Raw Balsamic Zucchini “Pickles”

I really, really hate pickles. I hate them so much that I legitimately worry about my future pregnancy cravings.

Before you even ask, I have a LONG time before that even comes into play!

That’s not to say that during certain times of the month (ahem), there’s nothing I want more than a briny, salty and crunchy snack.

Enter my new favorite summer munchie: raw balsamic zucchini “pickles.”

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All of the tang with none of the actual pickle-ness? (And none of the babies, thank you very much?) I’m in love!

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Raw Balsamic Zucchini “Pickles”

Vegan, Raw, Gluten-Free

Makes two servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1/8 cup light balsamic dressing (such as Newman’s Own)
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Directions:

  • Slice zucchini in half, then into slim spears.
  • In a shallow dish, arrange zucchini slivers and drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle salt over the top, cover and allow to marinate overnight (or longer).
  • Snack your face off (side of ice cream optional)

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I wonder what would come of a zucchini relish…

Do you ever get random cravings for foods you know you dislike? Do you go with it or try to find an alternative?


Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

How shall I put this?

I’m a bit of a…klutz at times. I missed the coordinated gene, but I got more than my fair share of the clumsy one.

I’ve been dying to make my own sushi for ages, but, psychic that I am, I realized that any roll I tried to wrap would likely fall apart before making it to my mouth.

Why not go for the preemptive strike and deconstruct it before I even get it together? 

Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

I took all of the elements of my favorite sweet potato and avocado sushi roll and plopped them into a one-dish dinner! Salty and chewy seaweed, deliciously sticky rice, creamy fresh avocado, lightly crisped sweet potato slivers, zippy wasabi and earthy, tangy soy sauce came together for perfect quasi-Japanese entrée.

dried edible seaweed

Sticky rice is the key here – it makes the dish more than just a grain topped with veggies and soy sauce. Sticky rice requires a lot of rinsing and pre-soaking, and neither step can be skipped without sacrificing the starchy texture. It’s a bit of a pain in the arse to make, but the end result is worth the bazillion steps.

sushi rice, sweet potato and avocado

I love that you can play around with the ingredients to replicate your favorite roll. I designed the recipe as a vegetarian sushi bowl, but crab, salmon or any other sushi ingredient would be equally impressive!

vegetarian sushi bowl

Sweet Potato and Avocado Deconstructed Sushi Bowl

Vegan, Gluten Free, Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (dry) sushi rice. DO NOT sub any other type of rice – it won’t get sticky!
  • 2 cups water (plus more for rinsing)
  • 1/2 large sweet potato
  • 1/2 large avocado (Haas is my preference over California for this dish)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup Mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large strips dried seaweed (I used Lavash)
  • Wasabi and soy sauce to taste

Directions:

  • Pour your Japanese sushi rice into a small bowl and fill to the brim with water. Stir the rice until the water becomes cloudy; drain and repeat 3-4 times until the water runs clear.
  • Fill the bowl up one last time with water and allow the rice to soak for a minimum of 30 minutes (up to 2 hours is ideal).
  • After rice has soaked, bring two cups of water to a rolling boil in a large pot. Drain rice from soaking water and pour rice into boiling water. Cover tightly and cook for one minute.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes, leaving the lid tightly on the pot.
  • Turn heat to very low and continue to cook until all of the water is absorbed.
  • Once the water is absorbed, remove pot from heat, remove lid and loosely drape a towel across the top. Allow to cool for 10-20 minutes.
  • Peel, dice and boil your sweet potato. Once boiled, add sesame oil to a small saucepan, stir in sweet potato chunks and lightly brown until the edges begin to crisp.
  • Cube avocado.
  • In a small dish, stir together mirin, sugar and water. Once your rice is room temperature, gently pour mirin mixture over rice (half at a time) and fold into rice.
  • Stir sweet potato and avocado cubes into rice. Plate and garnish with seaweed strips.
  • Serve chilled, room temperature or warm with your choice of sushi condiments.

sushi bowl

Even though the directions sound slightly complicated, the entire process took me no more than an hour to an hour and a half.

Holy wasabi, was the payoff ever worth it – and so much simpler than wrapping a roll!

sticky rice and veggies

What is your absolute all-time favorite sushi roll? I think I’ve made abundantly clear which one mine is!


Vegan “Summer Barbeque” Salad

I feel like such an old lady this morning – I was wide awake until almost midnight yesterday!

If I mentioned that a kayak found its way into a swimming pool, and I found my way into said kayak, would that give you a better picture of last night’s activities?

Before the ten of us headed to the courts for two rounds of beach volleyball (which left me with little wonder as to why I didn’t make my high school team – heh!), we chowed down! My contribution to the first barbeque of the summer was a vegan (but carnivore-friendly) pasta salad based on one of the few recipes I ever remember my mother making when I was a kid.

vegan pasta salad

I never know what my favorite part is – the spirally noodles, the vegan protein (which is always welcome at what tends to otherwise be a red meat fest), the tangy balsamic or the fresh vegetables for crunch!

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With simple, whole ingredients that everyone will recognize and less than 15 minutes of prep time, it’ll be the only dish you’ll want to bring to the summer barbeques this year!

Vegan “Summer Barbeque” Salad

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

  • 1 box whole wheat rotini (aka curly noodles)
  • 1 can black olives
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped carrots (approximately 15-20 baby carrots)
  • 2 cups red beans (or try kidney beans, pinto beans or garbanzo beans!)
  • Balsamic Viniagrette to taste (I used about half a bottle of Newman’s Own)

Directions:

  • Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta and simmer until tender.
  • Slice your zucchini into small slices. If you like, you can also halve your olives, but I like them whole!
  • In a large bowl, stir together your olives, zucchini, carrots and beans. Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain, rinse and add to the bowl as well.
  • Stir until well mixed; cover with half of your dressing (1/4 bottle of Newman’s Own Light Balsamic in my case) and stir until everything seems evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (overnight is optimal so the dressing can soak into the noodles!)
  • Before you serve, add the remaining dressing, pepper (if desired) and stir once again. Serve chilled!

If you’re lucky, you might get some leftovers for the next day!

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Chocolate Wheat Bran Breakfast Cookie

Good morning!

After months of setting my alarm for six a.m. and successfully snoozing through my morning, I finally dragged my sleepy behind out of bed for an a.m. workout.

Short and sweet was the name of the game! I hopped straight onto the treadmill for a quick and dirty interval run.

Distance Speed
0.00 – 0.10 3 mph
0.10 – 0.20 6 mph
0.20 – 0.30 7 mph
0.30 – 0.40 5 mph
0.40 – 0.50 6 mph
0.50 – 0.60 7 mph
0.60 – 0.70 5 mph
0.70-0.80 6 mph (incline level 2)
0.80 – 0.90 7 mph (incline level 2)
0.90 – 1.00 5 mph (incline level 2)
1.00 – 1.25 8 mph

I did a short cool-down on the elliptical before high-tailing it back to my apartment, where a new breakfast idea had been “cooking” since the night before.

wheat bran breakfast cookie

Even though I’d never tried the Fitnessista’s original breakfast cookie, I knew I wanted to whip up a similar stir-and-chill breakfast for after my workout.

wheat bran breakfast cookie

Ohmahdear.

New. Favorite. Summer. Breakfast.

breakfast cookie with chocolate and berries

Chocolate Wheat Bran Breakfast Cookie

Vegan, high fiber

Serves one

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup vegan milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup oat flour
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate-flavored protein powder of choice
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 1 tablespoon finely sliced almonds
  • 1 tablespoon apple sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Toppings of choice (I used chocolate chips and blueberries)

Directions:

  • Stir all ingredients (except for toppings) together.
  • Spread evenly across a medium-sized plate.
  • Place in refrigerator overnight.
  • In the morning, add toppings and eat!

I polished off the “cookie” and went back for a second serving of fruit.

organic peach

Looks like I ended up with 20 extra minutes at the end of my morning routine – duly noted for tomorrow morning!

When it comes to workouts, are you a morning person or a night owl?


The One Dish You Must Make This Weekend {Spicy Vegan Mac and Cheese}

I don’t trust people who don’t like macaroni and cheese.

vegan macaroni and cheese

If tender, chewy, noodles and warm, gooey, cheese sauce don’t appeal to you, then you, my friend, are beyond my help.

vegan mac and cheese

Before you attempt to justify your macaroni hate by telling me that it’s bland, artificial, low in nutrients and loaded with animal products, heavy ingredients and “bad fats”…allow me to shut down your excuses. This bowl of goodness is entirely vegan and all-natural, and it comes together in less than 30 minutes.

gooey vegan macaroni

Now do you understand why I insist that you make this macaroni dish this weekend?

Spicy Vegan Mac and Cheese

Serves Four

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces Mozzarella-style shredded Daiya (1/2 package)
  • 4 ounces (1/2 tub) Tofutti vegan cream cheese
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups (dry) whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup vegan milk substitute (I used unsweetened plain almond milk)
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  • In a small pot, bring water to a rolling boil and add macaroni. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until pasta is tender.
  • In a small pan, warm olive oil and lightly sauté the red pepper for 5 minutes or until slightly tender.
  • In a large saucepan, bring almond milk to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium high and add in vegan cream cheese and Daiya, stirring continuously until cheeses are completely melted. If your sauce is too thin, add an extra dash of almond milk; if sauce is too thin, increase heat one level and continue stirring until it thickens.
  • Add pasta, sautéed red pepper and spices to the sauce. Stir until evenly combined.
  • Serve warm; drool over the absolute gooiness of this vegan comfort food.

creamy vegan macaroni

This will be the richest, creamiest vegan macaroni ever to pass your lips – and that’s a statement you can trust!

vegan comfort food

Did I mention that it qualifies for Vegetarian on a Budget, costing less than $2 per serving?

Ingredient Cost
Daiya shredded “mozzarella” $4.49/8 ounces = $2.50/4 ounce serving
Tofutti “cream cheese” $3/8 ounces = $1.50/4 ounces
Whole wheat macaroni $3/4 cups = $1.50/2 cups
Almond milk $4/8 cups = $0.50/1 cup
Red pepper $1.00
Olive oil $0.25
Cayenne pepper $0.25
Jalapeno powder $0.25
Salt $0.05
Total Budget Breakdown: $7.85/4 servings = $1.97 per serving

Happy taste buds, happy wallet…Happy Weekend!


Vegan Blackberry Bread

Good morning, and Happy Memorial Day!

I, for one, am completely exhausted after working like a madwoman for weeks and having my face rocked by the Sick Puppies at the House of Blues last night, but for those of you who have the energy to be productive on this gorgeous holiday, do I ever have the perfect recipe for you!

Bonus points if you make an extra blackberry bread loaf to bring to a veteran!

vegan blackberry bread

I’m talking rich, juicy blackberries nestled in a moist, cake-like bread with just the slightest hint of sweetness.

Are you drooling yet, or is it just me?

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Blueberry muffins are so last year!

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Vegan Blackberry Bread

Vegan, gluten-free

Yields two mini loaves

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup soy flour
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/8 cup almond milk (or other vegan milk alternative)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 flax egg (1.5 teaspoons flax meal + 1 tablespoon water)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Combine the flax egg ingredients in a small dish and set in the refrigerator to “gel.”
  • In a large bowl, mix apple sauce and sugar. Stir in vanilla and almond milk.
  • Add in flours, flax egg, salt and baking powder. Stir until well combined.
  • Add blackberries (if berries are large, slice in half before stirring them into the batter). Stir until evenly distributed.
  • Divide the batter between two greased miniature loaf pans.
  • Bake for 35-45 minutes (until knife inserted into center comes out clean). Remove from pans and allow to cool on a baking rack.

blackberry loaf

Poured into a cupcake tin, these could easily become blackberry muffins instead of a blackberry loaf! Then again, they’re beyond delicious just the way they are!

blackberry bread

What are your plans for your Memorial Day? If you’d like to peek at some more delicious vegan desserts, check out Katie’s vegan recipe submission page!


Mini Migration

Good morning guys, and a special hello to any new readers from Healthy Pursuit!

Maple Sweet Potato Quinoa

Want to check out the recipe for my Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Shallots? (And of course, the answer is a resounding YES, you do – it’s delicious!)

Migrate over to Healthy Pursuit to check out my recipe guest post! Leanne is one of the sweetest bloggers I know, and I’m always inspired by her uhmahzing creative and drool-worthy recipes. Check it out!