Raw Chocolate-Almond Pie

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I made this amazing chocolate-almond pie for a party the other day and OMG, it was so delicious. It happened to be a raw, BEEgan dessert, but no one had any idea and I didn’t tell them until they were eating it and begging for the recipe. It’s just your classic almond/date/cocoa crust filled with almonds, coconut oil, honey and more cocoa..  the sauce was coconut oil, honey, and cocoa and a bit of coffee.

Raw desserts are so much easier than baked desserts! I forgot how much I love making them. I used to make them daily at one of my jobs..  One of my favorites was making a beautiful raw carrot/coconut cake..  It’s been a while since I’ve made one. That is a little harder to pull off as a “normal” dessert, so it will have to be for people who are open to experimenting.

 

Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas

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I’ve been having so much fun with my tortilla press. Fresh corn tortillas are the best! I use masa, water, and a tiny pinch of salt. I cook them in my cast iron. I used to make them years ago when I was married and raising my kids, but stopped… and now I will not go back!

The above picture was my breakfast the other day.. I am in love with the Costco Sweet Kale Chopped Salad Kit. It’s a mixture of broccoli (stems), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and chicory. It comes with both pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries, which I use in other applications (like Granola!).. and a dressing which I don’t use at all. It’s so convenient to just grab a handful of delicious veggies for salads, sandwiches, stir fries..

I topped the tortilla with some spicy TVP based chili. I used my “quick mole” and homemade salsa to flavor the chili along with onions, garlic, peppers, and jalapenos.

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The Boyfriend enjoyed this chili on top of a hot dog… which is fine with me! I’m glad I can get plant-based goodness into him.. and he loved it!

I digress; back to my meal! I topped the tortilla with my chili along with the greens, homemade salsa.. and served it with a side of slow cooked pintos. The salsa was a cooked salsa… with jalapenos, garlic, onion, culantro, cumin, coriander, lime juice and canned diced tomatoes. The culantro is such a great alternative to cilantro! Much stronger and so packed with flavor.

It was, of course, very hot and spicy because I never seed the chilies I work with. (If I am cooking for myself).. when I cook for clients or restaurants, I seed them!

 

 

 

Spicy Ethiopian Lentils

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One of the ways I can eat amazing, 30 minute meals is by making a big pot of lentils or other beans. I usually boil up a pound of them at a time; freeze half of the cooked legumes in 1 cup portions, and eat the rest over a period of a 5 days or so.

For this dish, I toasted some spices on a bit of coconut oil, the added cooked lentils, homemade salsa and veggies; cooked for 10 minutes or so and then topped it with fresh tomato, onion, and cilantro. The salsa gives it a “cooked all day” taste, and it is really easy to make a meal for one. I’m a fan of eating spicy curries for breakfast… it’s a great way to start the day!

My Ethiopian spice mix is amazing. It contains 17 spices. We make it in big batches.. since I use a lot of it!

 

Smoky Walnut-Nutritional Yeast

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I’m not quite sure how to to describe this deliciousness? It definitely hits cheesy notes when you add it to certain foods. I use it like you would Parmesan. If you like savory, smoky, umami taste like me, then you will love this!

I used toasted walnuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder,smoked paprika,and oat fiber pulsed together in my food processor. The oat fiber was there for texture; the pulsed nuts and oat fiber create a lovely crumble I love. I also just happen to have a lot of oat fiber. You can leave it out or add some golden flax meal

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I made this over the top flavor bomb of a sandwich with leftover smoked tofu, Costco kale/Brussels sprout salad (sans the dressing and nuts/seeds), avocado,onion, Dijon and some of my homemade vegan mayo.

Pickle Me!

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Oh how I love to refrigerator pickles! (Fermented pickles are even better!).. When I have some veggies I need to use, pickles are one of the first things I think of.

As you all know, I love heat, so it’s rare I will pickle something without it. For this batch, I used Carrot, Daikon, Jalapeno, Onion, and Turmeric. I made a simple brine out of sea salt, water, and vinegar, threw in a couple bay leaves, coriander seeds, and peppercorns. It’s a lovely little bit of spicy deliciousness that will compliment many meals…  try some on sandwiches, or in a salad! I love hummus and pickles together. Later today, I’m making some Hummus with Caramelized Onions and Smoked Paprika… I can’t wait to make a little appetizer plate with the pickled veggies, hummus and homemade pita chips for The Boyfriend and I to enjoy when he comes home from work tonight.

 

How I have been able to cook meat professionally.

DSC_0088*EDIT*

I have received a very valid question from a reader and that is, “If you don’t want drama, why are you putting up a controversial post?”

Great questions and I appreciated you asked. For those of you who follow me on Instagam , you may have noticed that I occasionally post pictured of meat dishes I cook for 570 and I just wanted to explain that. I may also, in the future post more meat meals that I make for the BF under #allcaneat when I am making food for different eaters. I may even blog about it, because there are a lot of families and couples who may have different types of eaters, and I have talked to people who said they would be plant-based eaters, but couldn’t cook two different meals everyday. I want to show those people that it is possible, with some simple steps, to create quick plant-based meals for themselves as well as food for their meat eaters. So, I just wanted to explain myself a bit so people understand my point of view.

*END EDIT*

What it’s like for a lifelong vegan leaning vegetarian to cook meat for restaurants and clients?

So, I was raised a vegetarian and spent years as a vegan. The first time I had to cook meat professionally was when I was the Chef at Old Vines Wine Bar in Kennebunk, ME. I explained to the owner that I would not be tasting the food, and as long as he or one of the servers whose palate I trusted tasted the food before serving, I would be OK doing it.

It was kind of like a “fake it till ya make it” deal. During my time there, I became more comfortable touching and cooking poultry, red meat, and seafood, and the customers loved my food, so that always feels good. The clientele at this place was VERY DIFFERENT from clientele I had served before. Funny story, my Chocolate Ganache Cake was entirely vegan as was my Chocolate-Mocha Pie, but I had to SWEAR to my boss I would not tell the customers (unless they asked for whatever reason.) He was so utterly ashamed and embarrassed to have his diners think they were eating tofu in their desserts! No one ever asked, except for the occasional vegan who of course, was THRILLED!

I digress. So, after the wine bar, I went back to what I’m most passionate and comfortable with. Creating amazing vegan food! I worked as the Chef/Kitchen Manager at Portsmouth Health Food store in Portsmouth, NH. I also became obsessed with gluten free – vegan baking and went back to creating so many recipes for muffins, cakes, brownies, pies and other desserts, as well as continuing my love affair with creating Raw – Vegan meals and desserts which was what I was doing before the Wine Bar at Blue Moon Café (now Blue Moon Evolution) in Exeter, NH.

Up until this point (2011) all of my personal chef clients wanted vegan food.

I moved to Boston and exchanged chef services for a room in the heart of the city. My roommate ate meat, and it was hard for me to cook it, because I couldn’t taste it, so I googled a bit about cooking techniques for home cooking, and put it to use. She loved my food as well and appreciated all of the plant-based goodness I brought to the table. Meat was definitely more of a condiment in her house.

During this time, I started working as a Personal Chef for a (Pakistani) family. Auntie (the matriarch mother/grandmother who lived with them) was very strict about meat preparation. It was always Halal meat and we only bought it from one market she trusted. I had to jump through many loops with this meat to please her and pleasing her was very necessary, because she needed a break from all the cooking she did, but she wanted to make sure her methods were being used when it came to cooking the meat. That meant removing ALL of the blood from chicken bones which was done with a tool from a nutcracking set. There was also strict protocol when it came to red meat as well.

I won’t lie, it was difficult for me to handle the meat so much, but knowing I was helping Auntie relax and enjoy life (very much deserved, may I add) allowed me to just accept it and put good energy into the task. I knew that I was nourishing her family in the way she has done for decades and how much that meant and it actually turned into a divine service task for me.

Around this time I met The Boyfriend who is a voracious carnivore! Fortunately, he also loves veggies and legumes and will eat almost anything I prepare, but he needs his meat, so I began to feel the urge to cook meat for him. I look back on my marriage and feel really bad for my x-husband. I did not allow meat in the house and he was also a meat lover. I’m sure it made him feel not very taken care of or respected, but I just couldn’t get past my revulsion and fear of germs when it came to having meat in the house… but back to The Boyfriend. I started experimenting with cooking methods and recipes and he is brutally honest, so he was able to guide me when it came to seasoning. I am now quite proud of myself that I can season meat correctly through the same intuitive process I cook all of my food!

So, fast forward to my Five Seventy job in Boston. I am responsible for cooking all of the meat AND creating all new recipes for meat dishes. I have very strict sanitation rules (definitely stricter than is necessary) when it comes to preparing meat, and that makes me feel better about it as well. I admit, I get a little thrill about putting out great meat dishes because I never taste them.. And really go by intuition.

I use a method for a lot of meat dishes, where I make a vegan sauce and get it exactly perfect, then I use that sauce for both tofu and chicken or pork. Most of the side dishes are vegan, so I just need to change the protein.

DSC_0092I do this at home too. In fact, on Friday I bought a 7 lb. boneless pork loin (on sale at Costco for $11.50!) and cut pork chops, a roast, and cut a bunch into stew pieces which I have marinating. I flash froze everything but the marinating pieces which I will cook in the slow cooker for The Boyfriend. The rest of the meal will be vegan: kale/cabbage/Brussel sprout slaw, guacamole, chipotle black beans and brown rice along with my homemade salsa. I’m fine eating the rice and beans for my protein source, and The Boyfriend will appreciate his leftover which I will pack for a lunch or two. Basically I will get 20 meals for him out of this pork loin.

I never thought I would be able to be 100% comfortable handling/cooking meat, but I am. I am a little strange though, because I talk to the meat like it’s a live animal and try to put loving energy and thanks to the animal. In the future, I think I will look into a farm share of meat from a farm I can tour.

I share my love of vegan food with meat eaters all the time and I love it the most when customers come and talk to me about how much they love my plant-based meals even though they aren’t even a vegetarian. One man bought my Tofu Curry Dinner because he had my Chicken Curry Dinner and loved it so much and came back and said he preferred the tofu dinner! I was so happy to hear that.

People I love eat meat. They are not bad people. I wonder if I hadn’t been raised a strict vegetarian if I would have liked meat? It has never appealed to me, and still doesn’t, so for me not eating meat is not a big deal. It’s not even considered “food” to me (for myself) when I’m cooking it for others.

I’m sure this will anger a lot of people, and if it does, then feel free to never visit my blog again. Anyone who starts drama or verbally abuses me will be banned.