Hangover Breakfast Hash

After a late night of celebrating with my now former coworkers, I awoke craving something fried. My fridge was looking a little empty, but I had just enough ingredients to make this delicious and nutrient-rich breakfast hash, which I served alongside oven-roasted potatoes and black coffee. Can you ever really go wrong with potatoes?

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced

2 small sweet potatoes or 1 normal sized, peeled and diced small

1 block of frozen medium firm tofu, thawed, squeezed out and drained, then shredded

2 or 3 big curly kale leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped

roughly 2 Tbs barbecue sauce

salt and pepper to taste

a little oil or cooking spray, optional if you use a good nonstick pan

  1. Heat up your pan with oil, if using, on medium-high, then add the onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown.
  2. Add your sweet potato chunks and let them brown with the onion.
  3. When your sweet potatoes and onion are a little brown and starting to soften, add the shredded tofu and give it a good stir. The tofu will start to brown as the water evaporates. Add salt and pepper.
  4. When the sweet potatoes are soft enough and the tofu is brown, add your kale. Then put a lid on it and let the kale wilt for a couple minutes before uncovering and giving a good stir. Cover again and let the kale cook almost to your desired tenderness.
  5. When your kale is almost where you want it, throw in the barbecue sauce and mix thoroughly. Cook until the flavors have blended a little and the kale is sufficiently wilted for your taste. Adjust salt and pepper, or add more sauce if you prefer. I really think it’s at its best with just a little bit though.

There you have it. Serve with whole grain toast or more potatoes like I did! This would also be great for dinner with side of rice or another cooked grain.

Post-Gluttony Smoothie

I don’t know about you all, but I ate my weight in pie and stuffing this weekend! It was pretty great, but after this long weekend of indulgent fare, I am ready to get back into my good habits again. That means starting my Monday morning off right with a little yoga and a special seasonal green smoothie.

I have a discarded apple from my mother’s awesome centerpiece (they’re turkeys made of apples! I didn’t take a picture!), as well as a good amount of fresh cranberries in the freezer. I bought them not for the sauce potential, but because they’re a healthy treat this time of year. I’ve also got an abundance of lemons due to a special at the local store. It is with these humble ingredients that I bring you this sweet-tart, light, refreshing breakfast.

Ingredients:

1 small apple, or half of a large one (your choice of variety), chopped

1 lemon, juiced

1/3 cup of fresh cranberries, or to taste (they are quite sour)

handful of greens (I had celery and chard)

1 cup cold green tea

1-2 Tbls chia seeds or ground flax seeds

Optional, for sweetness: half a frozen banana or one or two dates

a bit of fresh ginger if you’ve got it, 1/2 tsp powdered if not

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cardamom

And if you are brave, a dash of cayenne!

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

I hope all of you had as delightful a holiday as I did! My manfriend and I spent Thanksgiving day in the country with my family for dinner, then spent the rest of the weekend eating leftovers and snuggling under blankets watching Jessica Jones.

People often ask me what on earth I could possibly eat at a meal centered on a slaughtered bird, but in the 15+ years I have eschewed eating animals, I’ve never gone hungry on this holiday. Most sides can be easily made meatless (stuffing made with vegetable broth, for example), and the rest are mostly vegetables anyway. Since I figured out my sensitivity to dairy, it’s been a little trickier, but we just make the mashed potatoes with almond milk and butter the vegetables with Earth Balance. For a main dish, we used to buy a Tofurkey, but a few years ago my mom started to experiment with making her own seitan-centerpiece for my brother and me. Some of them have been frankly pretty bad, but this year she got it just right! I’ve also brought to the meal a good number of hearty vegan dishes, like last year’s Corn Chowder Quinoa Casserole (from Let Them Eat Vegan!) and this year’s foray into vegan potpie…That recipe is to come! Stay tuned!

 

Simplicity

Just thought I’d share my favorite quick meal with you all: A baked potato (microwaved) topped with steamed spinach (from frozen, also microwaved), and a big scoop of hummus (this one is curry hummus). Topped with a drizzle of sriracha, this is an easy, tasty, healthy meal that anyone can enjoy. Cheap too!

  

Buddha Bowl

This week’s lunch has been the usual improvisation: What do I have, and how can I combine it so it tastes good?

Starting with starches, I almost always have some cooked brown rice on hand, which is the basis for such a wide variety of dishes.

Next come vegetables. I have some basics like carrots and celery, as well as loads of kale (it was on sale!) and some raw beets.

I also need something proteiny and some flavor. My options were a little limited this week as I had only dry beans and no time to cook them, and very few nuts. I do always have peanut butter and some frozen peas, which I think are the most budget-friendly and convenient sources of protein you can get, aside from lentils and split peas which still have to be cooked.

So let’s get cooking! I decided to forgo the peas since I had some in my oatmeal for breakfast, and whip up some peanut sauce. Three birds, one stone: Flavor + protein + healthy fats.

Beets and carrots were quickly run through the grating disk on my food processor and tossed with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a little salt to make my favorite Easy Beet Salad.

I steamed a couple of stemmed and torn leaves of kale in the microwave in my Tupperwave Stack Cooker, but a covered glass or ceramic dish will also do the trick.

I simply layered the kale, brown rice and peanut sauce on a plate (use a big bowl, it will be easier to stir), and put a hefty serving of beet salad on the side, thinking it wouldn’t be great with peanut sauce. I was wrong; it was pretty good with peanut sauce. There you go, beets are a peanut butter food! Also topped the whole mess with some scallions, since onions are both delicious and good for your heart.

 

I ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture.

I ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture.

Since this is lacking a bean or tofu, I wondered what the actual protein content would be, since folks seem to be obsessed with where vegetarians get their protein. Plugged the ingredients into Google, and based on 1 cup each of rice and vegetables, plus two tablespoons of peanut butter, you end up with around 18g of protein, about a third of what a woman my size needs for the day. Not bad, right?

 

PS – I’ve been eating black bean soup for dinner at work all week.  In case anyone wanted the recipe, you can find a version of it here.

Green Paste

Today I whipped up some easy healthy soup to (I hope) make up for next week’s impending birthday cake and Christmas cookie binge. One of my coworkers likes to joke that all I eat is green paste, and I’m certainly not proving her wrong tonight. Here’s what I cobbled together in about thirty minutes today.  It isn’t pretty to look at, but it is pretty tasty.

My ugliest meal yet!

My ugliest meal yet!

Green Paste Soup

Ingredients:
1 medium bunch of kale or other greens, coarsely chopped
1 small can tomato paste
1 can butter beans, drained, or any other white bean
3 small onions, or one giant one, or two mediums, chopped
1 bay leaf
4 or more cloves garlic, peeled
whatever herbs you have hanging around
salt and pepper
2 Tbls soy sauce
1/2c whole wheat couscous

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (about half full). Add bay leaf, onions, garlic. Simmer 10 – 15 minutes.
2. Add kale, herbs, and tomato paste, simmer 10 more minutes.
3. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf, and puree with an immersion blender until smooth.
4. Add beans and turn heat back up to low, adding soy sauce and other seasonings to taste. If it tastes too acidic, add a spoonful of sugar.
5. Dump in the couscous, stir well, turn off the heat and put a lid on it. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until the couscous is tender.

Enjoy!  I garnished it with some pepitas.  It was also good with nutritional yeast and a dash of hot sauce.

Easier Kale Salad for Lazy Busy People, aka Me

I’ve spent so much time singing the praises of Dreena Burton’s Kale Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing from her wonderful book Let Them Eat Vegan (go buy it now.  NOW.)  I’ve served it at countless parties and never once found someone who doesn’t like it (exception being my family because they are weird.  (I love you)).  Die-hard junk foodies and meat-and-potatoes men have gone for seconds of this green ambrosia.  You should make it!  Really really do.

I was going to make it myself yesterday to counteract my weekend junk food binge, but had trouble mustering the energy because I was missing several dressing ingredients.  Plus I didn’t feel like hauling out the food processor or blender.  So I had a great idea.  Over the weekend I picked up some weird “40 spices” hummus at my local inadequate grocery store.  It was pretty strong and I wasn’t crazy about it on my pretzels, but I thought it might be a good sub for the dressing on my kale.  So I thinned it out with some lemon juice (from a bottle!  Please go buy a real lemon.) and other stuff and voila!  Passable dressing.

So here it is. All amounts are approximate because Penny Parsnip doesn’t measure ever.

Lazy Kale Slaw

Ingredients:

1 big bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

couple of carrots, thinly sliced or julienned (or buy pre-shredded carrots like a true lazy person)

4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced (optional)

handful of raisins or craisins

1 apple finely diced or julienned, tossed with some lemon juice

1/2 a small tub of your favorite or least favorite spicy hummus.  I used Tribe 40 Spices hummus.

lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup or honey

assorted dry seasonings like garlic powder, mustard, or dried herbs to jazz it up

1.  Toss the veggies together in a giant bowl.

2.  Whisk the lemon juice or vinegar into the hummus until it is thinned out a bit, adding more to taste.  You want it to still be pretty strong, since it will be clinging to a lot of veggies.  Season to taste, and thin it to about the consistency of a thick bottled ranch dressing, but no thicker than mayonnaise.  Does that make sense?

3.  Pour the dressing over the veg and mix with your hands to distribute it evenly over the greens.  Really massage the leaves so they soften up a bit, and make sure all the small stuff doesn’t sink to the bottom.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you find any interesting combinations.  You could put all kinds of vegetables in; the original recipe calls for fennel.  I often use shredded raw beets.  Some red bell pepper would be good in there, or some nice fresh corn if you can still get it this late in the year.

Wild Plants vs. Everyday Varieties

Wild Plants vs. Everyday Varieties

Here, dietician Jeff Novick and Vegsource.com author Jeff Nelson address a recent New York Times article that claims the produce available in the grocery store is nutritionally inferior to heirloom and wild varieties.

Personally, I think there is probably something to that author’s ideas, but it seems to me that this could just be another way for people to get overwhelmed by healthy eating.  Yes, wild dandelion greens are very nutritious and easily found in your front yard.  I highly recommend adding them to your spring salads.  But that being said, the greens you can get at the local grocer are not devoid of nutrients.  Please do read the linked article regarding iceberg lettuce!

Remember, eating well doesn’t have to be complicated.  Take small steps if that’s all you feel you can do right now.  Eventually those small steps add up.

In other news, I moved to Pittsburgh!  I’m staying with some wonderful, generous friends while looking for a job and apartment.  When I’m more settled, I’ll get the recipe content back in full swing, and maybe tell you a bit about my new home.  Thanks for sticking around, friends!

Irish Colcannon Casserole

I just made this delightful casserole for a friend and myself. I made a few minor substitutions, but what a bargain it was to cook up! An entire 5lb bag of potatoes (used 2lb) cost me about $2, a head of cabbage (used 1/4 head) $2, head of broccoli used instead of kale was $1.75, and Trader Joe’s tempeh $2. So I made the whole thing for about $7-$8, and I’m sure to get at least 3 more meals out of it. Highly recommended!

Creamy Beans and Barley aka Accidentally Delicious

I overcooked some beans.

Yes, I know what you must be thinking, “Penny Parsnip made a mistake?  Inconceivable!”

And you’re right.  There are no mistakes, only happy accidents.  I fortunately accidentally ignored my pressure cooker full of black-eyed peas and cooked them into black-eyed mush.  Intending to figure out what to do with them sometime after baking three dozen chocolate-peanut butter cupcakes, I scarfed some down pre-party with leftover sushi rice and a little soy sauce and Slap Ya Mama.  DELICIOUS.  So creamy!  I knew I had something right here, so the next day, this dish was born.

Ingredients

1/2 lb black-eyed peas, soaked and cooked until mushy (10-15 mins in a pressure cooker, or several hours without one)

1/2 lb pearled barley

Vegetable broth or water, probably 4-8 cups (Happy accidents don’t get measured.)

2 medium onions, diced

1 large bell pepper (red or green), diced

6 or more cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 small bunch of turnip greens, chopped (or mustard, beet, spinach, kale, chard, etc) OR use a box of frozen ones

Seasonings:  salt, pepper, cayenne, thyme, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce.  I measured none of these.  Sorry (sort of).

1.  Combine the cooked beans and their thick broth, the barley, and veg broth/water in a great big pot.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 mins or so.  Use this time to chop things.

2.  Add chopped onions, garlic, and bell pepper.  Continue to simmer until barley is tender and vegetables are soft, probably another 20-30mins.  Season to taste.

3.  Continue simmering until the mixture is getting thick and creamy.  Stir in the greens, put a lid on it, and let it sit for a few minutes until they wilt.  Give it a good stir and taste to adjust seasonings, or cook a little longer if the greens are too chewy for you.

Serve with additional hot sauce, vinegar, or some nutritional yeast.  I just ate it for breakfast with some chopped avocado mixed in.  Yum yum yum.  There are no mistakes in the Penny Parsnip kitchen!

Black Bean Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Collards

This is a hearty, nourishing stew that is perfect for a cold winter day.

Ingredients:

1 lb or so of dry black beans, soaked and cooked, cooking liquid reserved (I removed about 2 cups of cooked beans to store in the freezer for another day)

2 big sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 or 3 medium onions, chopped

5-10 cloves garlic (you can leave them whole or mince/crush)

1 bunch of collard greens, stemmed (keep the stems!) and chopped

2 bell peppers, any color, seeded and diced

1 small can tomato paste

Seasoning suggestions:  bay leaf, oregano, cumin, cilantro, cayenne, fresh hot peppers, etc.  A squeeze of lime is nice for serving, too.

1.  Start with your cooked beans simmering in their own broth.  Add garlic, onion, bay leaf, and any other dried seasonings you choose to use.  Save fresh herbs for the end.  Keep it simmering while you chop other things.

2.  Finely mince the stems from the collards.  I did this by putting them into the food processor whole and pulsing until they were in little tiny bits.  I also threw the onions and half the garlic with them, but that’s because I’m lazy, not because it’s necessary.  Feel free to chop everything by hand if you are less lazy than me, or don’t have a food processor.

3.  Add the sweet potatoes, minced stems, and tomato paste to the pot.  You may need to add a little more water at this point too.  Simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft and flavors have melded, 10-20 mins.  Taste and adjust the seasonings, then add the peppers and simmer some more.

4.  Steam the collard leaves until bright green and tender, or if you have a big enough pot (I don’t), just throw them in the soup with the peppers and cook until they wilt.  Add any fresh herbs once all the vegetables are soft.  Serve the stew over the steamed greens and garnish with some hot sauce and nutritional yeast, or a squeeze of lime or a dash of apple cider vinegar.

I like this soup because there’s so little waste.  Why throw those stems away?  When I make collards or kale on their own, I always chop up the stems and saute them with the onions, so I thought, “Why can’t I put them in the soup too?”  The results are delicious, and I hardly had to put any scraps in the garbage.  Bonus of extra fiber!