Monday, March 17, 2014

A Day of Green

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! I have never been a huge celebrator of St. Patrick's Day, but this year I felt inspired to make a menu for the day that included all things green. Usually at this time of year I would be having corned beef and cabbage made by my mom, but since I am vegan now the menu certainly had to change. I had so much fun in the kitchen last weekend coming up with these recipes.

This time last year I was studying abroad in Germany and we all decided to spend the day in Frankfurt drinking beer at the Irish pub by the train station. It was a blast and it was one of the first excursions we took outside of Marburg where we were studying. The pub had these huge towers of beer that we all shared. It was certainly a festive day!

This year I cannot really celebrate because I have school all day so I was inspired to make green recipes over the weekend to make up for my lack of cooking today. I decided to make a delicious green smoothie for breakfast, a raw artichoke and spinach hummus for lunch, and a green-inspired soup with plenty of delicious vegetables for dinner. I love experimenting in the kitchen and these recipes did not disappoint.

Here they are: Banana-Avocado Green Smoothie, Raw Artichoke and Spinach Dip Hummus, and Creamy 3-Veggie Soup. I hope you enjoy!

Banana-Avocado Green Smoothie
Serves 1
1 frozen banana
1 carrot
1 handful spinach
1/2 avocado
1 cup almond milk or water

Place ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. I topped this smoothie with goji berries, cinnamon, and a fresh sprig of mint. It was one of my favorite smoothies to date. Rich and so satisfying, it kept me full throughout the morning.


Raw Artichoke and Spinach Dip Hummus
Serves 1
1/2 cup chickpeas (I used canned)
4-5 olives
1 tsp olive oil
handful spinach
1/2 avocado
3 artichoke hearts, canned
water, as needed to make mixture smooth
pepper, to taste
salt, to taste

This hummus was easy and so healthy. Feel free to add any additional spices you'd like. What is great about this is that it is a great base for customizing it however you'd like. I enjoyed every bite of this with some green pepper and some Mary's Crackers. 

Creamy 3-Veggie Soup with Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

This recipe was fairly spontaneous as I didn't really know exactly what I was going to make. I knew I wanted to make some sort of soup or sauce though. This recipe is great because you can eat it as a soup or spoon it over some veggies or pasta as a sauce (I peeled some zucchini to make some "linguini"). Oh so simple and versatile! My mom and step-dad gobbled it up!

Serves 2-3
1 zucchini 
1 head of cauliflower
3 cups broccoli (I used pre-chopped) 
1 cup almond milk
1-2 cups water
2 artichoke hearts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 tsp pepper
dash 21 seasoning salute or spice mix of your choice
1/2 tbsp fresh Adobo (a mixture of garlic, oregano, salt, and olive oil- a Puerto Rican staple! I will post the recipe soon :) ) If you don't have fresh Adobo, add about a tsp of chopped garlic into the pot, 1/2 tsp of salt, and a 1/2 tsp dried oregano. 

For the soup:
1. Place sunflower seeds in a bowl of water to soak for a minimum of 2 hours and set aside; you will use these later. 
2. Cut the cauliflower and zucchini into pieces. Save half of the cauliflower for roasting. 
2. Place broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, and zucchini in a food processor until chopped finely.
3. Place mixture into a pot with the water and the almond milk. 
4. Add the spices and bring to a low boil.
5. When the mixture begins to boil, turn the flame down to a simmer and cook for about a half hour or until the veggies are tender and the flavors have combined (You may need to add more water while the veggies are cooking)
6. Drain and rinse the sunflower seeds and place into a high speed blender with about 1/4 cup of water (you can add more if the mixture is too thick). Stir this into your soup and then heat the mixture until it is heated through. The sunflower seeds add a creaminess and thickness to the soup.  
7. To make the soup extra creamy, I cooled it off a bit and placed it back into the blender to make it extra smooth. 

Notes: To add a cheesy flavor, add nutritional yeast to taste. I didn't have any, so I left it out. This soup can be enjoyed at any temperature. My mom and step-dad ate it at room temperature and loved it. 

For the Roasted Veggies:
1. Put the chopped cauliflower and the broccoli pieces into a large bowl.
2. Add in 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp 21 seasoning salute, a pinch of thyme, oregano, and 1 tsp garlic powder.
3. Mix the ingredients until all of the veggies are coated with the oil and the spices.
4. Place in a 350F oven for 15 minutes, mix the veggies around, and roast for another 15 minutes until cooked thoroughly.

Serve the soup and top with a tsp of olive oil, some toasted sunflower seeds, and the roasted veggies for some extra veggie power!
Since this soup does not have a main protein, it can be used as an appetizer or you can top it with some roasted chickpeas to add some protein to make it a full meal.

This soup is so simple, nutritious, and creamy, and it is wonderful to know all the ingredients that are in it. I have noticed that it is hard to find soup in the grocery store that does not have sugar or some type of unnecessary ingredient in the list. Making recipes from scratch is the best way to know what is going into your food, without all the processing and added ingredients, which is definitely something to feel good about!

I hope you enjoy these St. Patrick's Day inspired recipes, good for any day of the year :)

Stay tuned tomorrow for a delicious chocolate truffle recipe. These are a can't miss!