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Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 15

raw vegan nut cheese plate

I am very late in writing up the synopsis for the rest of my Advanced Raw Cuisine course, but here it is, better late than never… Day 15!

Day 15 marked the end of pastry week! The finished chocolate bonbons were presented today. We also started prep work for one final pastry recipe that will be completed as part of week 4, and everything came together for the final cheese plate as well. It was beautiful when everything was laid out.

Here are some red pears in the vacuum sealed bag. They are marinading in a sauce that will make them both flavorful and soft. It contains some agave, lemon juice, and spices. The texture was wonderful. The apple slices were pliable and soft, just as if they’d been poached! These are for a chocolate walnut cake that will be ready as part of week 4. 

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These are some candied fennel seed in the making. Fennel seeds tossed with a little maple syrup and put into the dehydrator to get crispy! They will also be used for the walnut cake dessert. 

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Here are the final nut cheeses after aging in the fridge for over a month! The course is only 4 weeks, but since I was working on a longer 8 week track, I had the opportunity to age mine longer. The texture was wonderful. They were soft and creamy, definitely more “cheese-like”. The flavors were so mature. It was really worth the time to let this happen. I also put some of them into the dehydrator for about 24 hours to put a bit of a “rind” on them. 

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I present to you… the finished cheese plate! This has my nut cheeses, some homemade mustard, a raw bread loaf, some raw crackers, a few slices of cucumber and pear, and a few drops of a balsamic vinegar reduction. It was so good!

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The last thing that was finished on this day was a batch of chocolate bon bons! We learned how to temper chocolate and made these wonderful filled candies. There is a green tea and honey filling in the center. 

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Quinoa Collard Wraps (Vegan)

raw vegan quinoa collard wraps

In response to all of the intricate raw food posts I’ve made over the last several months, I’ve been hearing a common question: “When do you have time to do all of that?!” Well, the truth is that I don’t, and I often had to sacrifice my sleep to complete everything on time. The learning experience was fantastic, but I need a little break, so I’m taking the month of November off to rest and do some traveling.

Like most other full time working professionals, my free time is limited to evenings and weekends, and many times after a long day, I’m just tired and don’t want to put a lot of effort info food preparation. Of course, I always want to make sure that I’m not sacrificing the quality or nutritional value of my food when I do so. I still shop almost exclusively in the produce department and make everything from scratch.

So, what was on my dinner plate this evening? Quinoa collard wraps! There is a local restaurant here where we live that makes wraps, which my husband is very fond of (I’ve never tried them). Today, he mentioned swinging by there for lunch, and I suggested that since he liked wraps so much, we should just pick up some ingredients at the grocery store to make our own much more affordably. Big thumbs up from Mr. Frugal. =D

raw vegan quinoa collard wraps

We obviously have much different tastes in food (hence the name of this blog). While he is using whole wheat tortillas and turkey in his, I love to use gigantic collard greens as wraps and fill them with vegetables. Quinoa also makes a really hearty filling for wraps. While many traditional wraps put the grains on the outside and greens on the inside, I like to reverse it! I get a lot more green in my diet this way. 

These were really easy to make. I cooked some quinoa and seasoned it like a tuna salad with celery and onion. Something that I also really love to add to quinoa is a good quality mustard. In this case, I used a 100% homemade curry honey mustard! A little of this stuff goes a long way. Use it sparingly!

curry honey mustard

Of course, you can use any kind that you like, but but seasoning the quinoa with any sauce or spread you might put in a sandwich, you don’t have to worry about it dripping out of your wrap while you’re trying to eat it.

I also added tomato, some yellow bell pepper, some spicy radish sprouts, and a few slices of homemade pickles from cucumbers that I grew on my porch. 

dill pickles

Cucumbers in brine, at the start of the pickling process.

All you have to do is layer in your ingredients and then wrap it up just like a burrito. After that, slice it in half (on the diagonal to be a little fancier), and voila!

raw vegan quinoa collard wraps

I ate two of these for dinner, and I feel very satisfied. I also met my requirement of adding something leafy and green to every meal. 😉

This is an incredibly healthy meal for several reasons:

  • Quinoa is a great plant-based source of protein, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. It is one of the only grains which can be considered a “complete protein”, and it also contains more minerals than other grains.
  • Quinoa contains a bioflavanoid called “quercetin”, which is also found in the skins of apples and onions. It helps to stabilize mast cells and prevent the release of histamine. If you have allergies, this is a great food to incorporate into your diet. 
  • Leafy greens are a great source of calcium in general, but collards are the best source of calcium among all leafy greens, or any other vegetable for that matter!
  • Collards are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, and vitamin C. 2 cups of chopped collards give you 92% of all the RDA for vitamin C. The leaves in this recipe are so large, they easily blow that out of the water. 
  • Collard greens are also a source of ALA (omega-3). Combined with vitamin K, they are a highly anti-inflammatory food.
  • Collard greens are effective at lowering cholesterol! Their high fiber content and the nutrients they contain bind to the bile acids that are released by our gallbladders after eating a fatty meal. Instead of getting reabsorbed into the body along with the fat, they pass through the intestines and existing cholesterol must be broken down to make more bile acids. This is actually the same mechanism by which some cholesterol drugs work. (Source: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=138)

Please enjoy this recipe!

Quinoa Collard Wraps
Serves 1
These quinoa collard wraps are not only easy and quick to make, they are also delicious and nutritious!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
Wrap Ingredients
  1. 2 giant collard leaves - washed, dried, and stems shaved down flat
Quinoa Ingredients
  1. 1 cup cooked quinoa
  2. 1/2-1tsp honey mustard
  3. 1 stalk celery, finely diced
  4. 2-3 tsp red onion, finely chopped
  5. pinch or two of salt, to taste
  6. twist or two of black pepper, to taste
Other Wrap Fillings
  1. 1/4 bell pepper, cut into strips
  2. 1/2 tomato, thinly sliced
  3. 6-8 small dill pickle slices (don't skip these!)
  4. sprouts of your choice (optional for extra "green")
Instructions
  1. If you have leftover quinoa, this is a great use for it! Just mix in the "Quinoa Ingredients".
  2. If you need to cook the quinoa, follow the instructions on the package or just throw it in a rice cooker if you can't be bothered to read such things (guilty). Just make sure you rinse it first to remove residue which can result in bitterness.
  3. Chop the vegetables. If you had to cook your quinoa, mix the celery and onion in while it's still warm to soften them a bit. They are also good crunchy!
  4. Lay your prepared collard leaves down on a flat surface. Don't forget to shave the stems down with a sharp knife so the leaves can be rolled easily.
  5. Depending on the size of your collard greens, add appx 1/4 cup of quinoa (or maybe a little more or less) to the center of the leaf.
  6. Add any other wrap fillings that you'd like.
  7. Roll it up like a burrito.
  8. Slice it up and eat it!
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Advanced Raw Cuisine: Day 13

raw vegan linzer cookies

Day 13 of advanced raw cuisine is completed! The day started off with my old friend, the Irish moss seaweed. It has to soak for a few hours so I can make some more Irish moss paste to use in a dessert recipe that is coming up!

irish moss soaking

After the seaweed was put in some water to soak, it was time to learn about mustards, chutneys, and reductions. We were given some guidelines and allowed to make our own mustard and chutney variations to be set aside as candidates for our cheese plates later in the week. We also made balsamic vinegar reductions in the dehydrator that we will be using in the caprese salad plating on day 16!

Recipes for both the mustard and the chutney are included at the bottom of this entry!

The mustard I made is a spicy yellow curry honey mustard. I was very pleased with the way it turned out. My husband has been putting it on his sandwiches. 🙂 

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The chutney I made is a spicy pineapple chutney with some dried apricot and a little fresh mint. It was both refreshing and potently spicy at the same time… a real sinus clearer… my kind of food! 

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This is the easiest balsamic vinegar reduction I have ever made! I didn’t have to worry about watching anything on the stove, or checking temperatures, or making sure anything wasn’t burning! I just put the glass bowl of balsamic vinegar into the dehydrator to let some moisture evaporate off, and after a few hours, I was left with a beautiful balsamic vinegar syrup. 

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As a bonus, we also learned how to make homemade vanilla extract. It is really simple. I can’t believe I’ve never done this before. I took herbalism classes years ago, and it is literally just a vanilla bean tincture. Pour some vodka over the plant matter and let it hang out in a dark place for 4-6 weeks. Voila!

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The other fun thing we got to do today was to assemble the linzer cookies! After making and dehydrating the cookie shapes yesterday, and making the jam, everything was ready. I spread a bit of the raspberry jam between the layers and had a lot of fun taking photos of them. I nibbled a little, but to be honest, my husband was the one who got to eat most of them. They have an almond flour base, and eating too much almond sets off my allergies, so I had to give them up. They turned out to be quite beautiful though!

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After making the liner cookies, we started a cracker recipe, so that we would have some crispy components to add to our cheese plates. I added some garlic and black sesame seeds to give them a more pungent flavor and a nice visual appearance. I really love how they turned out!

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After setting the crackers up in the dehydrator, I blended the Irish moss into a paste and then day 13 was all wrapped up! I’m so ready to go for chocolate making on day 14!!!

Spicy Yellow Curry Honey Mustard
This spicy yellow curry honey mustard blends the exotic and the familiar and a unique flavor combination that is great spread on breads, crackers, sandwiches, etc. If you like spicy food, you will love this mustard recipe!
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 TB yellow mustard seed, soaked in cold water for 10 min (use warm water for less spice)
  2. 2 TB yellow mustard seed, unsoaked
  3. 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  4. 1/4 cup fermented coconut water (or use a dry white wine)
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1 TB yellow curry powder
  7. 2 TB raw honey
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth and well incorporated.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/
Spicy Pineapple Apricot Chutney
This chutney blends tropical fruit and spicy flavors with fresh elements of mint and basil. It is sure to clear both your palate and your sinuses. 😉
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Food Processor ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  2. 2 TB chopped apricot (appx 5 apricots)
  3. 1/4 thai chili, seeded (omit this if you don't want it to be spicy)
  4. 1 TB lime juice
  5. 1/4 tsp of salt
Chopped and folded-in ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup chopped pineapple
  2. 2 TB chopped spearmint
  3. 1 TB chopped basil
Instructions
  1. Blend the "food processor ingredients" in a food processor until well incorporated, but still a little chunky.
  2. Transfer blended ingredients to a bowl and fold in the remaining chopped pineapple and fresh herbs.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Quinoa & Lentils, Simple Salad, and Sauerkraut

A simple vegan meal for two of both cooked and raw foods: germinated quinoa and lentils, salad of romaine and cucumber, homemade sauerkraut

Dear Internet,

I have great news! In an effort to be more frugal, I am now preparing all of the meals for both my husband and I from scratch. We’ve been all about simplifying our lives (even more) and “getting rid of (even more) stuff” lately. As I am the cook, he’s been eating vegan food. It’s a lot cheaper and better for the planet to eat good quality plant based foods than to eat animal proteins. He’s dropped a few pounds and is looking even hotter than usual. Hooray for easy vegan meals. 😉 

sauerkraut

We also rearranged the furniture at about the same time that we started to implement this, so now we get to sit down every night and share a nice meal and some conversation together. It’s really been wonderful, though I will have to admit, it is more time consuming than I thought it would be. In an attempt to not keep him waiting too long for dinner, I haven’t been as diligent at recording my recipes, and I haven’t really been using recipes, so much as throwing together simple, healthy, and very affordable meals with items we already have on hand.

quinoa and lentils

While I prefer more raw food, he prefers more cooked food, and I want to be able to accommodate both of us, and also make sure he’s still getting some “roughage” since cooking destroys certain heat-sensitive vitamins, like vitamin C (which, as a friendly reminder, humans are unable to produce on their own like most other animals on the planet – we must consume it from our food). 

romaine and cucumber salad

After struggling over whether or not to post these ridiculously easy vegan meals, it struck me that this very thing was the original premise of my blog. My husband is actually eating and enjoying the vegan meals that I’m preparing. It truly is a “taste of two plates” now! =D

By incorporating some of my own dietary tweaks (which I also feed to my husband), I’ve seen additional improvements to my health as well. Since I cut oils (except for a little flax) out of my diet and started to treat nuts and seeds as condiments rather than snacks or main ingredients, I’ve dropped about 2% body fat (no lean tissue loss), have very sound sleep with minimal disturbances, have been getting up earlier, and have been feeling rested on less sleep. This is nothing short of a miracle for me. For all the health issues I’ve managed to reverse, I’ve still always needed a lot of sleep.

simple vegan meals

This evening’s dinner consisted of a large romaine and cucumber salad, some homemade sauerkraut (love the bugs!), and some sprouted lentils and quinoa with parsley and a honey mustard sauce (the only cooked part of the meal). Yes, I use local raw honey (to build immunity against local pollen), but you may use any natural sweetener you like (such as a fruit puree). I’ve been buying dried lentils, beans, and seeds, so I can soak and germinate them before eating, whether they will end up being cooked or eaten raw. This reduces the phytic acid content and makes them more digestible. Less phytic acid means you can absorb more nutrients from the rest of your food too. 

Apricot Honey Mustard Quinoa & Lentils, Simple Salad, and Sauerkraut
Serves 2
An easy vegan meal with a lot of raw food, a little cooked food, and a healthy dose of probiotics. The quinoa and lentils are germinated to maximize nutrition and digestibility, and are also hearty and flavorful enough to please the omnivores in your house.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
40 min
Sauerkraut Ingredients
  1. Easy Sauerkraut Recipe
Quinoa & Lentils Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  2. 1/2 cup dried lentils
  3. large handful fresh parsley, chopped
  4. 2 TB cup organic mustard
  5. 3 TB water
  6. 2 TB ACV
  7. 1 TB naturally sweetened apricot fruit spread (e.g. Polaner's) - optional, but delicious
  8. 2 TB local raw honey (or preferred vegan sweetener - or just add extra apricot spread)
  9. 1/4 tsp sea salt
Salad Ingredients
  1. 1/2 head of romaine
  2. 1 cucumber (peeled if not organic)
  3. 2 TB flax oil
  4. 2 TB raw ACV or lemon juice
  5. Dried herbs of your choice (optional - I used fennel and dill on mine)
  6. Tiny pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste (optional)
Germinating Quinoa and Lentils (Optional)
  1. The night before you want to make this, soak the quinoa and lentils overnight (in separate bowls), drain in the morning, and then leave on the counter, covered loosely with a towel, during the day. If you want instant gratification, you don't need to do this advanced prep work, but it makes them much more nutritious and digestible.
Cooking Quinoa and Lentils
  1. Using a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa, cook the quinoa either in a rice cooker or simmer for appx. 20 minutes on the stove after bringing the water to a boil.
  2. Using a 2:1 ratio of water to lentils, simmer the lentils for appx. 30 minutes on the stove after bringing the water to a boil (test for tenderness).
  3. Combine in a bowl and mix in the parsley (bonus points if you grew it yourself).
  4. Whisk in a bowl until well blended: mustard, water, ACV, apricot spread, honey (or other sweetener), and sea salt.
  5. Pour the sauce over the quinoa and lentil mixture and stir it in.
Salad Directions
  1. Layer greens and veggies on the plate.
  2. Top each salad with 1 TB each flax seed oil and ACV or lemon juice.
  3. Add some dried herbs if you like.
Notes
  1. For best preparation efficiency, start cooking the lentils first, then the quinoa. While those are on the pot, prepare the sauce, chop the salad vegetables, and retrieve your sauerkraut from the fridge.
  2. I use local raw honey because it helps to keep my allergies at bay. You are welcome to use any other natural sweetener that you would like in this recipe if you would like a truly vegan alternative.
  3. You are welcome to use any dressing you like on the salad in order to have a peaceful meal with the omnivores in your life. My husband and I do not use the same salad dressings. 🙂
  4. I like my food a bit on the spicy side. If the mustard is too potent for you in the sauce, feel free to add a little extra water to dilute it. Keep in mind that once it is mixed into the quinoa and lentils, they will soak it up and it will not be as strong.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/

Healthy Coleslaw w/Avocado Dressing (Raw Vegan)

Raw Vegan Avocado Coleslaw

Growing up in Florida, I remember having many varieties of coleslaw served at summer cookouts and birthday parties. I use the term, “summer” loosely, of course. It feels like summer here for 6 months out of the year, so we had coleslaw at Memorial Day and Labor Day cookouts as well. 

Now that “summer” is creeping up on us down here in the southeast US, I thought it would be nice to put together a lighter and healthier version of the traditional mayo and sugar-laden coleslaw dish.

My recipe uses Napa cabbage instead of regular green cabbage. Napa cabbage has a more delicate texture and flavor, and it has a higher concentration of folate than other varieties of cabbage. I have also added some scallions for a little extra texture and flavor. 

For the coleslaw dressing, I chose to use ripe avocados to create a creamy base instead of mayonnaise. This recipe is entirely free of eggs or dairy, so it won’t turn rotten if you have it outside for a picnic. I also used a garlic-infused raw ACV (apple cider vinegar) that resulted from from fermenting some raw garlic in the ACV for 8 weeks (and still counting), and a small amount of low glycemic raw unrefined coconut sugar.

Sources:

Raw Vegan Avocado Coleslaw
Serves 2
A healthy alternative to a traditional coleslaw, this recipe uses no egg, no dairy, and no refined sugars.
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Slaw Ingredients
  1. 4 cups Napa cabbage, chopped
  2. 1 cup shredded carrot
  3. 2 stalks scallion, chopped
Dressing Ingredients
  1. 2 ripe avocados
  2. 1 cup water
  3. 1/2 cup garlic infused raw apple cider vinegar (sub: plain ACV + 2 tsp garlic powder)
  4. 2TB extra virgin olive oil
  5. 2 tsp mustard powder
  6. 1 tsp celery seed
  7. 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  8. 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper (or to taste)
  9. 2 TB raw coconut sugar (I like this one, as it is unrefined and low glycemic: Coconut Secret Coconut Crystals - Raw Coconut Sugar)
Instructions
  1. Mix shopped vegetables for the slaw in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add all dressing ingredients to a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix
  3. Mix dressing into slaw
Notes
  1. Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side dish
  2. I am planning to experiment with a sunflower seed base as well, for those who may be turned off by the green color of the avocado, but I think it imparts a nice creamy texture.
  3. I used Napa cabbage here instead of regular cabbage because I like the softer texture than regular cabbage.
A Taste of Two Plates http://tasteoftwoplates.com/