Sprout New Roots


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Vegan Walnut Pesto

I’ve always loved pesto. Pesto on my pasta, pesto spread on toasty bread, pesto on a sandwich or wrap, etc. After going from vegetarian to vegan, I learned that a lot of pesto’s usually have parmesan cheese in them. I also learned that making vegan pesto is crazy easy and whatever that parmesan cheese added to the flavor, nuts could add an even cleaner taste to it-while maintaining the “cheezy” notes. For the last few years, however, I’ve not really fooled around with pesto. Then we started an herb garden and I found what I’d been missing out on-fresh basil. I’d searched the web, collected and saved recipes and when my basil was ready-I was more than ready. My mouth watered just looking at the basil leaves! So here’s what I did. I used NeverHomeMaker’s Pesto recipe as my base, slightly altered it, and added a little nutritional yeast. (Check out her blog if you have not already-I have a crush on her food pictures!)

Once we made this and served it over pasta, we literally looked at each other constantly saying “Oh my god, now this is delicious!”, “Oh my god, I can’t even believe how good this is!”, “Wow.” haha!

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Walnut Basil Pesto

(slightly altered from NeverHomeMaker’s version)

Makes about 8-12 oz of sauce

  • 3/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts-but I used walnuts because they’re cheaper)
  • 2.5 cups fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped up a bit
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes

How-To

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a rimmed baking sheet, spread your walnuts and then roast for 5 minutes. Stir. Roast another couple minutes, until you can smell them. Set aside to cool completely. I put mine in the freezer while I did the other steps to speed up the cooling process.
  2. Boil a cup and a half of water and then “shock” the basil (helps keep the green color longer) by placing it in water for 10 seconds. Then immediately pour into colander and rinse with cold water and pat dry with a tea towel. You’ll be shocked at how much the leaves shrivel down to nothing!
  3. In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Then pulse until well combined.
  4. Store in an air-tight container for 2-4 days in the refrigerator for use or freeze in ice cube tray for the future.

Thank you NeverHomeMaker!!

photo(9)Reaping my harvest! Ha!

photo(11)We cooked some quinoa pasta and steamed and sauteed veggies, then topped it with the pesto!

This made for such an incredible meal!

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Do you have any pesto tips or recipes? I’d love to hear them!

 


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The Mac-n-Vegan-Cheesiest!

Everyone loves comfort food. Including us! Who doesn’t appreciate food that’s tastes like home? We grew up in New Orleans and pretty much all of the cuisine here makes people feel happy when they eat it. They may not feel so good afterwards-but it’s worth it to them. Not so much to us. However, we love that warming, comfortable feeling of tasting a slice of home-which brings me to this post! What we consider comfort food. Mac –Cheese! But not just any old mac n cheese- Spaghetti Squash Mac-n-Cashew “Cheese”! There are many recipes that you can find online for different nut and cashew cheese sauces, but I wanted to show you guys exactly what I did with what I had in my pantry because I believe it’s a simpler recipe than a lot that I found online. I chose spaghetti squash for the “noodles” because I have noticed, over time, that I’ve tended to “crowd out” pastas with whole grains and other “whole foods”. The last few times I have eaten pasta (even whole wheat or multi-grain) I feel heavier than I like to afterwards. I think my body is just used to lighter fair these days. And by “lighter” I certainly do not mean only salads-just food that takes less processing by my body. I still love pasta though and of course I still eat it occasionally. It’s just a small change I’ve experienced gradually over this past year and a half. Also, I like to eat a lot-so if I eat pasta-I can’t eat as much and that’s just no fun for me!
So here’s what I did!

cashews

Spaghetti Squash

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash, or 2 small spaghetti squashes

You can bake your spaghetti squash whole or in 2 halves (cut lengthwise) in the oven.

If you choose to bake it whole, pierce the skin with a sharp knife several times around the squash. Bake it for an hour if it’s a medium-large size at 375 degrees. Bake for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees if it’s a small one. You’ll need to be careful that the skin doesn’t burn.  Check it occasionally and reposition it if you notice it beginning to brown in one spot. Once it is finished (you should be able to pierce the skin with a knife without much resistance) , remove from the oven, cut in half, and carefully scrape out the seeds and pulp in the center, then scrape the inside “meat” of the squash out with a fork and you’ll notice it comes out in “noodles” just like spaghetti!

If you choose to bake it in half, cut it in half, scrape out the seeds and pulp from the center and place it in the oven on a baking pan rind side up for 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees. Again, once it is finished, scrape the inside of the squash out with a fork.

Cashew Cheese Sauce

  • 1 cup of cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 ½ cups of non-dairy milk (I used soy milk, but almond milk would work fine as well. Avoid coconut milk for this)
  • 1 heaping tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup olive oil

Put cashews in your blender or processor. Blend until they’re crumbly but be sure not to blend to a paste. Add the nutritional yeast flakes along with the garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt. Pulse the blender 3 or 4 more times to mix it up. On the stove, heat the nondairy milk, olive oil, and the cornstarch. Heat and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. Turn your blender/processor back on and slowly add the hot milkiness and blend for 2 minutes until smooth. Mix it into your spaghetti squash noodles! Add steamed/sautéed veggies into it or on the side. I have added in fresh spinach (picture below) and also steamed broccoli and carrots! Viola! Guilt-free comfort food!

Little Tip! Use this cashew “cheese” sauce to pour over your veggies or rice! Slather it on a sandwich! Dip chips or veggies into it!

spaghetti-squash-1

What do you consider comfort food ?

Please let us know in the comments below!


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Carrots and Broccoli, Oh My!

Hey guys and gals! I’m going to share with you a yummy, affordable, and super healthy dish, k? K, cool! Before my sister and I went vegan around 8 months ago, we always loved our aunt’s carrot/broccoli parmesan pasta that she would make for most family events. It was one of our go-to vegetarian dishes that we’d load up onto our plates. My husband loves this simple dish as well. So, while at the grocery store earlier Jason threw the idea out to make it for dinner-only vegan, obviously. So we did and I even added in a fun surprise: chopped up almonds! Next time, I may even leave out the pasta entirely since I found myself eating mainly the broccoli and carrots because they were so good! Seriously, that would make a wonderful dish on it’s own, or a great side dish!

Anywho, my aunt’s dish kinda goes like this: white pasta, steamed carrots, steamed broccoli, minced garlic, olive oil, and parmesan, all tossed together.

My dish kinda goes like this:

Carrot & Broccoli Almond Pasta

1 lb. bag of whole wheat pasta, cooked – in our case, tonight, we used a spinach flavored one (I personally didn’t taste anything spinachy so next time if I even use pasta, I’ll just stick with regular whole wheat)

2 heads broccoli chopped up, steamed

10-15 carrots chopped up, steamed

4 garlic cloves, minced/chopped, then very lightly sauteed for 5 or so minutes on the stove in just a splash of water

a big handful of almonds, soaked/sprouted, then dried out (google how to do this bc it takes hours-here’s one basic link http://www.almondessence.com/Transforming.cfm); but it’s easy and increases your absorbancy of the nutrient power of almonds, and makes their outer shell digest-able). Once they were finished being sprouted, I laid them onto my toaster oven pan and baked them at 150 degrees for an hour or 2 until they seemed mostly dry. Then I chopped up (I used my mini prep processor). This is a good idea to do regularly to have sprouted almonds on-hand so you can easily add them to dishes-like I did!

Olive oil

Combine everything and mix up! Drizzle a little olive oil to your liking into the mix (try not to over-do this as olive oil is super fatty!).

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Erin Go Green! Veggie Parade!

Hey y’all! So this past weekend was St. Patty’s Day! I always welcome the opportunity to wear a festive color in my wardrobe! While I didn’t wear green on the actual St. Patrick’s Day, I did wear a green shirt to work the day before…intentionally…so that counts right? Right! I thought so! I’m not Irish (although I’ll assume my first name of Kelli will get me at least into the door)-but I have always been drawn to the Irish heritage from the accent to the music to the heart and soul of it-pure love from me.

Anywho, New Orleans is a fun place to be for St. Patty’s Day weekend. We have the Irish Channel parade on Saturday-which is in Uptown, Nola. And we have the Louisiana Irish-Italian Parade on Sunday in Metry. We didn’t get a chance to make it to the Irish Channel parade uptown due to other things we had going on (Jason played golf while I laid in the sun in my mom’s back yard with my sister watching my pups run around and swim). We did, however, make it to the LAIT parade on Sunday which is just 2 blocks down from my mom’s house. It was really nice and fun! We laid out a blanket and just hung out as the parade passed. Well, mostly Jenn and I hung out–everyone else ran to the floats for throws that included cabbage, carrots, onions, lemons, oranges, heads of garlic, potatoes, and even some apples and bananas! We guarded the loot as our mom, step-dad, and Jason all kept running back and forth from the floats to us delivering the goods. We felt like veggie goddesses guarding our domain! It’s been a few years since we have gone to this parade and the last time we did, we didn’t quite appreciate vegetables as much! For one, we didn’t appreciate the pure awesomeness of FREE food! And, secondly, we were vegetarians-but ones who didn’t eat vegetables like we do now. The Irish Channel parade also throws vegetables as well, FYI. Anywho, here are a few pictures from the day!

Mom, me, and Jenn with our fancy loot! And some Cabbage!

Jenn and I.

And finally, a very colorful display of our booty! (haha)

Erin Go Bragh! (or Green!)

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It’s Ma Birffdaaay! My Cake and a Lasagna Recipe!

Hello all!

Sorry it’s been a while between posts. Jenn and I have been super busy lately it seems! Well, I am writing because on March 1, I turned 28 years young. Crazy to me. Just madness actually. I feel like I was just 23 years old…I guess, as Kermit the Frog himself would say, “time’s fun when you’re having flies!” 🙂 Anywho, for my birthday night this past Thursday, my mom and step-dad took me and Jason and my brother out to dinner. I got to choose the place, so Sukho Thai on Magazine St. it was! They have a really decent sized vegetarian menu that they easily can turn vegan; and they are always so accommodating and on top of that. We got the spring rolls and the garden soup for appetizers. Both were scrumptious. And I got the Pad Thai for my meal-sans the egg and fish sauce. So good every time! Here’s a photo of us all from the evening: (excuse our demon-esque eyes peering into your very soul).


Then on Saturday, me, Jason, my sister Jenn and her boyfriend Chris, and our brother Dusten all went walking around Uptown and ate at Juan’s Flying Burrito. They too have a bunch of vegetarian and vegan options. My sister and I split 2 dishes–Veggie Fajitas and then some Supergreen burrito thing and both were so filling and delicious.


And then, after Juan’s, we went to Whole Foods and bought a Vegan Cookies-and-Cream cake and went home and indulged! I looove Oreos so this was such a treat!

And then on Sunday, my birthday celebration continued! My mom knows how much I loved the Engine 2 “Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegatable Lasagna” when she made it the first time, so she made it again! I cannot explain to you how yummy this stuff is. It’s just sooo flavorful and awesome! It’s a huge feast of a lasagna too! It takes lots of prep work and time-but if you are making dinner for company and want to impress them or if you just want lasagna that will be delicious and will last you the entire week (it makes a large portion) than this is a must for you. I can’t recommend it enough!

I’m giving you guys the recipe from “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn. Since this is the second time that my mom has made it, she made a few adjustments that I’ll add below the original recipe. I must say that the original is sooo freaking good, but this second time, with my moms tweaks, it was to die for! 🙂

Raise-the-Roof Sweet Potato-Vegetable Lasagna

Serves 10 to 12

1 onion, chopped

1 small head of garlic, all cloves chopped or pressed

8 ounces mushrooms, sliced

1 head broccoli, chopped

1 can corn, rinsed and drained

1 package firm tofu

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon rosemary

2 jars pasta sauce

2 boxes whole grain lasagna noodles

16 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained

2 sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed

6 roma tomatoes, sliced thin

1 cup raw cashews, ground

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute the onion and garlic on high heat for 3 minutes in a wok or nonstick pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until the onions are limp and the mushrooms give up their liquid. Remove them to a large bowl with a slotted spoon. Reserve the mushroom liquid in the pan. Saute the broccoli and carrots for 5 minutes and add to the mushroom bowl. Saute the peppers and corn until just beginning to soften. Add them to the vegetable bowl. Drain the tofu by wrapping in paper towels. Break it up directly in the towel and mix into the vegetable bowl. Add spices to the vegetable bowl and combine.

To Assemble:

Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole with a layer of sauce. Add a layer of noodles. Cover the noodles with sauce. This way the noodles cook in the oven, saving time and energy. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another dressing of sauce. Add the spinach to the second layer of sauced noodles. Cover the spinach with the mashes sweet potatoes. Add another layer of sauce, the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover lasagna with thinly sliced roma tomatoes. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and sprinkle with cashews and returnt to the oven for 15 minutes. Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

*The tweaks that my mom made:

She held out on the tofu until the layer of red sauce under the sweet potatoes. She mixed the crumbled tofu with that layer of red sauce. She also added 1 zucchini and 1 squash, sliced thin, and pan sauteed them w onion. She also pan sauteed 1.5 eggplants in vegetable broth. That along with the zucchini and squash was 1 layer in the lasagna. Instead of frozen spinach, she used fresh baby spinach. This makes a huge difference.