Monthly Archives: October 2011

Vegan Quinoa-Stuffed Acorn Squash

I recently stopped by my favorite fruit and vegetable stand  to pick up a few things for dinner. I had glanced at a few recipes earlier in the day for stuffed acorn squash and knew I had most of the ingredients at home, so I just picked up two acorn squash, an onion, some mushrooms, some herbs and hoped for the best. Of course, I didn’t get around to making it, so when I had to run to my hometown this weekend I brought all the ingredients with me so I would have some “real” vegetarian food to eat while I’m here. I made it quickly when I got into town and, thanks to my early-riser nephews, I  have time to write this blog this morning.  🙂

There were several recipes for stuffed acorn squash that sounded good. Usually I end up combining several recipes, but when I came across this one on Healthy Crush: A Love Affair with Living Well, I realized I had all of the ingredients, so I decided  to make it verbatim.

This would be a great recipe for vegan Thanksgiving — it’s beautiful, it looks like fall and it tastes great. AND, there is a ton of extra filling so any meat-eaters could try it — it’s already gotten the thumbs up from 5 meat-eaters who tasted it last night. This recipe proves that eating healthy and eating vegan don’t have to be boring or bland.

Ingredients
• 2 large acorn squash
• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• sea salt and pepper to taste
• 2 c. quinoa, uncooked
• 1 med. yellow onion
• 4 cloves of garlic
• 1 c. chopped mushrooms (any variety)
• 1 pkg. organic tempeh or 1 c. chickpeas
• 1 c. chopped fresh basil
• 2/3 c. raisins (I used golden)
• 2/3 c. pine nuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or sunflower seeds (I had pepitas on hand, so I went with those — I think walnuts would be good too)
• A few splashes of soy sauce or tamari
• A sprinkle of cayenne (mom’s not into heat, so she didn’t have any and I didn’t bring my own — so I omitted)
• A sprinkling of chopped fresh sage (I imagine jarred rubbed sage would be just fine too)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out seeds. Place in oven-proof baking dish face up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes.

2.  While the squash is baking — make the stuffing! First prepare quinoa according to package directions. Place 2 c. quinoa with about 4 c. water (I always do just under — maybe 3 1/2-3 3/4 c. water). Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until all water is absorbed.

3. Dice/chop onions, mushrooms, garlic and tempeh and or chickpeas (I used tempeh because I had it on hand) and saute with a tiny bit of oil and a few splashes of soy sauce in a large saute pan. I actually started with the onions and garlic, then added in the mushrooms and tempeh. I sprinkled with salt and pepper, tasted and adjusted — adding a bit more soy sauce.

4. Add cooked quinoa to mixture and mix well. It seems like a lot — and it is. But the ratio ends up working really nicely together.

5. Add raisins, basil and nuts to the mixture.

6. At this point, the acorn squash should be just about done. (It really was perfect timing). Overfill with the mixture — I piled it as high as I could without it spilling over. If you’re aren’t vegan, Healthy Crush recommends topping with some goat cheese. I imagine feta or parm would be pretty good to. Place back in oven for 15 more minutes. The squash should be beginning to brown a bit and everything should be heated through.

7. Sprinkle with chopped/rubbed sage and dig in! There will be tons of stuffing leftover, but it’s delicious on its own too. If you like, the mixture will freeze easily for you to eat as a side dish another time.

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Simple Butternut Squash Soup

This soup or a variation of it has become a fall staple in my house. It had been a while since I’d made it, but a client of mine handed over a couple of giant squashes so I got to work!

Get a loaf of crusty Italian bread and you barely even need a spoon.  This can be vegan or not — depending on what kind of stock, butter, etc. you use. It really is simple and delicious. You can doctor it up in any way you like — maybe add a little curry for kick. Add extra spices or herbs to it.  This is a hard one to mess up!

Ingredients
• 1 butternut squash (2-3 pounds), peeled and seeded
• 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (I go with Earth Balance Buttery Spread, any variety)
• 1 medium onion, chopped/diced
• 6 c. vegetable stock OR (what I prefer) about 3 c. stock and 1 can coconut milk
• Nutmeg
• salt and pepper

1. Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. You can always buy frozen or pre-cut butternut squash (sweet potatoes would work here too, by the way), but I don’t find it all that difficult to peel. I just cut it in half or into manageable pieces, then slice off the skin with a good, sturdy knife. From there I slice and chop in various ways to try to make roughly 1- to 2-inch cubes.  It’s all getting pureed eventually, so no need to be exact. You just want it small enough that it will cook easily and quickly.

2. Melt butter in pot. May use half butter and half oil if you like, too.

3. Add onion and cook until translucent. I think I may have added a clove or two of minced garlic at this point as well. Now is also when I would add a little curry paste or powder if I were using it.

4. Add squash and stock (I believe the stock was covering the chunks appropriately, so I held off on adding the coconut milk until later).

5. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

6. Remove squash chunks with a slotted spoon and puree in a blender. OR you can go the easy way — like me — and use your handy immersion blender. I use this regularly for soups, so I think it’s definitely worth the investment. I was given a Cuisinart one, which you can get for about $25 on Amazon.

7. Return squash to pot if you used regular blender. Add coconut milk until well blended, then stir and season with a few dashes of nutmeg and the salt and pepper.

8. Heat through and enjoy! This soup only takes about 30 minutes to make and is oh, so comforting. This one is totally doable even for those of you who “can’t” cook. Give it a try!

Raw Vegan Spicy Walnut Burgers with Onion Bread and Ketchup

This is going to be a monster post, but I just have to do these recipes together — it just makes sense. I’m a personal chef and have been preparing food almost weekly for a raw vegan client for six months. I’m happy to say for three straight months she was able to be 100 percent raw with my help and feels great! The rest of the time, when traveling or on vacation, she eats vegan, but has noticed a big difference in her energy levels and how she feels when she falls off of the raw wagon.

As with most of the food I make for clients, I try to taste everything I make. Not only have I gotten into eating raw when I can (i.e. make the effort), but I’ve started eating at some great area raw restaurants (like Red Pepper Deli in Northville, Cacao Tree Cafe in Royal Oak  and The Raw Cafe in Detroit).

A favorite of my client are these spicy walnut burgers and onion bread, so I decided to make them at the recent (Un)Cooking Club night with a raw theme. Everything the ladies made was DELICIOUS and included raw cheeze dip, kale salad with miso dressing, fall fall harvest soup, avocado coconut soup, and chocolate truffles.  I’d like to say the burgers were a hit! They definitely were with me. My squeeze ate the leftover burgers the next day and I promptly made us another batch. I had an undisclosed number of them (more than 3, less than 5) for dinner tonight, wrapped in lettuce since a batch of the onion bread still is in the dehydrator.

I’ll say now too that I’m not exactly sure where I got any of these recipes. I’m constantly scouring websites, cookbooks and whatever I can get my hands on for new things, especially raw recipes. I then often tweak and adapt them to my or my clients’ tastes. I’ll be sure and give credit where credit is due if and when I come across them again.

Obviously, making things like this pretty much requires a dehydrator. If you don’t have one, you could try lining a sheet pan with unbleached parchment paper and keeping an eye on things in the oven. Considering things usually dehydrate for hours and hours, it would be quite a waste of energy to put the oven on its lowest setting and let things sit in there for a few hours, but you can do it. They say putting ovens on the lowest setting (ideally 175) and propping it open with a fork or a chopstick keeps it around 115 degrees — approximately the highest temperature at which things should be dehydrated to be considered raw/living. Above 118 degrees, food’s enzymes start breaking down and therefore they are no longer living. However, if you’re interested in trying these for flavor and health, and not their rawness, you can bake them in the oven at a low temperature (250? just a guess) and keep an eye on them.

On to the recipes.

Spicy Raw Walnut Burgers
You could leave the hot peppers out completely and it will still be delicious. Or, if you like things crazy hot like my client, throw in 2-3 habaneros or ghost peppers. I have been using 1 jalapeno or serrano and it’s been perfect for me.

Ingredients
• 1 c. walnuts, soaked in filtered water for 2-4 hours
• 1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in filtered water for 30+ min.
(Reserve soaking water)
• 1 hot pepper or more to taste
• 1/2 onion (This is up to your interpretation. I usually use half of a good-sized sweet onion)
• 1 Tbsp. nama shoyu OR Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce, tamari, etc., which aren’t technically raw)
• 1 tsp. salt-free meat seasoning (or a seasoning with salt and pepper and disregard the next two ingredients)
• 1/2 tsp. black pepper
• 1 tsp. sea salt

1. Process (drained) walnuts, (drained) sun-dried tomatoes, and 1/8 c. tomato soaking water in food processor, and process until it reaches a “meaty” consistency.

Here you can either remove from processor and combine with rest of ingredients in a bowl OR do what I do, and add rest of ingredients to the food processor and process until it reaches your desired smoothness or chunkiness, depending on what you like.

2. Turn dehydrator to 115 degrees and pull out trays, lined with with ParaFlexx sheets (or use parchment paper if you have a different kind of dehydrator). Form mixture into patties (be sure to use gloves if you’re using super spicy peppers. I learned this the hard way once…). I find the smaller the patties are the better because they dehydrate faster and they are a good size to either eat with the raw bread or wrap in a piece of lettuce like a burrito.

3. Put patties on trays (I made a double batch today and it made about 20 small burgers on 2 1/2 trays — I remove whatever trays I’m not using). Dehydrate for 1 hour.

4. Flip onto screen, removing the ParaFlexx sheet. You can either do this with a spatula or place an empty mesh-lined tray on top of a tray of burgers, flip it then carefully peel back the sheet. Dehydrate for an additional 1-2 hours until they are dehydrated to your liking.

Raw Onion Bread
I know I found this on a raw community forum. I remember it was referred to as “The Famous” onion bread. I LOVE the flavor of this bread. It also was delicious with the raw cashew “cheeze” that A made at cooking club.

Ingredients
• 2 1/2 pounds sweet onions (Any sweet onion will do — just make sure it’s some kind of sweet onion, like vidalia or walla walla, etc. If you can’t weight it, usually 3 medium to large onions hits around 2 1/2 pounds.)
• 1 c. ground sunflower seeds
• 1 c. ground flax seeds
• 3 oz. (1 1/2 Tbsp.) Nama Shoyu (or again, Bragg’s, etc.)
• 1 avocado, overripe*
• 1/4 c. olive oil

* Original recipes calls for 1/2 c. olive oil. I decided to substitute half of it with an avocado. At some point, I want to try to eliminate the oil altogether.

1. If you don’t have already ground flax or sunflower seeds, pulse in food processor until finely ground, then place in a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. Process roughly chopped onions in food processor until finely chopped but not total mush. Don’t worry, the seeds will soak up that extra liquid.

3. Place onions and rest of ingredients in with seeds and mix thoroughly. If your avocado isn’t super ripe, maybe leave some of the onions behind and process with the avocado to get it mushy, then add it to the rest.

4. Spread on ParaFlexx sheets about 1/2 inch thick. This recipe usually spreads to cover three trays. I usually “cut” it at this point with a pizza cutter or a dull/butter knife (carefully and lightly) into 9 squares each sheet. Although it doesn’t seem like it would do much, as it dehydrates it will separate more and make it easier to cut/break into pieces in the end.

5. Dehydrate at 115 for 4-5 hours. Then use the flipping trick mentioned above (if you can think of a better one, go for it. I felt like a genius the night I figured this out!) and dehydrate another 4-5 hours until it seems dehydrated to your liking. I actually usually flip, then go to bed, so it ends up dehydrating for 6 to 8 hours in the end and its just fine. It might not be as spongy or “bread-like” but it also doesn’t over-dehydrate it to a cracker state, so I’ve continued to do it this way.

6. Cut or break off pieces and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days. Use for sandwiches or however you like!

Raw Ketchup
This is quick and easy and very tasty!

Ingredients
• 1 c. diced tomato, any variety
• 2 tsp. cider vinegar
• 1 tsp. agave
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 c. sun-dried tomato

Place everything but the sun-dried tomatoes in a high-speed blender until smooth. Then add sun-dried tomatoes and blend until thick and smooth.

Throw this on a burger with the bread and a crispy piece of Romaine lettuce and enjoy! I don’t have this particular bread or ketchup photographed, but you can see the burgers and other raw foods that I’ve made on my Facebook page for my business HERE.