Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spaghetti squash noodle soup with fall and spring veggies

Bailey decides to get political and demand more food
I was a little on the activist side this week when a group of us decided to deliver moving boxes to help our state legislators hit the road and get the message that we don't really want them back without a change of attitude. I was beginning to think Bailey wanted to be part of the action because he perched himself on the box I planned to deliver and joined in the box-decorating activities. Doesn't he look like he's a little fed up with things? Oh wait, that's me he's fed up with for keeping him on a diet!

Relaxation pose: you gotta be kidding
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to take your dog(s) to a yoga class, called doga? It's a type of yoga where dogs and humans pair up. Better yet, can you imagine me taking my two whackadoodles to a doga class? The picture above shows what goes on when I try to do yoga in my living room. I don't really think they have the relaxation concept down. What do you think? Oh, I forgot there would be other dogs at a doga class too. Now, that sounds like a recipe for pure chaos with my two thrown into the mix. I think Kona, my 12-year-old golden retriever, would make a better doga partner.

Pot of spaghetti squash noodle soup
It finally hit me this week that spring veggies are beginning to pop up and I haven't even used up my stash of spaghetti squash from last year's garden. I think I went overboard trying to make them last. Well, I succeeded at that. The problem is they aren't going to be long for this world if I don't use up the remaining ones quickly. This explains why I have been eating spaghetti squash almost every day for the last week.
Bowl of spaghetti squash noodle soup
I've made everything from sesame spaghetti squash noodles to the Spaghetti Squash Noodle Soup pictured above. The great thing about the soup is it has kind of a yin and yang thing going for it because it uses fall and spring veggies.

Spaghetti Squash Noodle Soup
(makes 2-4 servings depending on your appetite)

  1. 1 spaghetti squash
  2. 1/2-1 package of cubed firm or extra firm tofu
  3. 2 diced carrots
  4. 1 cup of shredded red cabbage
  5. 1 julienned or diced zucchini
  6. 6 stalks of asparagus julienned or diced
  7. 1 quart of veggie broth
  8. 1 T. olive oil
  9. 2-4 T. of Bragg's aminos
  10. 1/2 tsp. of ginger or 1 T.  grated fresh ginger
  11. 2-3 T. miso
  12. Optional: other veggies, diced green onions and toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  1. Cook spaghetti squash by slicing lengthwise, removing the seeds, placing face down in a baking dish with an inch of water. Bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees.
  2. Prepare the veggies by dicing or julienne slicing the asparagus, carrots and zucchini; shredding the cabbage.
  3. Heat up the olive oil in a large pot.
  4. Add the carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the zucchini aspargus, cabbage, and continue to saute for about five minutes.
  5. Add the veggie broth, miso, tofu. Cook for together for about 10-15 minutes.
  6. Add the spaghetti squash noodles. 
  7. Add the Bragg's and Asian hot sauce if desired.
  8. Cook together for a few more minutes.
This soup makes a light meal for me. And the best part is I have room for dessert.

Avocado almond soft serve
I really love dessert but my idea of the perfect dessert is one that's high on taste, big in volume and not so high in calories. Sounds like an impossible task. Not necessarily so if you like Avocado Almond Soft Serve. It has a little prep work to it. You'll need to freeze up a diced avocado ahead of time and make a dozen or so almond milk (unsweetened) ice cubes.

Avocado Almond Soft Serve
(makes 2 generous servings)
  1. One frozen, diced avocado
  2. 12 almond milk ice cubes
  3. 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  4. 1/2 cup cacao powder
  5. 1 tsp. vanilla extract (no alcohol)
  6. Stevia to taste
  1. Put everything in a high-speed blender and pulse until thick and delicious.
  2. Note: You can eat half and freeze the rest. Just soften a bit before serving.
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Sunday, March 25, 2012

5 layers of dessert heaven

Bailey is king of the fridge
Turning one year old has had its ups and downs for Bailey, my kitchen cat. The upside is he can now scale tall mountains, like our refrigerator and cupboard tops. The downside is he has packed on too many pounds eating his delicious kitten chow.
Bailey dreams about cat food

He's not at all happy about being on a diet and having to eat cat food formulated for overweight kitties.
What happened to the scrumptious birthday treat I had planned? Bailey turned up his little feline nose at the tuna snacks I prepared for him. Can you believe it from a little guy who is always on the prowl now for food? Oh well, the dogs were more than happy to celebrate his birthday for him. They eagerly gulped down a tuna snack or two in his honor.
Bailey takes on Nika

Now that Bailey is losing some kitty pudge, he is ready to take on goliath, A.K.A. Nika, our malamute. He is a spunky guy undeterred by the 6:1 size difference.

Bailey in his scratch lounge
When Bailey is not playing with Nika or Misha, or cuddling with Kona, he can be found batting around his toys or taking it easy in his scratch lounge. Sounds like a hard life!

5-Layer Dessert
Now, here's a dessert for me for Bailey's birthday or anytime. It's 5 Layers of Dessert Heaven.
I adapted the recipe from a 5-Layer Flat Belly Dessert to make it free of gluten, eggs, dairy, nuts and sugar.
  1. Chocolate brownies (recipe follows)
  2. Vegan whipped cream (recipe follows)
  3. 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  4. 1/2 cup toasted quinoa flakes
  5. 2 T. chia seeds
  6. 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  7. 1/4 cup cacao nibs
  8. 2-4 cups of fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
Step 1: Make the Brownies
  1. 4 T. coconut oil
  2. 4 T. hemp milk
  3. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  4. 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  5. 1/2 cup cacao powder
  6. 1 T. chia seed
  7. dash of salt
  8. 1/2 cup amaranth flour
  9. 1/2 cup coconut flour
  10. 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  11. stevia to taste
  12. Optional 2+ T. cacao nibs
  1. Preheat oven to 325
  2. Blend all ingredients
  3. Spread in sprayed 8X8-inch baking pan.
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
  5. Cool.
Step 2: Vegan Whipped Cream
  1. 1 tsp. agar agar powder
  2. 1 cup almond milk
  3. stevia for sweetening
  4. 1-2 T. additional almond milk
  5. 3 drops coconut extract
  6. 1/2 of a block of extra firm tofu
  1. Prepare the agar base.
  2. Measure into a pot the 1 cup almond milk. Sprinkle in the agar powder.
  3. Let sit for 5 minutes
  4. Slowly bring to a boil for 5-8 minutes.
  5. Allow to set for 2 minutes before putting in the fridge to cool and thicken.
  6. Once thickened, put in a high-speed blender with additonal almond milk, coconut extract , tofu, and stevia, and blend until whipped and smooth.
Step 3: Make the quinoa flakes, coconut, seed sprinkle
  1. In ziploc type baggie, combine the quinoa flakes, chia seed, coconut and sunflower seeds. Seal the bag and shake to combine.
Step 4: Assemble the dessert

  1. Fill the bottom of a glass container of choice with a layer of brownies, split in half lengthwise.
  2. Evenly spread half the vegan whipped cream on top.
  3. Sprinkle some of the quinoa flake, coconut, seed mixture on top.
  4. Top with berries to cover the whole surface.
  5. Now repeat all four layers and end with berries. Sprinkle the top with cacao nibs.
  6. Note: Depending on the size of your bowl, you may have some remaining ingredients to make another dessert at a later time.
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    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Butternut Squash Crust Pizza

    Nika and Bailey pause after playing
    Bailey has turned out to be the perfect cat for my house full of  canines. He has formed unique bonds with each pooch. He and Nika, my six-month-old malamute, are "let's have fun" buddies. They love to play all kinds of chase games and hide-and-seek. Admittedly, it is a bit disconcerting to see Nika's mouth enclosing Bailey's head at the end of a chase session. But he keeps coming back for more and often baits Nika into chasing him.

    Nothing compares to Bailey's relationship with our 12-year-old golden retriever, Kona. Bailey has adopted Kona as his surrogate mother. You can often find the twosome by simply following the loud purring as the Bailey and Kona snuggle together.

    Kona provides an interactive cat pillow for Bailey

    I had to make a video to preserve this great friendship. Check it out here:

    Misha naps on Kona

    Kona is so docile, unlike the rest of the brood, that she is even willing to be 60-pound Misha's pillow.

    Butternut squash crust pizza
    Bailey's first birthday is fast approaching, March 24. What does one get for a fun-loving cat but more fun? Bailey loves food too. I will need to make him a little treat to celebrate his birthday.

    For the non-feline members of the house, I will serve Butternut Squash Crust Pizza with Swiss Chard Pesto for Bailey's birthday. Actually, I would be willing to eat this just about anytime.

    Crust Ingredients:
    1. 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
    2. 1/2 cup coconut flour
    3. 1/2 cup raw grated butternut squash
    4. Optional:  1/2 clove minced garlic
    5. 1/2 tsp. dry cilantro
    6. 1 T. olive oil
    7. Salt to taste
    Swiss Chard Pesto and Topping Ingredients:
    1. 1/2 bunch swiss chard
    2. 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
    3. 2 T. lemon juice
    4. 1 T. olive oil
    5. Use the remainder of the swiss chard leaves for sauteeing in olive oil.

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Grind the sunflower seeds in a food processor until they form a coarse flour. Add the remaining crush ingredients and process until the mixture forms a sticky ball.
    3. Spread the mixture onto a well-greased baking sheet. Divide into three portions and form small crusts rather than one large one.
    4. Place in the preheated oven and bake 25-30 minutes. Leave the crust in longer if needed.
    5. In the meantime, make the pesto in a food processor.
    6. Saute some additonal chard in olive oil for the topping.
    7. When the crust is done, remove from the oven and let it cool a few minutes.
    8. Spread some pesto on the crust. Top with sauteed swiss chard.
    9. Voila! Your pizza is ready to eat.
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    Monday, March 12, 2012

    St. Patty's Pear-Avocado Smoothie and Spicy Collard Wrap

    Bailey enjoys a sunny window perch
    I'm not a big fan of holidays but for some reason, I've always liked St. Patrick's Day, March 17. I'm not even Irish. I think I just like green.

    I'm hoping to enjoy St. Patty's Day much more this year. Last year, late winter/early spring was all about watching my pal, Pumpkin, die of feline AIDs.  Now look at me. I've got more pet pals than I ever imagined.

    Misha mugging for the camera.
    This year I think I'm getting a jump on St. Patty's Day by eating lots of green food. Okay, what am I thinking? I always eat lots of green food. I'm a vegetarian. By that standard, I'd be celebrating St. Pat's all year-round.

    Okay, enough of this foolishness. How about a pale green Pear-Avocado Smoothie for breakfast on St. Pat's Day or a deep green Spicy Butternut Collard Wrap for lunch or dinner?

    St. Pat's Day Smoothie in pale green

    St. Pat's Day Smoothie
    (serves 1)

    • 1 small ripe avocado
    • 1 small ripe pear, cored but not peeled
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened hemp milk or other non-dairy beverage
    • 1 T. unsweetened sunbutter or other nut or seed butter
    • stevia to taste
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    • 6+ ice cubes
    • optional: 1 tsp. toasted pumpkin seeds or sprig of mint for garnish
    • Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy in a high-powered blender.
    • Serve topped with a sprinkle of green pumpkin seeds or sprig of fresh mint.
    Spicy Butternut Collard Wrap

    Spicy Butternut Collard Wrap

    • 1 large collard leaf
    • Dollop of spicy red pepper spread
    • Slice of roasted butternut squash
    • Shredded red cabbage
    • Other roasted veggies such as zucchini
    Ingredients for the Spicy Red Pepper Spread
    • 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds
    • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika powder
    • 3 T. lemon juice
    • 1 tsp. miso paste
    • 2 T. water
    • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chili pepper powder
    • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers from a jar
    • salt to taste
    • Blend the ingredients for the Spicy Red Pepper Spread in a food processor. You will have extra for other wraps. I also used it as a marinade on grilled tofu.
    • Spread 1 T. of spread on the trimmed collard leaf. Add the other ingredients and carefully roll up.
    Recipes contribed to:

    Sunday, March 4, 2012

    Pear/quinoa shake

    Misha and Nika ready to help with kitchen duty
    I love getting help preparing meals but the kind of "help" that Misha and Nika provide is not exactly what I had in mind. As you can see in the picture above, they have me boxed in, which makes it difficult to reach the important areas in the kitchen, like the stove, sink and counter.

    I think sometimes they feel guilty for being in my way. That's when they break into what I call their "kitchen serenade." It always soothes my frazzled nerves. Check it out at:

    After they're done singing, I almost want to take a nap. Oh, never mind, that's Misha who wants to take a nap and hopefully, Nika too.

    Misha in his napping pose
    I feel like the parent of two toddlers who has to wait until the kids go down for a nap to get any real work accomplished. You know, like the actual cooking of a meal.

    Pear quinoa shake
    I love shakes but is it really possible to eat one and still avoid food allergens? I think I have come up with a recipe that fills the bill in the form of a Pear Quinoa Shake for breakfast. It has the texture of soft-serve ice cream.

    1. 1 mediium pear, cored, chopped and frozen ahead of time
    2. 3/4 cup hemp milk or other non-dairy milk
    3. 2 T. quinoa flakes
    4. 6+ ice cubes
    5. 1 T. unsweetened sunbutter or other seed or nut butter of choice
    6. 1 T. rice protein powder
    7. 1 T. chia seed
    8. stevia to taste

    1. Put all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth, thick and creamy.
    2. Toss in more ice if needed to get a thick texture.
    3. Top with a dollop of sunbutter if desired.
    Misha naps rather than eating his breakfast
    I can't leave my pear quinoa shake alone once I start eating unlike Misha who can take or leave his food. The photo above shows his typical pose during breakfast. He's not a morning dog!

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