Cooking with Coconut Oil: Zucchini Bread & Quinoa Pilaf with “Chicken”


If the Case for Coconut Oil post didn’t convince you of the magic of coconut oil, these tasty examples of sweet and savory uses of it will.

MEAL-REPLACEMENT ZUCCHINI BREAD WITH MAPLE STREUSEL TOPPING

Okay, so it may not be the healthiest options for a meal replacement, but this slight adaptation on Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s version from The Joy of Vegan Baking (my all time fav vegan baking cookbook) is so hearty and irresistible, you can easily fill up on accident. This is an example of replacing canola oil in a recipe with the healthier coconut oil without compromising texture or taste.

Best eaten with a glass of coconut milk, a bib, and an elastic waistband.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tbsp ground flaxseed or 4 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer (equivalent to 3 eggs)
  • 1/2 cup water (6 tbsp if using Ener-G)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp white distilled vinegar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)

TOPPING INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp maple extract
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease two 8 x 4 x 2 inch loaf pans, 4 mini loaf pans, or 24 muffin tins (use coconut oil!)

In a mixer or food processor, combine the flaxseed and water (or Ener-G and water) and whip until thick and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the oil, vinegar, and sugar, and combine. Stir in the zucchini and vanilla. If using a food processor, transfer the oil/vinegar/sugar combination to a large bowl with zucchini/vanilla.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add the nuts and raisins to sifted ingredients. Stir the dry mixture into the wet  until just combined. Divide the batter into the pans.

To make topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and maple extract in a small bowl and stir to combine. Use pastry cutter or fork and cut earth balance into mix until crumbly texture. Sprinkle topping evenly across the top of each pan. Bake for 60-70 minutes for stand loaves, 40-55 minutes for mini loaves, or 30-35 minutes for muffins.  Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center.

ZUCCHINI BREAD NUTRITION (1/9 of loaf): 288 calories – 10 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 16 mg sodium– 47 g carbs – 3 g fiber – 29 g sugar – 3 g protein- 6 WW points

QUINOA PILAF WITH “CHICKEN” *v/gf

Evan took one bite and said, “this stuff tastes just like Rice-a-Roni with chicken.” In our world, that is a complement. Not only is this meal packed with protein, healthy fats, essntial vitamins and amino acids, it is super easy to make and crazy inexpensive (around $2/serving).

Your mind will think it's a cheat day...your body will whoop it up.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fresh sage
  • 6-10 oz seitan or tofu, cubed
  • 4 cups kale
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion, celery, and carrot in hot oil until tender (about 5-7 minutes). Add the zucchini, quinoa, broth, seasoning, and sage. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and cover until liquid has absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, de-stem the kale and tear/chop the leaves into bite sized pieces. Add to skillet or wok with either cooking spray or 1/2 tsp oil. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until kale is tender. Do not overcook.

Stir in the seitan or tofu and stir into the quinoa mix.  Serve pilaf on a bed of kale, makes 4 servings.

QUINOA PILAF NUTRITION: 367 calories – 11 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 748 mg sodium– 49 g carbs – 7 g fiber – 7 g sugar – 21 g protein- 7 WW points

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Monday meal planning: 5 tips for success

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 Have you ever seen an adult woman throwing an all-out temper tantrum? You know, the kind where she burns anyone near her with the flames projecting from her eyes, the items in her arms get used as weaponry, and/or she flails herself on the bed cursing any variety of events that would make any sane-minded person merely scoff? Well…Evan met a version of this medusa after my first experience with meal planning. I have since reclaimed composure, learning a few ‘what not to do’s’ in the process and educating myself on how meal planning can be less like a day at the DMV and even borderline enjoyable.

1. Enjoy at least one green smoothie everyday. If the rest of your day is filled with oreos and italian food, at least you can say you made this one nutritious choice. Chances are if you begin your day with a nutrient-packed smoothie you will have more of the confidence and energy to keep the healthy momentum going!  The best part of a smoothie is you can change it up everyday to add variety to your routine and, since your body is able to more quickly digest liquid food, it will aid in digestion, ensure hydration, and empower your immune system while giving you instant energy due to the fructose absorption from the fruit. If you don’t already, go out RIGHT NOW and purchase a Vitamix. It is the best investment you will every make. Our typical smoothie includes:

 

  • 1/2 – 1 cup of frozen fruit: blueberries, strawberries, pineapple
  • 1/2 – 1 medium banana
  • 1 cup greens: spinach or kale
  • 1/2 non-dairy milk: coconut or almond
  • 1 – 2 tbsp brown rice protein
  • 1/2 – 1 scoop Vega performance protein powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp chia seeds
2. Cook up a few signature nutritious items.  In the real world where we are always either coming or going with an extreme sense of urgency, leaving a gap between good intentions and desired outcomes. Translation: no time to cook and you end up eating large portions of sugar cereal and crying. Bridge that gap folks, and take some time on a day off to cook a few items such as:
3.  Build your menu around the seasonal ingredients you buy, not around recipes. Doing this step in reverse was exactly what lead to the tantrum. Searching for recipes first and/or choosing more then 1-2 actual recipes will just lead to less flexibility if the week gets zany, a long list of ingredients, and an expensive trip to the store while potenentially leaving you with items that don’t get used. Beside the extras for step 5, shop for the low cost items then use a recipe builder if you have time to cook. The vegetables and fruits ripe in April are:
  • Zucchini
  • Rhubarb
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Spring peas
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Pineapples
  • Mangoes
4. Every meal should include: A bean, a green, and a grain. Follow step 2 and achieving this balance should be easy.  Our go-to combination is just making a rice bowl with our pre-made ingredients such as: brown rice with black beans, tofu, sweet potato, and kale then topped with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and Yumm Sauce.
5.  Make one dish meant for a family dinner. Pick what sounds like fun to make and fun to eat, and commit one day to cooking a sit down meal such as this amazingly creamy Cosmic Kate:

COSMIC CASHEW KALE AND CHICKPEAS W/ CONFETTI QUINOA

FOLLOW LINK ABOVE TO A TRUE HAPPY MEAL

Straight up "EUREKA" yo.

 

Happy meal planning, and be sure to share your ideas with us…we would love to feature your recipes and stories!

 

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Monday meal planning: Cabbage soup, vegan goulash, avocado sandwich, & roasted vegetables

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I have a dream.

In this dream, I am spending my Sunday evenings basking in the possibility of a new week by creating a master grocery list to construct beautiful, nightly meals for my mini family. Evan and I breeze through our door after a fulfilling day at work, change into breathable yet well-fitting dinner clothes, pour a glass of pinot, choose from one of our many aprons, and spend the early evening making a beautiful meal in between flirtatious tickle fights. Then we share that meal on our roomy kitchen table over warm lighting and stimulating conversation. Ahhh….

In my waking life, I am unemployed and when Evan comes home we put on our sweatpants, hold the fridge open for five, energy-wasting minutes before we pull out whatever concoction we can throw together with a few minutes and microwave. We walk right past the magazine and mail holder that was once the kitchen table and eat dinner on the couch while leaning over an end-table. At least there is warm lighting, but it’s coming from the glow of Hulu off our laptops. Oh, and we finished off the last of the pinot while watching WWII documentaries last night. *sigh*

I’m an idealist, and I will hold on tight to that dream..but in the meantime, if the latter situation sounds more like you’re style, might as well accommodate reality and have some quick things cooked up and ready to be eaten. Meal planning is a bit of a science, balancing what is in season with your likes while remaining cognisant of money and balanced nutrition. We have found the best technique is to go to the grocery store with only one special meal in mind (don’t let the idealism die!), but then just purchase a healthy amount of whatever is in season, which is usually also less expensive.  Then you can build your meal plans using a recipe-builder tool like the one on Allrecipes. Just type in the ingredients you purchased and it brings up recipes that include your fare.

Finally, we have staples that we cook every week – usually lentils, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and a marinated protein like tofu or tempeh. Your best bet is to cook when you have time and when you’re feeling happy, we believe that how you feel manifests in how well your food turns out…so step one is always GET HAPPY! This week was clean-out-the-fridge-of-dying-vegetables  week, so enjoy these peasant inspired ideas!

“CALORIE FREE” CABBAGE SOUP *gluten-free

This soup comes with consequences...eat it only around friends.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green beans, fresh is best!
  • 1/2 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to tast

Spray pot with non stick cooking spray saute onions carrots and garlic for 5 minutes. Add broth, Tomato paste, cabbage, green beans, basil, oregano and Salt & Pepper to taste.

Simmer for a about 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender then add the zuccini and simmer for another 5 or so minutes. Makes 7-8 cups, serving = 1 cup.

 CABBAGE SOUP NUTRITION: 28 calories – 0 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 55 mg sodium– 6 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 3 g sugar – 1 g protein- 0-1 WW points

MOM’S VEGAN GOULASH

Use spelt or other GF pasta to make the celiac's happy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box elbow macaroni (I used Vitaspelt elbows)
  • 1 cup yves or boca soy crumbles (check for vegan-ness)
  • 1 can diced tomatos
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 3-5 tsp bouillon, to taste (I used 4.5 tsp Better than Bouillon vegetable base…a vegan kitchen staple)

Cook macaroni al dente, drain and rinse with cool water to stop cooking.

Combine garlic and onion and saute for 3-5 minutes until onion began to look translucent. Add the remainder of ingredients, except pasta, and cook for 5 minutes until warm and combined. Add in pasta and simmer on medium-low heat for 5 minutes. Makes 7-8 cups – serving = 1 cup.

VEGAN GOULASH NUTRITION : 157 calories – 8 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 559 mg sodium– 30 g carbs – 5 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 10 g protein- 3 WW points

AVOCADO SANDWICH

(LATS sandwich..lemon, avocado, tomato, spinach)

LATS = YUMM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 slice multigrain bread, toasted (diggin’ on Dave’s Killer Bread 21 grain)
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced (make it look easy, like this dude)
  • Tomato, 2 thin slices
  • Spinach, fresh, to taste
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, to taste

Lay spinach on toasted bread, cover with tomato, and fan avocado thinly on top. Drizzle with light olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper.

AVOCADO SANDWICH NUTRITION : 256 calories – 14 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 208 mg sodium– 31 g carbs – 11 g fiber – 6 g sugar – 9 g protein- 5 WW points

ROASTED VEGETABLES

*The key is using whatever veggies you love and/or whatever you have in the fridge. These are just a baseline of how they are made, and the only calories I count are the ones in the olive oil!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
  • 1 cup of carrots, chopped
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss vegetables with olive oil and seasoning.

Spread veggies in one layer onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Roast for 30-45 minutes, rotating every 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning once removed.

*TIP: Try adding tofu or tempeh to vegetables, then sprinkle with Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids. Bragg’s is a great source of protein and includes 16 amino acids, while also having a great flavor to enhance the roasted veggies.

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Vegan 101: How Samoas and Thin Mints can make you friends.


It can be tough to make friends as an adult. As we get older, it seems that time becomes more elusive, leaving many people to settle for the friends they already know from work or high school or beer league softball or yoga class. I’m not insinuating there is no value to long-term, meaningful relationships – just that there can be life-enhancing value in engaging with the unfamiliar – and that goes for anything in life. I have found that with every new experience my mind opens up, my creativity is stimulated, and there exists new things to learn about myself (not to mention new memories to laugh at that don’t include the same mishaps from high school…what a relief!)

Moving to Oregon we made a ‘brave new world’ list with ‘make friends’ at the very top.  And what better way to make these friends in a new world then looking for love on the internet?!  Thankfully there is Meetup, an online matchmaking site for all the shit you love to do.  Are you plus sized AND into playing sports? There is a meetup group in Virginia for you. Obsessed with your bearded dog? There is a meetup specifically for bearded dog owners to socialize called ‘The Dirty Beards’. As much fun as it would be to forego cultivating meaningful friendships for time alone laughing at peculiar meetup groups, we figured that the Southern Oregon Vegetarian/Vegan group would be a great place to start.

While I’m a little too curious about the members of The Dirty Beards meetup, it would be tough to beat the group of folks that we met during the last potluck of our new Southern Oregon meetup group.  The people were relaxed, loved talking about obscure kitchen gadgets and ingredients, and were as equally self-deprecating about the life of a vegan as we claim to be. What can I say, I dig talking about frequent bowel movements with strangers.

Onto the foods (great segway, I know). The pressure was on to represent who we were as people through our food – so Evan the Athlete prepared a protein power salad with lemon-tahini dressing and Hayley the Nostalgic-Sugar-Junkie celebrated the seasons with two kinds of vegan Samoas (one with shortbread, one without) and vegan/gluten-free Thin Mints.  We made our own touches to these recipes, but much of my help came from one of my favorite cookbooks, Babycakes Covers the Classics.  Now go out there with confidence adults, and make some friends!

Earn yourself a merit badge for being awesome.

VEGAN SAMOAS (with shortbread)

SHORTBREAD

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (melted, slightly cooled)
  • 1 1/4 cup cake flour (make w/ 1 cup all-purpose flour to 2 tbsp cornstarch)
  • 1/4 cup vegan sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 pans with parchment paper, and set aside.

Mix everything, knead into a cohesive lump. On a floured surface, roll dough to a 3/8″ thickness, cut into rounds (I used a biscuit cutter).  Cut out the middle to resemble the Girl Scout kind (I used the back side of a pastry tip, but you can even use a marker top or anything lil.)

Bake 15-20 min, or when the edges begin to brown.

COCONUT CARAMEL TOPPING

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp Earth Balance (melted)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

In a small pan over medium heat, melt the sugar, stirring constantly.  The sugar will caramelize, and once it’s a deep copper color and begins to smoke, slowly add the Earth Balance and milk while stirring rapidly. Cook until there are no clumps of caramel and you can see the bottom of the pan when sliding the spatula across. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and coconut.

To assemble: once coconut topping is cool enough to handle, spread evenly on cookies top. Once completely cool, you can use wet fingers to make hale in the middle and even out for esthetics.

DECORATING

  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Line pans that will fit into fridge/ freezer covered with wax paper. Use a double broiler to melt chocolate chips, then stir in coconut oil.  Allow chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes, then dip bottoms of cookies into chocolate and set onto wax paper. Drizzle remaining chocolate over the top of cookies using a fork or pastry bag with a round tip. Chill for at least 30 minutes to set.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

NUTRITION IN SHORTBREAD SAMOAS: 153 calories – 9 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 48 mg sodium– 17 g carbs – 1 g fiber – 11 g sugar – 1 g protein- 4 WW points

VEGAN SAMOAS (*see notes for gluten-free) 

Ingredients:

DECORATING

  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two pans with parchment paper, set aside.

Pour coconut into skillet and toast on medium-low heat until golden brown. Remove from heat into dish to stop cooking and cool down.

In large bowl, combine coconut oil, brown sugar, milk, flaxseed, and vanilla until smooth. Sift in flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix together to form thick batter. Fold in coconut until combined.

Scoop 1 tbsp dough, 2 inches apart on sheets. Flatten with back of measuring cup and use your (or someone else’s) finger to work hole in center to look like Girl Scout kind. Bake 8 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on sheet, then transfer to cooling rack. After cooling, transfer cookies onto wax paper surface for easy refrigerator storage.

Decorating: Melt chocolate chips in double broiler, then stir in melted coconut oil. Allow chocolate to cool for 5-10 minutes to thicken. Dip bottoms into chocolate and return to wax paper. Now, drizzle remaining chocolate over cooking using a fork or pastry bag with small, round tip. Chill cookies for at least 30 minutes to firm chocolate, then store in cool place in a tight container.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

NUTRITION IN VEGAN SAMOAS: 182 calories – 12 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 6 mg sodium– 19 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 13 g sugar – 2 g protein- 4 WW points

VEGAN/GLUTEN-FREE THIN MINTS 

MAKIN' IT RAIN THIN MINTS!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose baking flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 3 tbsp mint extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, arrowroot, xanthan gum, baking sode, and salt. Add the melted coconut oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until thick dough forms.

Drop dough by tsp onto sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Flatten each mound and smooth edges. Bake 7 minutes, rotate sheets in oven, bake for 7 more minutes. Leave on sheets 15 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

After cooling cookies for 15 minutes, combine chocolate chips and mint in sauce pan or double broiler over medium heat. Stir until just melted, then remove from heat. Dunk the top of each cookie and smooth out with finger. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set before eating the shit out of them.

Makes 30 cookies.

NUTRITION IN VEGAN THIN MINTS: 129 calories – 7 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 1 mg sodium– 16 g carbs – 2 g fiber – 10 g sugar – 1 g protein- 3 WW points

PROTEIN POWER SALAD with LEMON-TAHINI DRESSING 

Thanks to www.ohsheglows.com for the template to this great dish (and the pic since we forgot to take one.)

Ingredients for salad:

  • 1 cup green lentils (uncooked)
  • 1 cup kamut berries (uncooked)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil, for sauteing
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • salt & pepper

Cook lentils and cook grains in separate saucepans or separately in a rice cooker.

Saute together onion, garlic, red pepper, and tomato for approx. 5 minutes. Add kale, then cook until kale is soft.  Stir in dressing (see below), then add lentils and grains – stirring until combined.

Remove from heat, add parsley.

Serves 6.

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 + 2 tbsp cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp water

All all ingredients together in food processor and process until smooth.

Yields 1 cup.

NUTRITION IN PROTEIN SALAD W/ DRESSING: 323 calories – 13 g total fat – 0 cholesterol – 32 mg sodium– 44 g carbs – 13 g fiber – 4 g sugar – 17 g protein- 7 WW points

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