Cucumber and Cashew Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

Cucumber and Cashew Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

Sometimes less is more, as is the case with this salad. Made with sweet grape tomatoes, crunchy cashews, crisp and refreshing cucumbers, tangy honey goat cheese, fresh ground lemon pepper seasonings and a fig balsamic drizzle. You can use whatever balsamic vinegar you can get your hands on, but a sweeter, lighter balsamic works best for this salad. (Make it vegan by omitting the goat cheese!)

What you will need:
cucumber
grape or cherry tomatoes
honey goat cheese (or any type of goat cheese, really)
cashews
lemon pepper sea salt grinder
balsamic vinegar

Slice the cucumbers and quarter them. Slice the grape tomatoes in half and place both ingredients on a plate or in a bowl. Add crumbled goat cheese and cashews, give the lemon pepper grinder a few twists and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve outdoors on a humid summer’s day with an ice cold martini.

Juicing and Cleansing Part 2

Juicing and Cleansing Part 2

You might be wondering why there is a picture of a delicious chocolaty treat accompanying the title “Juicing and Cleaning Part 2”. The answer is simple. That chocolaty treat is a raw chocolate macaroon, and that’s what I broke my cleanse a day early with. My plan was to make it through a five day cleanse, and for it being my first cleanse ever, I’d say making it through four days is pretty damn good! Now, I know sweets are not the best thing to break a cleanse with, but at least it was raw! AND I followed it up with a big ol’ raw salad of kale, cabbage, and carrots with fresh squeezed lemon, apple cider vinegar, and Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids as the dressing (no oil!).

This juice cleanse was probably one of the best things I’ve done for my body in YEARS. It taught me a lot about myself. When I didn’t have food to focus on, my mind could focus on other things more clearly. I found that, usually, I’m not eating because I’m hungry, I’m eating because I’m actually thirsty. I know that I don’t drink enough water on a daily basis. Now I can see exactly how it effects me. I found out that I am, indeed, an emotional eater. And I definitely eat out of boredom and habit. After the first day, I felt more energy and less weighed down. I went to my first yoga class in months on the second day of my cleanse, and I noticed that after climbing up the five flights of stairs to the yoga studio, I wasn’t out of breath and drained like I normally am; I felt great and was barely winded at all! That was amazing to me. I’ve never been able to make it up those steps without feeling like death afterword.

The third day of my cleanse was when the headaches really started to kick in. You see, I’m a caffeine addict, and I can’t go a day without my coffee. So, I drank about half of a cup of coffee to try to curb my pain, a glass of water, and a bottle of juice, but nothing seemed to work. I was able to work through it, and, luckily, I didn’t have any other issues that day.

The forth day I was feeling absolutely AMAZING from my cleanse! But, I was also feeling emotional (totally unrelated to the cleanse) and started craving food because of it. I think that’s ultimately what led me to break my cleanse a day early. Either that, or I just wanted to taste something savory and crunchy. I don’t know for sure. Either way, I learned a lot about myself and my eating habits. I found that I’m a lot stronger than I think. I also need to drink more water and eat less dairy. I need to get back to putting more thought into my recipes and food. And I need to take better care of myself.

If you’d like more information on the juice cleanse I just finished, go to annaintheraw.com 🙂

Juicing and Cleansing

Juicing and Cleansing

I like to keep this blog about recipes and not make it too personal, but I’m going to step away from that for just a moment. I recently started working for a raw food and juicing specialist, Anna Harouvis of Anna in the Raw (annaintheraw.com). It’s partially why it’s been two months since I’ve updated with new recipes. I’m blogging about this now because today I started day one of a five day juice cleanse, my first cleanse ever! I’m following Anna’s juice cleanse while also supplementing it with Nature’s Secret 5-Day Fast and Cleanse. It’s now the end of my first day of cleansing and I have to say, I feel pretty great. I’ve had some moments of feeling slightly tired and lethargic but I think that might have more to do with not getting enough sleep last night. I’ve had some food cravings, too, but they’ve passed quickly.

It’s good to give your digestive system a break every once in awhile to clean out built up toxins and let your body focus on things that need to be repaired. When your body isn’t constantly focusing on digestion, you allow it time to heal and repair. We eat nonstop- when we’re hungry, bored, sad, and we even mistake thirst for hunger, causing a lot of people to overeat. I haven’t truly felt hungry yet, but I’ve wanted to eat out of habit and boredom. So I’m going to bed tonight satisfied, not because my belly’s full, but because I know I’m doing something amazing for my health.

Thai Ginger Peanut Soup (Vegan!)

Thai Ginger Peanut Soup (Vegan!)

This slightly spicy soup is bursting with flavor from Swanson’s Thai Ginger Broth, a hint of peanuts, almost 10 oz of mushrooms, chunks of tofu, and handfuls upon handfuls of spinach. And, it’s ridiculously easy to make! This soup is hearty and can be served as a main dish that’s ready in under 20 minutes! Makes about 6-8 servings.

What you will need:
oil for sauteing (I highly recommend coconut oil)
4 oz shittake mushrooms
32 oz carton of Swanson’s Thai Ginger Broth (kudos to Swanson for that one, by the way!)
3 well rounded spoonfuls of chunky peanut butter (not creamy!)
16 oz of Trader Joe’s super firm tofu (if you can find it. It goes above and beyond the calls of extra firm tofu. Trust me.)
3 oz enoki mushrooms
2 oz beech mushrooms
large handfuls of spinach (I used about 5)

In a medium or large pot, melt the coconut oil. Remove most of the stem from the shittake mushrooms and cut any of the larger mushrooms in half. Add them to the pot and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cut the tofu into small cubes and remove the woody ends of the enoki and beech mushrooms. Add the spoonfuls of peanut butter to the soup along with the tofu, enoki, and beech mushrooms. Then, start adding the handfuls of spinach, letting each handful wilt a little bit before adding the next, until you have your desired amount of spinach. Serve garnished with chopped peanuts or scallions.

Warm Lentil Salad

Warm Lentil Salad

This warm salad is an easy, one pot, recipe that will be done and ready to eat in less than 25 minutes. It makes for a great lunch or dinner on the go (just throw it in a container and grab a fork!), and you can switch up the seasons to your liking. And, you can always freeze the leftovers! The measuring is up to you, so make as much or as little as you want, measuring isn’t important here!

What you will need:
lentils
kale
carrots
celery
onion
seasonings (I used a few twists of the lemon pepper grinder, a pinch of green curry powder, Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids and garlic powder. Other great suggestions- yellow curry sauce, bbq sauce and hot sauce mixed, a cube of vegetable bouillon, or Italian seasoning.)

In a medium size pot, bring water to a boil and add lentils. Chop the kale into small leaves and chop the carrots, celery, and onion and add to the pot of lentils. Continue to boil for 20- 25 minutes or until the lentils are cooked. If there’s any excess water, drain it. Add seasonings and serve!

Mushroom, Lentil and Kale Stew (Vegan!)

SAM_4809This hearty stew is full of fresh veggies like onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and kale. And it’s vegan, too! Lentils are full of fiber that will help keep you fuller longer and help keep you warm on those chilly winter nights. I like to make this stew with intentions of freezing half of it for when I don’t have time (or don’t want) to cook. This recipe yields a lot of stew, so I’d recommend freezing some of it if you don’t have intentions of eating it throughout the week. This is also a great recipe to make on the weekend when you have a Saturday afternoon free since this crock pot recipe is time consuming.

What you will need:
a large crock pot and medium pot
8 oz crimini mushrooms
1 T vegetable oil
1 c red lentils
1 c green lentils
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1/2 of an onion
5 c vegetable broth (preferably mushroom based)
1/4- 1/2 lb of kale

Turn crock pot on high heat and start to melt the butter. Cut the crimini mushrooms in half and add to the crock pot, stir and continue to cook for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring water to a boil and add the red and green lentils to the pot. Cook for 20 minutes and drain any excess water. You can also chop the onion, celery and carrots while the lentils cook. Set lentils aside. Once the mushrooms have cooked for 45 minutes, add the onions, celery and carrots and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop kale into thin slices, then cut those slices in 3rds. Add 5 cups of vegetable broth to the crock pot and add the kale and cooked lentils. Continue to cook for about another hour and a half or until the kale has wilted and the carrots and celery have softened. Serve with crusty, buttery toast on a chilly winter day.

Liebster Award Nominations

Liebster Award Nominations

I know I’ve been falling behind on updating with new recipes, but I promise it is only temporary! In the meantime, check out this new recipe I’m working on for spicy pineapple habenaro black bean chili and get to know a little bit about the person behind The Veggie Slaughterhouse.

A few days ago, I received a message from a blogger that I follow, Put On Your Cake Pants , saying that she had nominated me for a Liebster award! (P.S. All I can think of when I see that name is, Put On Your Cake Pants and Dance! I don’t know why…) Anyway, I’ve received something very similar to this before but didn’t have the chance to fill it out. So, this time, I’m jumping on the opportunity!

The Rules:
Answer the ten questions given to you by the blogger by whom you were nominated.
Share ten random facts about yourself.
Nominate 3-11 up-and-coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers.
Generate 10 questions to be answered by those whom you nominate.
Contact your nominees to let them know the news.

Ten Questions

1. What is the meaning behind your blog name and where did it come from?
I wanted to come up with a name that was fun and memorable, and I didn’t want it to be too serious. I feel that a lot of vegetarians and vegans take themselves too seriously and I wanted to show that there’s a fun, lighthearted side to cooking without meat. I posted a question on facebook about what I should name my vegetarian cooking blog, and that helped me come up with the name for it.

2. What is your first memory?
I remember walking up to my dad and telling him that I was 3 years old while holding up 2 fingers. I remember him giggling and correcting me with the right number of fingers.

3. Dogs or cats?
OMG, YOU’RE GOING TO MAKE ME CHOOSE??!?

4. Favorite meal?
Hmmm, that’s really a tough one. That depends on so much. Fall/ winter time? My favorite meals revolve around squash (with an egg in it, duh), soups and stews, anything involving a mushroom cream sauce, and so many different casserole dishes. Spring/ summer time I love making kale apple and swiss salads, chilled avocado soups and anything over the grill. My favorite food can also change with my mood. So, ask me tomorrow. I might tell you something different.

5. Favorite thing to do to relax?
Cuddle with my dog or play bass.

6. Pet peeve?
Spilling the water out of tofu containers while trying to open them and water goes flying everywhere. Grrrrr.

7. If you have the house to yourself, what do you do?
In all seriousness, I cook. It’s therapeutic for me to cook by myself sometimes.

8. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be able to fly with the birds.

9. Favorite quote or piece of advice?
This one comes from Anna Harouvis, owner of Anna In the Raw, “Being happy is being healthy no matter what size your pants are.”

10. On a rainy day would you rather watch movies or play cards/board games?
Movies all the way. With a bowl of soup, too.

Ten Random Facts

1. I didn’t learn to cook anything other than pancakes and mac and cheese from a box until a year or two after I stopped eating meat (which wasn’t until my early twenties. And that’s gross that I can say early twenties like I’m an old lady or something).
2. I worked as a coffee barista for 2 years just to feed my caffeine addiction. It’s still one of my favorite jobs ever.
3. I was 21 when I made stuffed peppers for the first time. It’s a weird, random memory for me.
4. I used to be the pickiest eater, EVER. Eggs freaked me out, especially the runny ones. Now I couldn’t imagine eating acorn squash without a delicious runny egg baked in it.
5. I became a vegetarian in middle school just so I didn’t have to eat the types of meat that I didn’t like. I still pigged out on bacon and chicken. And ham. And turkey. And who knows what else.
6. My sister once chased me around the house with a hot dog just because she’s a jerk. Now she barely eats meat herself.
7. I play bass guitar and joined an all girl band a month after I started playing. That band taught me so much and I owe a lot to those girls ❤
8. I think about 80% of my conversations with friends revolve around food and I'm totally ok with that.
9. I hate baking sweets.
10. I am from Cleveland, Ohio and I'm DAMN proud of it!

I wanted to nominate so many good blogs, but one rule is that they must have 200 followers or less. Unfortunately, I've had a really hard time finding blogs that I follow that fall under that category, so for now, I am going to post this and continue to look for more "up-and-comers" that are deserving of the Liebster Award! Thank you!

Vegan, Gluten Free Mushroom Gravy

Vegan, Gluten Free Mushroom Gravy

This hearty and savory mushroom gravy holds its own against it’s meaty counterparts. Arrowroot powder substitutes flour in this recipe and also makes it safe to eat for anyone with a gluten intolerance or gluten allergies. Cornstarch would also be a great alternative if you can’t find arrowroot powder. So vegans and the gluten intolerant, don’t spend another holiday meal suffering through dry mashed potatoes! Smother them with this gravy that both meat eaters and vegans alike will love! Makes 2 cups of gravy.

What you will need:
medium to large pot
10 oz of your favorite mix of mushrooms (I used crimini and shiitake), sliced or chopped. If using shiitake or oyster mushrooms, remove the stems as well.
1/2 of an onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tbs earth balance buttery spread
1 1/2c vegetable stock
1/2c almond milk
3 tbs arrowroot powder
1/4c nutritional yeast
2 tbs Bragg’s liquid amino acids
1 tbs Italian seasoning
a twist or two of the lemon pepper grinder (if you don’t have this ingredient, that’s ok)
fresh sprig of rosemary
liquid smoke

In a pot over medium heat, melt earth balance buttery spread. Add your sliced mushrooms and onions and continue to cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms start to reduce and release some of their liquid. Add your minced garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add your vegetable stock. Turn the heat on high and let the gravy start to boil. While continually stirring, slowly add the arrowroot powder, making sure to not let it stick and clump together. Once the powder is mixed in, turn down the heat and continue to stir. Add the almond milk, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, Bragg’s, lemon pepper, rosemary and a couple of drops of liquid smoke and stir until all ingredients are combined. Serve over mashed potatoes or any other part of your holiday dinner.

Butternut Squash and Cashew Puree with Cranberry Cinnamon Goat Cheese

Butternut Squash and Cashew Puree with Cranberry Cinnamon Goat Cheese

Cinnamon, honey, nutmeg and warm, melty butter make this recipe an instant classic, and it’s very easy to make- as long as you have the right tools. Of course you can add more of the mulling spices (all spice, clove and so on), I just used what I had on hand. I also prepared the butternut squash the night before in a crock pot (while I slept), because I knew I wouldn’t have time to roast it in the oven today. But by all means, roast it in the oven if you’d like. Directions for roasting butternut squash can be found in my recipe for Curried Butternut Squash Soup. I came up with this recipe because I wanted to bring a dish to my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, but I wanted it to be something that I had never made before (and, believe me, it was hard not to add curry to this, but I figured my grandma wouldn’t be a big fan of that). I was inspired after watching a marathon of Chopped last night where someone made a similar dish with sweet potatoes and goat cheese. The judges where just raving about it! I figured if they loved it so much, my family would, too. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!

(P.S. they loved it!)

This can easily be made vegan by using maple syrup instead of honey and earth balance buttery spread in place of real butter. Makes about 5 side dish servings.

What you will need:
a food processor, large skillet and immersion blender (you can get away with not using the immersion blender, it just won’t be as creamy)
2 small butternut squash (or 1 big one)
2/3 c cashews (I used salted)
2 spoonfuls of honey
3 tbs butter
a couple pinches (or more) of cinnamon
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch or 2 of pink Himalayan sea salt
crumbled cinnamon cranberry goat cheese for a tasty garnish

Preheat the crock pot to high heat. Wrap the butternut squash in foil and add to the crock pot. Cook on high heat for 4 hours. Remove and let cool for 15 minutes before handling. Cut the butternut squash in half, remove seeds and discard. Scoop out the butternut squash into the food processor along with the cashews, honey, butter, spices and salt (I kept taste testing until I had the flavor I desired) and blend until the cashews aren’t big chucks anymore. Heat your skillet to medium low heat and cook for 10 minutes, letting the cashews soften. Transfer to a serving bowl and use the immersion blender to completely smooth out any chunks of cashews that might be left. Serve with cranberry cinnamon goat cheese sprinkled on top.

Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce with Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta

Vegan Mac and Cheese Sauce with Gluten Free Quinoa Pasta

This vegan “cheese” sauce is made with cashews and orange cauliflower, giving it a rich, creamy taste, along with nutritional yeast to give it a slight “cheesy” flavor. This recipe definitely hits the nail on the head when it comes to comfort food, while still being a healthier alternative to fatty cheese sauces filled with lots of heavy creams and butter. And there’s so many different ways to use it, it’s not just limited to mac and cheese! Top off chili with it, enjoy it with your favorite veggie dog, load up a baked potato with it, or pour it over broccoli with some hot sauce! The possibilities are endless! Makes about 6 cups of sauce. Any leftover sauce can be kept in the freezer.

What you will need:
a food processor and large pot
1 head of orange cauliflower (about 4 cups.) if you can’t find orange cauliflower, white will work just the same
1/2 c cashews (salted or unsalted)
1c almond milk
3/4 c nutritional yeast
1/2 c water
4 tbsp earth balance
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp yellow mustard
salt, to taste
fresh herbs to garnish. I used rosemary. Thyme, dill, sage or basil would also be great, too.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add cauliflower florets. Boil until very soft and tender, about 15- 20 minutes. Drain water, remove from pot and let the cauliflower cool. In food processor, combine the rest of the ingredients, aside from the garnish, and blend until creamy and smooth. Serve over gluten free quinoa noodles, rice, or any other comfort food that’s in need of a creamy, cheesy sauce.