New Formula: Hummus

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I love to browse social media for pictures of what my friends are cookin’ up in the kitchen. While all of my formulas and recipes are originals, I often get inspiration from the culinary creations of others. When it came time to develop a hummus formula, I had one particular image in mind.

A friend of mine from high school posted a picture of a scrumptious vegetarian spread on Facebook a couple of weeks ago. Every dish was mouth-watering, but what really stood out to me was a big bowl of pink hummus, which I read contained beets. This got me thinking about how many different ways hummus can be made unique and delicious.

Hummus is a chickpea-based dip and spread popular in Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines. It is often served as a dip with pita bread, chips, or raw vegetables, or spread in wraps or sandwiches. Hummus is typically made by pureeing cooked chickpeas, lemon juice, and tahini (sesame seed butter). It is an easy dish to make, eat, and bring with if you need quick appetizer for a party or family dinner.

The formula (under Snacks) I’ve developed works with any cooked beans or lentils. You can keep it traditional and simple, or add extras like fresh herbs or vegetables, as was the case with my friend’s beet hummus. I’ve found that a bean/lentil base is what gives hummus its creamy, dip-able texture; any other ingredients you select will blend right in.

As noted in my post about what I consume in a typical day, I try to eat most of my vegetables raw, but I really believe that hummus made with their addition calls for the cooked variety. They puree more smoothly and have a richer flavor, which is essential for competing with beans/lentils, which can be pretty blandly overpowering. Consider some of these alternatives to traditional hummus:

  • Lentil hummus with curry
  • Black bean hummus with lime and cilantro
  • Pinto bean hummus with roasted red peppers
  • Edamame hummus with miso
  • Chickpea hummus with roasted tomatoes

The list goes on…

Today, I’m taking a stab at the beet hummus that caught my eye a few weeks back. As if simplicity and yumminess were not enough, consider the protein power of beans. A question that I am often asked as an almost-vegan is “Where do you get your protein?” These answer is simple: from beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and of course, fruits and vegetables.

Beans in particular:

  • Are high in soluble protein, which can lower cholesterol (high cholesterol is why I adopted plant-based living to start with…see my bio).
  • Contain no cholesterol – woo!
  • Are packed with protein, approximately 7 grams per ½ cup.
  • Can prevent constipation.
  • Are gluten-free diet friendly.
  • Are a source of complex carbohydrates that keep you fuller longer.
  • Are inexpensive, especially compared with other protein sources.
  • Are a powerhouse of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • Are super versatile (see my bean salad, chili, and curry formulas to glean ideas).

So, get dippin’…for your health! 🙂

FORMULA BASE: HUMMUS

  • 2 cups cooked beans or lentils –>  I’m using chickpeas.
  • 2 cups cooked vegetables and/or raw herbs (or more beans and lentils, if you want to keep it simple) –>  I’m using 1 ½ cups steamed beets and ½ cup fresh parsley.
  • Approximately 1 tbsp oil, if including roasted vegetables –>  I’m steaming, so I don’t need oil in this case.
  • 2-4 cloves raw or roasted garlic –>  I’m using two raw cloves.
  • ¼-½ cup citrus juice –>  I’m using the juice of one large lemon.
  • 1 tbsp tahini (optional) –>  I’m not using it for this particular recipe.
  • Spices, salt, and pepper to taste –>  I’m using ¾ tsp onion powder, ½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt, and two turns of fresh cracked black pepper.
  • Liquid (water, oil, vegetable stock, vinegar, or more citrus juice) as needed until desired consistency is achieved –>  I’m using about ¼ cup homemade vegetable stock.

If using, peel if necessary and coarsely chop your vegetables. Decide on a cooking method that works best for the particular vegetable(s) you’re using and have at it. (Steaming will maintain the most nutrients of any cooking method.) I’m steaming my beets in the Baby Bullet steamer that I purchased when Nolan was first born. I knew it would come in handy for more than just baby food! 🙂

DSC_1828When the veggies are finished, put all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Chill for an hour and serve as a dip or use as a spread (just like my pesto formula).

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Here, I have mine accompanied by some of my favorite bean-based chips (which I can’t wait to try making myself someday).

DSC_1834 Store in the fridge for 3-4 days. Hummus has a tendency to dry out and/or thicken the longer it sits. Enjoy!

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New Formula: Veggie Curry

DSC_1657I’ve always known that I love curry, but I didn’t realize just how much until Travis, Nolan, and I visited my sister and her husband in Japan this past June. In addition to traditional Japanese fare, the streets are sprinkled with tiny, authentic Indian restaurants, serving many varieties of curry with chewy naan. Travis, Petra, Craig, and I decided that we really needed to check out these curry joints; the chefs there must be doing something right if there is just as much curry available in Tokyo as sushi and ramen.

Thus, we embarked on what we lovingly named The 2013 Curry Crawl. We sampled curry from six different Indian establishments over the course of two days, with one day of rest in the middle (curry can be intense, ya’ll). We even found a bakery that sold savory curry-stuffed donuts! Yes, it’s true, and boy were they delicious!  Here you can see me and Petra, members of the Curry Crawl Clean Plate Club, and the donuts.

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Vegetarian curry was easy to find, but vegan curry? Not so much. While coconut milk is a typical base for the creamy curry sauce, many places use heavy cream or milk. Being lactose intolerant, I knew pretty quickly when I had just wolfed down a cream-based curry rather than the preferred coconut milk variety. Uh oh… 🙂

Full and inspired, I knew I had to come back to Arizona and perfect my own totally vegan curry dish. I experimented with different vegetable and bean combinations, plant milks, and spice levels, and think I just may have figured this out. I discovered that there really is no ideal recipe since I like so many different flavors and because different people prefer their curry differently: sweet, spicy, mild, thick, soupy, etc. Thus, vegetable curry (now under Square Meal Formulas) lends itself perfectly to my Fresh Formula model.

When I’m making this dish—which Travis claims is the best vegetable curry he’s ever had, just sayin’—I throw together whatever vegetables and beans I have on hand and have a unique experience every time. I keep the spice blend and sauce thickness consistent, since to me, that’s what makes my curry, my curry.

Before we get started, I have pictured here an actual sweet potato, since that is what I am using in today’s recipe. If you didn’t already know, while some varieties of sweet potatoes may be orange inside, the orange guys you find in the grocery store may actually be yams, with the true sweet potatoes being pale yellow inside. Does it matter? Yes! Sweet potatoes are higher in protein and fiber than yams and a mega source of vitamin A. While both are extremely nutritious, sweet potatoes have an edge. Just something to consider the next time you are in charge of these starches next Thanksgiving.

DSC_1648Finally, don’t forget to thoroughly wash your vegetables before peeling and chopping. Remember, you can collect the clean scraps in a large bowl in the freezer to make into homemade veggie stock later on. 🙂 On to the curry!

FORMULA BASE: VEGGIE CURRY

Serves 6

  • 2 cups grains + 4 cups cooking liquid –> I’m using short grain brown rice, which I’m cooking in my homemade veggie stock.
  • 2 cups cooked beans –> I’m using garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas).
  • 1 cup raw nuts –> I’m using cashews.
  • 5-6 cups chopped vegetables –> I’m using 1 medium sweet potato, 2 small carrots, 1 medium zucchini, ½ cup each corn and peas, and ½ of a small yellow onion.
  • 2 cups plant milk –> I’m using 1 cup each of coconut and almond milk. (Although I’ve never sampled a curry where I could actually taste the coconut flavor, which I don’t like, I always still err on the side of caution and mix plant milks. :))
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp curry powder –> The premixed stuff is too spicy for me, so I combine 1 tbsp garam masala, ½ tbsp each of cumin and turmeric, ¼ tsp of ground nutmeg, and ½ tsp of pink Himalayan sea salt and adjust while cooking as my taste buds see fit. If you like it spicy, use a premixed curry powder (beware of added salt) which will likely already carry some heat and add cayenne pepper to taste.
  • ½ tbsp agave syrup (optional) –> I’m using it. I may consider using more if I weren’t included a sweet potato in the mix.
  • 1 tbsp oil (to prevent cooking vegetables from sticking to the pan) –> I’m using coconut oil.

Rinse your grains and place in a rice cooker or stove top pot with their cooking liquid. Set to medium low heat and cover, stirring occasionally. The grains are done when all of the liquid has been absorbed. Cooking times will vary. Brown rice takes 25-35 minutes, depending on the variety and whether or not it is cooking in a rice cooker or on the stove.

Dry toast the nuts in a large sauté pan over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes, or until lightly golden, tossing frequently.

DSC_1649The nuts will darken in color throughout the entire cooking process. While you’re waiting for the nuts to brown, chop up your longest-cooking veggie(s). For me, these are the sweet potato and the carrots, which I am peeling before chopping.

When the nuts have browned slightly, add your oil to the pan, along with your longest-cooking veggie(s). Sauté for about 5 minutes before adding your milk, garlic, agave syrup, and spices. Turn the heat down to medium to reduce the milk for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, continue to chop all of your veggies. After the 15 minutes, add them to the mix from longest cook time to shortest; my last addition will be the garbanzo beans (rinse and drain if necessary) and frozen peas and corn since they simply need to heat through. Stir your vegetables often to ensure they aren’t sticking to the bottom of your sauté pan, but are still being exposed to the heat.

Cook times will vary depending on the vegetables selected. This version of my curry formula takes just under an hour. When your veggies are all cooked through or to your liking (I prefer them al dente), serve the curry over rice. Enjoy!

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