love him dearly and it makes me so happy to take care of him. (I don’t eat meat and never will.)

I will probably talk more about the methods I use to create food and the food itself instead of writing recipes. I don’t cook that way. I just create, so stopping to write recipes constantly takes the joy out of it for me. It makes it feel like a job, and if I’m going to “work”, then I’m going to get paid.

This doesn’t mean I won’t ever post recipes, but I certainly am not going to post recipes for everything I want to talk about!

I am also going to write quite a bit about my opinions on food and health related matters, because they have been a very important factor in my life and I have had to come to terms with a lot of brainwashing regarding food and health.

I realize this will alienate many of you, but I’m OK with that. There are thousands of blogs out there to choose from.

This is MY home now.

You are welcome in my home, but DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE!

If I sound like I have a chip on my shoulder, I do!

When my blog was hacked recently, I completely broke down. YEARS of my work were gone.

HOURS. UPON HOURS. UPON HOURS.

Do you have idea how much time, money and creative passion went into Melomeals? Probably not, especially if you are just stopping by for a recipe you pinned.

To have it just taken away like that made me feel like the last 8 YEARS of my creative and frankly, my PROFESSIONAL life (It was really the best online resume to showcase my cooking style!) was stolen from me.

It almost broke me. It didn’t help that it was just after my second foot surgery in a year. The last 2 years of my life has been extremely difficult, and everything I loved doing both socially and professionally has been compromised and diminished due to health problems.

I am now, finally, on the road to recovery. The last foot surgery I had, has fixed my foot, but I still have months of recovery to go before I can hopefully work on my feet again full time.

I now see things in a new light. This is a turning point for me and it has made me very clear on my feelings. For those of you still with me, WELCOME!

I hope you enjoy my new blog.

Homemade Coconut Milk

coconut milk Canned coconut  milk is so decadent and delicious in curries and desserts, but in my day to day life, I don’t really want all of the fat, so I like to make my own alternative.

I use unsweetened, dried coconut flakes. I like to make big batches and freeze them in 1-2 cup containers. The milk goes bad after a couple days, so the freezer is my friend for sure! I have a Vita Mix; I have never done this in a normal blender, so I don’t know if it will work. My intuition tells me it will, as long as you let the coconut steep.

This makes 8 cups.

1.5 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes (I use Bob’s Red Mill)

7 cups boiling water

Pinch salt, sweetener and vanilla are optional , depending on what you are using it for. You can definitely divide it into two quart mason jars and make one sweet and one plain.

Method: Pour boiling water over coconut in glass or metal bowl. Let steep until mixture is room temperature. Blend until it is very smooth, then strain through cheesecloth or a paint straining bag. Add pinch salt and vanilla/sweetener if desired.

1 cup milk has around 75 calories, 7 grams of fat and 1 gram of protein.

You can use the leftover pulp in baking or veggie burgers.

30 Minute Supermarket Chana Masala (Vegan)

chanamasalaThank you so much for the support on my last post.

I love Indian food! We are lucky to have some really good Indian restaurants in the Boston area and take advantage of them at least several times a month, but the food can be really heavy, so I love to make my own interpretations at home.

Click HERE for my amazing Spicy Tomato Onion Chutney recipe!

This is a super fast dish that will taste like it’s been simmering for a while. I purposely picked ingredients that are available in a regular supermarket. Traditional Chana Masala uses amchor to give it a lovely sour kick. I have replaced the amchor with lemon juice and added lemon zest for a lovely little explosion of flavor in your mouth. When you are cooking food fast, little things like lemon zest and cumin seeds dance around on your palate, which is very satisfying.

To make this a one pot stew, increase the curry powder to 2 tbsp., the salsa to 3 cups, the soy sauce to 3 tbsp., and add a 16 oz. bag of frozen cauliflower when you add the chickpeas. Serve over rice for a full meal. This dish also freezes very well, so feel free to double it and freeze the second batch! Cook once, eat twice! I like to portion my second batch into 1.5 cup servings so I can pull one out whenever I want a fast meal.

30 Minute Supermarket Chana Masala- serves 4

  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 serrano chili pepper, minced, seeds removed if you don’t want heat (omit or add more depending on personal taste.)
  • 8 cloves garlic, pressed
  • Several pinches salt/freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chopped, fresh ginger
  • 2 cups salsa*
  • 1 cup light canned coconut milk (or half cup regular coconut milk mixed with ½ cup water, you can also use full fat if you want)
  •  1 29 oz. can chickpeas (or around 3 cups cooked chickpeas) **
  • Water or vegetable broth as needed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon zest (optional) Tip: peel lemon zest with a peeler, making sure not to get any of the white pith and keep in the freezer.
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

Method:

  1. In a large skillet over medium heat add the oil and spices. Toast spices for 20 seconds or so, then add the onion, serrano and garlic along with a good pinch salt and pepper.
  2. Cook for around 10 minutes, then add the ginger, salsa and coconut milk and chickpeas.
  3. If the mixture looks dry, add some water or broth as needed
  4. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring several times, and adding broth as needed.
  5. Take off heat, stir in soy sauce, lemon juice/zest and cilantro. Taste and adjust seasoning.

*The salsa brings all of the flavors together; allowing the dish to taste like it’s been cooked longer. If you don’t have salsa, you can use canned, crushed tomatoes.

**You can choose to drain the chickpeas or not based on personal preference.

Serve over rice.