Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper Soup

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Recipe: Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Original Author: Isa Chandra Mozkowitz
Book: Appetite For Reduction

While I have a policy against posting copyrighted content myself, I’m not opposed to linking to a blog in which someone else has done that. It may not be strictly ethical, but my hope is that by doing so I can drive people to buying the book a recipe came from.

I can’t stress enough how wonderful Appetite for Reduction is as a health-conscious cookbook. The recipes are all delicious and, of course, vegan, but most importantly they are all very healthy. I may not cook from it quite as much as Isa Does It or Vegan With a Vengeance, but is nevertheless a staple.

The above recipe, Ceci-Roasted Red Pepper Soup, is to die for. The link I provided appears identical ( at a quick glance ) to the version from the cookbook. Delicious as it is, I would recommend adding a teaspoon of basil – what is a red pepper soup without basil, right?

If you like roasted red peppers or chickpeas, this is the soup for you.

State of the Blog Update

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As you are no doubt well aware, The Nerdy Kitchen hasn’t updated in months. I fell off the updating wagon in a big way and for that I apologize.

That said, I had a good reason initially. My kitchen had gotten destroyed by ( of all things ) a vehicle hitting my home for a second time in 3 years. The whole kitchen had to be gutted and restored and it was during the restoration that I was unable to cook. No cooking meant no inspiration for updates, and thus I lost the motivation to update the blog.

Since then, I have made a poor attempt at making time to post but I hope to rectify that in the very near future. I love cooking and good eating and want to share that passion with whomever is interested. To that end, The Nerdy Kitchen will return!

Wrap Filler Recipe

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The raw ingredients for this particular incarnation of the wrap filler.

When we first started to eat better, my husband and I started keeping various pre-cut vegetables stocked in our fridge. Typically this involved onions, mushrooms, peppers, cucumbers and others that kept well. Often, these vegetables would be used alongside some form of leafy greens.

It made for some tasty lunches and suppers, though eventually we picked up some asparagus and got it in our heads to fry that along with our usual fresh vegetables. Initially, we fried this purely with hot sauce, though, our methods have since been refined so that we omit the sauce and fry with a combination of vegetable broth and various spices.

I don’t tend towards using strict measurements for anything, but I’ve provided what I could in order to help make something of this recipe. The below ‘measurements’ make enough for two adults to use in wraps for a better part of a week. Keep in mind that the filler is in addition to whatever else you might fancy in a wrap, such as a leafy green, eggs, raw vegetables ( such as cucumber! ), olives, etc.

My wrap of choice for this recipe is the Dempster’s Ancient Grain tortilla. I almost always pair it with sliced garlic-stuffed olives, Blair’s Original Death Sauce, and baby spinach.

Ingredients List

1 red/orange bell bepper, minced
1 red onion
2 lbs asparagus, trimmed & cut on bias
2-3 portobello mushroom caps
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz can chick/black-eyed peas or pinto/navy beans

To taste: garlic salt, paprika, oregano, basil, salt

Fry the peppers, onions, and mushrooms in as much vegetable broth as is needed to keep them from burning. Once the vegetables have softened, add the asparagus, beans, and any remaining ingredients and fry until the asparagus is cooked ( but not soggy!)

The seasonings tend to go by taste as well as whim. I add these at any point during cooking; the presence of vegetable broth helps keep them from burning, though be careful not to add too much of any one thing. The idea is to impart some flavor to the vegetables without overpowering them; this is to allow you freedom in your choice of condiment when you assemble your wraps.

If I’m in the mood for something spicier, I’ll add in some red pepper flakes or even some fresh jalapenos or scotch bonnets if we have any on hand.

Please note: I didn’t use beans in the wrap filler depicted in the photos; with the addition of an extra bell pepper, as well as some jalapeno and scotch bonnets, I elected to skip on the beany goodness. The wrap filler tends to last well in the fridge but doesn’t do go super far if there’s too much food for my husband and I to get through.

PPK – Marbled Banana Bread

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Recipe: Marbled Banana Bread
Author: Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Yes, I’ve posted a lot about Isa’s vegan recipes. What can I say? Her food and wit are to die for. Case in point, this marbled banana bread. Not only does it look simply divine ( look at those cocoa swirls! ), when you use ripe bananas ( as I had in my first attempt ) it has a wonderful flavor.

This is a fairly simple recipe to put together. The only ‘complicated’ part comes from putting a cup of the batter aside to mix with 3 tablespoons cocoa, which itself had been mixed with 3 tablespoons of boiling water. Nothing over the top but definitely a departure from other banana bread recipes I’ve made.

This recipe does have sugar: 3/4 cup to be exact. I may cut that down to 1/2 cup for my next go at it to see if I can get away with less.

I made two attempts at this delectable treat this week; the first was an utter flop for reasons that shall remain a mystery. My second attempt, pictured above, was made with fresh rather than ripe bananas, which runs contrary to the recipe’s recommendation. Of course the best banana flavor comes from very ripe bananas, but I’d promised banana bread to my my two year old son and had to make do with what I had on hand. Luckily the bread still came out quite tasty, if light on banana flavor.

Of Healthy Eating and Deliciousness

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NOTE: This has been told in one fashion or another in two other places: on my Facebook and Tumblr accounts. I rewrote it for inclusion here to give readers a sense of where I’m coming from when I talk about food and healthy eating as most would not be privy to my personal social media accounts.

Something that I try not to push in people’s face, though am asked about regularly regardless, is my decision in May 2015 to start eating healthier. My husband, Devin, had grown concerned with his weight and unhealthy eating habits. He approached me about the idea of substantially increasing our vegetable intake and reducing our meat consumption.

This was inspired in part by the weight loss of Penn Jillette, our son’s namesake, as well as  the 125th episode of the podcast Matt and Mattingly’s Ice Cream Social ( Direct Download. ) We didn’t follow Penn’s diet, as that was too extreme for our needs. The podcast was of particular importance to me, however. I listened to it one Saturday or Sunday afternoon as I cleaned out a spare fridge we’d had on hand down in our basement. As I scrubbed that old fridge top to bottom I took in the discussion, which drove home the inescapable fact that I had a broken relationship with food.

I wasn’t eating because I needed it. I ate because I loved the taste of food and couldn’t help myself. Social gatherings? Heck yes, I ate. Bored or doing something somewhat mindless? Chips and snacks, ahoy! Did it have meat and copious amounts of cheese?! I definitely inhaled those, too, and I felt like crap after practically every meal. I ate because I was trained to eat, through habit, social expectation, and learned cravings, not because my body needed fuel. And that there’s the key – fuel is the reason our bodies require food.

Needless to say, I leaped at the chance to join my husband. We started by immediately cutting back our portion sizes – where before we’d have a full plate of mostly meat or heavily processed foods and inhale it until we were full to bursting, only to start with the snacks a mere 1.5 – 2 hours later, we began to eat more slowly, eat more fresh foods and vegetables, and cut back the amounts to the point where we ate only until we were satisfied. We weren’t starving ourselves, only taking care and ensuring we ate foods that provided us with the maximum amount of nutrients per portion. This naturally led to cutting down on snacking, as by the time our usual snack window came around, we weren’t hungry or craving anything.

Fresh, already-chopped vegetables became the norm in our refrigerator. We invested in some good quality lock-top tupperware containers. Each week we would chop up fresh peppers, onions, cucumbers, and any other vegetables that tickled our fancy and store them in those containers. We would use these in salads ( alongside dried raisins, hemp hearts, and raw nuts ) or in wraps, with minimal dressing drizzled on top. This would later inspire us to whip up a weekly wrap filler consisting of cooked ( in vegetable broth ) asparagus, legumes ( black eyed peas/chick peas/navy beans ), mushrooms, peppers, garlic, and various spices.

We invested in some vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, as our recipe library at the time consisted of a lot of cheese and meat heavy recipes. In the books we picked up we found numerous flavorful, easy to make, and predominantly healthy recipes that served to provide us with meals that not only were better for us but which we actively looked forward to making and eating. I’d once feared that by reducing my meat, dairy and fat intake that I would lose all the flavor I’d come to love; this turned out to be so false it isn’t even funny. The food I cook now is just as flavorful as what I’d been eating before and, surprisingly, I don’t miss out on the unhealthy foods I used to eat.

I went from being a self-professed meatitarian to something much, much healthier. I’d probably classify myself as a nutritarian, as described by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I may not follow his recommendations to the letter, but through the above inspirations as well as Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” book, I discovered the tools I needed to repair my broken relationship with food and get back to being a healthier me. Over the course of the past 8 months, I’ve achieved my goal and feel better than ever. And yes, I still do allow myself occasional indulgences such as a small piece of birthday cake, or a rare bowl of ceasar salad. Those just aren’t the norm anymore.

It should be noted that this isn’t a fad or gimmicky diet; it’s a permanent lifestyle change. Now that I’ve gotten to a healthier point, I’m not going to go back to old eating habits. I will continue to make healthy choices. I want to be here for a long time for my husband and my son.

Hot for Food – Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

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Recipe: Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
Author: hot for food

As someone formerly famous among her circle of friends for inhaling chicken wings, my curiosity was piqued after seeing a friend share it on my Facebook News Feed. Could I truly satisfy my love of buffalo wings without the unhealthiness that tends to go along with them?

The answer, friends, is a resounding YES. These “Cauliflower Buffalo Wings” are to die for.

The batter cooks up nice and crispy ( and on its own possesses a tasty flavor ) and is perfect for the buffalo sauce to coat. Speaking of, as I don’t yet have any vegan butter on hand, when I make the sauce I substitute with regular butter and sometimes even margarine. Both work well and at only 1 tbsp don’t add too much badness to the recipe.

I have always made this recipe with Franks Hot Sauce, as recommended. I haven’t yet tried the provided Salt and Vinegar Sauce recipe, as I’m loathe to break away from my hot saucy goodness, but I do plan to try it in the future.

Family Recipe – Caesar Salad Dressing

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1 Egg Yolk
1 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp Hot Mustard
3/4 cup Vegetable Oil
4 cloves garlic, minced

Separate the egg yolk from the white and place in a small bowl. Whisk red wine vinegar, hot mustard, and minced garlic together. Slowly pour the vegetable oil into the bowl and whisk with the other ingredients until everything is well combined and creamy.

I cannot stress enough the slow part of the pouring; if you add the oil too quickly, the dressing won’t reach the creamy consistency needed.

This recipe pairs well with freshly cooked chopped bacon ( garlic bacon being my preference ) and garlic calabrese croutons. Considering the ingredients, this isn’t the healthiest dressing and I certainly don’t recommend eating it every day, but I admit that it is a delicious indulgence.

Standard caution about using raw eggs applies to this recipe. I’m not the original author of this recipe; it was handed down to me from my mother, who in turn got it from her youngest sister.

PPK – Chickpea Picatta

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Recipe: Chickpea Picatta (Bonus: Caulipots )
Author: Isa Chandra Moskowitz

As a rule, chickpeas rank among my favorite things to eat. I’ve been known to munch on them directly from the can.This recipe easily satisfied my craving for those delectable legumes while adding a nice lemon and wine flavored twist.

The Chickpea Piccata ( linked above ) is a very quick ( and thus perfect for weeknights ) recipe. Prep didn’t take long at all and each individual cooking step was relatively short. The shopping list is nice and inexpensive, containing ingredients that are easily available at your local grocery store for reasonable prices.

Isa recommends serving this over an arugula and mashed potato combination. She also suggests her Caulipots recipe as an option. I didn’t make mashed potatoes ( or caulipots ) so I substituted with some whole wheat penne which ended up being an excellent choice.

Key Ingredients: Chickpeas, arugula, capers, white wine, shallots.

Chilly Chiles

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Website: http://chillychiles.com/
Shipping: Free in Ontario & Quebec for orders over $75 CAD.

I’m a big fan of hot sauces, specifically Blair’s Death Sauces which aren’t easily obtainable where I live without resorting to online shopping. Luckily Chilly Chiles, a business located in Southern Ontario, offers the hot sauces I need at very reasonable prices.

As noted above, shipping is free on orders over $75 CAD. First time I ordered, they shipped within the same day and it arrived at my doorstep that same week. I was very impressed with the packaging the bottles came in; sturdy cardboard for both the box itself and the separators within. Care was certainly taken to ensure that the glass wouldn’t break.

The package came with a free sample of a different hot sauce than the one I’d ordered. Sadly, that sauce wasn’t quite to my liking, but I’m a big fan of samples as they’re a fantastic way to get exposed to sauces you might not otherwise have thought to try.

Chilly Chiles is a fantastic business if you’re at all into hot sauces. Definitely recommend ordering from them.

 

DavidsTEA – Buttered Rum Black Tea

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Tea: Buttered Rum
Manufacturer: DavidsTEA
Type: Black
Key Flavors: Coconut, vanilla beans, butterscotch flavoring
Find it Online: http://www.davidstea.com

When I was younger, my parents used to buy these “books” of assorted Lifesavers to put in my stocking. My favorite flavor ( of which there was only ever one roll in the book ) was Butter Rum. To this day, that has remained a favorite flavor of mine.

Fast forward to my 2015 re-introduction to DavidsTEA teas. It didn’t take me long to discover a Buttered Rum black tea and, inspired by my love of that one Lifesaver flavor, add it to my shopping cart.

I absolutely love black tea. Discovering one that was flavored with butterscotch, coconut, and vanilla was like winning the jackpot. The tea doesn’t quite live up to my Lifesaver-inspired expectation, but that’s understandable given the difference between candy and tea.

It is nevertheless delicious and ranks among my favorite teas. I have a tin of it both at home and at work.If you find yourself at a DavidsTEA location or fancy ordering some online, I definitely recommend it.